Huge funding cuts have affected victim services agencies across the country that support crime survivors and victims, and Victim Support Services (VSS) is no exception. The funding cut is due to a dwindling balance in the national Crime Victims Fund (CVF), which was established in 1984 as part of the Victims of Crime Act, commonly known as VOCA.
Between 2017 and today, the amount of money in these funds has gone down 92 percent, which has resulted in a 70 percent reduction in victim assistance programs and grants. This means that, for a lot of victims, the help they need isn’t there any longer.
Washington State has experienced three years of significant decreases in the federal VOCA award. This fiscal year, we have seen an even bigger decrease. While VSS has dealt with routine challenges to its funding in its 46-plus-year history, no cut has been as large as this one.
Unfortunately, with such drastic budget cuts, VSS is not able to sustain the same services in the 5-county area, as we have done for decades. Additionally, our statewide hotline (WA State Crime Victim Service Center Hotline) received decreased funding this year, and will be deactivated by July 1, 2022. Further, we had to discontinue providing our free trauma-informed therapy services in Snohomish and Skagit counties. VSS will be reducing its services dramatically – to include ONLY virtual services (much different from what we have traditionally offered) mostly focused in Snohomish County with some limited virtual services in Whatcom and Skagit counties. We are losing 3 FTE staff and are withdrawing services from King and Island counties, effective November 1. We have already closed two of our physical locations in King County and will be closing our Island and Skagit County offices in January, 2022.
The VOCA Fix Bill, a piece of legislation which is aimed at reducing the risk that victim service organizations will face similar issues again in the future, was passed and signed by the President in July. However, there is nothing they can do to reverse cuts in the next two years, leaving us with no other choice but to make these unfortunate decisions.
If you have any questions about funding, please contact VSS Executive Director, Dr. Michaela Weber at Michaela@victimsupportservices.org.
If you have any questions specific to our programs, please contact Programs Administrator, Leslie McPherson at Leslie@victimsupportservices.org.
If you would like to donate to Victim Support Services, please click here.