Rape-Crisis Agencies, Already Burdened by Cuts, Brace for More
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Correction: MacMath directs COMPASS (Sexual Assault Education, Prevention & Support), an affiliate of Goodwill Industries. An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified a different organization called COMPASS. (2:21 p.m. CT, 4/29/2021)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Six months after rape-crisis funding suffered massive cuts, agencies across Ohio are struggling to ensure the needs of survivors are met.
The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), is the largest source of funding for victim service providers and is funded entirely from criminal fines.
VOCA dollars have been shrinking because of a decline in federal prosecutions, and Ohio's is down 40% for the fiscal year.
Ryn Farmer, director of Lima-based Day One of Crime Victim Services of Allen and Putnam Counties, said with less funding, they've had to reduce staff and response services are spread thinly, especially in rural areas.
She worries rape survivors won't be able to find help when they need it.
"When you experience violent harm on your body, and you don't have the support or resources that are needed to help, it disrupts the body's ability to heal," Farmer explained.
Molly MacMath, executive director of COMPASS (Sexual Assault Education, Prevention & Support), an affiliate of Goodwill Industries in Northeastern Ohio, said they've also struggled with the funding cuts. She hopes a U.S. House bill which allocates fines from non-prosecution agreements to VOCA will pass the Senate.
"But it's not an immediate fix," MacMath cautioned. "It's going to take time. Even if Congress were to pass the VOCA fix legislation, it would be awhile until that money filtered down."
Advocates also are calling on Ohio lawmakers to increase the line-item funding in the state budget for rape-crisis programs. Meanwhile, another round of VOCA cuts of up to 34% is coming in October.
Farmer pointed out the number of survivors seeking assistance rose 20% since the pandemic began, which means they are doing more with fewer resources. She added sustainable, meaningful funding is especially crucial for underserved sexual-violence survivors.
"So survivors from communities of color and Indigenous populations, survivors from immigrant communities, survivors with disabilities, survivors from the elder population, and survivors who identify as LGBTQ," Farmer outlined.
MacMath urged Ohioans to support increased funding for victims of sexual assault.
"You never know when yourself or someone you love is going to be affected by crime," MacMath stressed. "And agencies serving crime victims are hurting, and we're scared of what the future's going to hold."
Ohio's VOCA funding for fiscal year 2021 was about $38 million, a five-year low.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Advocates for people with disabilities in New York are pushing for the federal budget resolution to include $400 billion in Medicaid …
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Freshwater mussels are key to keeping the Chesapeake Bay watershed clean, and with more than half of all species now facing …
BUFFALO, Wyo. -- The doors of five historic community halls across Johnson and Sheridan counties were opened this past weekend for 15 people curious …
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Massive wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada have triggered poor air quality in North Carolina over the past few weeks, and …
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Farmworkers are in Olympia today, calling for stronger protections from extreme heat. The farmworkers union Familias Unidas por la …
BOISE, Idaho -- Rallies are taking place across the Northwest to support salmon, which face dire conditions in the Columbia River Basin. Saturday…
IXONIA, Wis. -- The public comment period has ended, but opponents of proposed natural gas storage facilities in southeastern Wisconsin still hope to …
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvanians are growing worried about the environmental consequences of natural-gas drilling in the state, according to a new …