By Sarah Busch, MSW
In February 2019, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expired. VAWA supports law enforcement responses to domestic violence and funds essential services to victims, including legal advocacy and shelter.
While the funding and legislation included in VAWA didn’t suddenly come to a stop in February, programs across the country faced the prospect of huge funding shortages in the near future. The House of Representatives passed their version of a VAWA reauthorization in April, but the bill still needs to be heard and passed in the Senate.
The lack of action from Congress also meant that key improvements to victim services and protections were neglected. These much needed improvements include:
- Increased funding for prevention;
- Accessible housing for survivors;
- Support for Native American tribes’ prevention and intervention efforts; and
- Economic support for survivors.
(Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Right here at Missions Inc., VAWA funding through the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs supported our work over the past two years to implement the Blueprint for Safety Project in Plymouth, Champlin, and New Hope. The Blueprint for Safety Project creates a coordinated community response to domestic violence that protects victims and holds abusers accountable. This work will continue – but the delay or elimination of federal funding for domestic violence programs will erode much of the progress made since 1994 to prevent violence against women and help victims pursue justice.
In a time when many of us feel helpless to address the suffering and injustice we see happening in our country, we must remember that our legislative officials need to hear us loud and clear – not to mention often. Among the many worthy causes that demand your attention, we invite you to contact your Senators TODAY. Urge them to reauthorize VAWA and help make our communities safer for everyone.
More information: Talking Points from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Sarah Busch is the Development Associate for Missions Inc. Programs