Sequestration cuts to domestic violence services could damage victim aid

Written by Megan Lello | Apr 4, 2013 4:00 AM

(Undated) -- Some domestic violence awareness advocates are warning upcoming federal spending cuts to programs could be potentially "damaging." 

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Funding decreases through sequestration are set to take effect in July.

Jennifer Storm, executive director of the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program, says the funds for the federal Victims of Crime Act had already been slashed 17 percent before the sequestration deal was finalized. "In the event of homicide, this is how we pay for funerals for families who don't otherwise have insurance. It's how we pay for that critical counseling to get them through the trauma of being victimized. I don't even know what victim services would look like without this funding."

Storm says her office has also had to cut back on staff and resources in recent years, and may have to reorganize again to keep pace with federal reductions.

Jennifer Snyder, executive director of Domestic Violence Intervention of Lebanon County, says her agency used to rely heavily on volunteers. "A lot of people have to work, so those people you could count on many years ago are now back working to support their lifestyle."

Snyder says she's hoping to retain 24/7 phone services to aid victims, but doesn't know if they'll survive the cuts this summer.

A White House study released in February shows Pennsylvania could lose up to $271,000 for programs aimed at helping domestic violence victims.

Governor Corbett has called for a $1.3 million increase for such services in his budget proposal.


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