Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is leading a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership and appropriators with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), requesting that additional funding and critical provisions to support the victims of family violence, domestic violence and dating violence be included in the anticipated fourth coronavirus (COVID-19) legislative package. As the Nation engages in social distancing to combat the pandemic, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has reported contacts from victims, saying their abusers are taking advantage of the situation to further isolate them from their friends and family, with some abusers withholding financial resources or medical aid.
“As of the writing of this letter, more than 300 million Americans in 42 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, as well as in several cities, local municipalities and Tribal communities are being advised to stay at home if at all possible. About 54 million K-12 students are no longer going to school in person, and millions of adults are out of work. As the pandemic continues, we expect these numbers to rise, and as a consequence, so will incidents of domestic violence,” the Senators wrote. “…Simply put, even though staying home is currently our best way to slow the spread of this deadly virus, home is not a safe place for people who experience domestic violence. As a result, communities around the country are reporting increased demands on victim service providers, which are facing new difficulties and complexities in assisting survivors.“
The Senators request that a fourth supplemental package addressing the COVID-19 pandemic include:
- Funding for shelters and supports, resource centers and technical assistance to support victims of domestic violence, including an additional $100 million for programs funded by the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA);
- Funding to coordinate language-accessible public outreach to hard-to-reach populations, including $100 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
- Set-aside assistance for Tribes and Tribal organizations;
- Robust increases in emergency supplemental funding under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to prevent child abuse and neglect; and
- Provisions to waive the matching requirements under FVPSA and under Title II of CAPTA so workers on the ground can swiftly respond to the needs of survivors during this public health crisis.
“News reports from across the nation and across the globe have documented a significant increase in domestic violence incidences. Our member programs are telling us that they do not have the resources to serve all of the survivors seeking help,” said Ruth M. Glenn, President and CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “We appreciate Senators Casey, Murkowski, and Klobuchar’s leadership on making sure Congress recognizes the unique dangers victims and survivors face when they have nowhere to escape their abuser. The measures the Senators lay out in their letters will mean access to safety for the millions of Americans who experience intimate partner violence annually.”
“Rape crisis centers provide the nation’s frontline response to sexual assault. They are passionate about supporting survivors during this time of intense crisis. Over 600 local programs responded to our recent survey indicating they need emergency funding to address critical needs, transition to virtual services, and reach out to the most vulnerable. We are so grateful to Senators Klobuchar, Murkowski, and Casey for leading the charge to ensure sexual assault is addressed in any future legislation to address the coronavirus pandemic,” said Terri Poore, Policy Director for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
FVPSA serves as the primary federal funding source for supportive services for victims of domestic violence and their children, and funds the Domestic Violence Hotline. Last year, Senators Casey and Murkowski introduced the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2019, which updates and enhances FVPSA so that it better addresses the needs of our communities, particularly those with underserved populations. Senator Casey also recently sent a letter to Senate leadership and appropriators with Senators Murkowski and Klobuchar, requesting that future legislation to address the coronavirus pandemic include robust funding through the Department of Justice to support victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Read the letter here.