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Sanders Approves $17M for Crime Victim Advocacy Groups After Loss of Funding

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has approved a one-time funding of $17 million for crime victim-serving organizations in the state, to offset the loss of Federal Victims of Crime Act funding.

The Arkansas Department of Finance describes the Victims of Crime Act or VOCA as Federal grant funds awarded to the state to support crime victim assistance projects statewide that expand and enhance direct services to victims of crime and provide training and technical assistance to service providers.

According to a news release from the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the money will come from American Rescue Plan Act dollars that have been given to the state.

In addition to ACADV, Child Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Ozark Rape Crisis Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, and numerous other crime victim-serving organizations will benefit from this one-time funding.

“We are incredibly thankful that Governor Sanders has approved our funding request that will support the work of 118 victim advocacy groups across the state of Arkansas,” said Beth Sanders, executive director of the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV). “This shows that the Governor has prioritized advocating for victims and reducing crime in Arkansas and has delivered on that by signing the Protect Act into law.”

The release stated that the previous five years have seen the amount of VOCA funds being distributed fall significantly annually, from a high of $30.6M in 2018 to $13.1M in 2022. Requests for funding by crime-serving organizations have increased each year.

The ACADV stated that cash flow and sustainability issues have come up due to the lack of income from federal criminal fines and fees.

A significant portion of shelter programs has significant operational budgets funded through VOCA, according to the release.

With no added funding, money in VOCA grants in this round would have been cut by nearly 60-70%, making it difficult for organizations to provide services across Arkansas and bridge funding from the state essential, detrimentally impacting domestic violence shelters, the ACADV stated.

Source : KATV