Administration awards 120 service provider programs through Victims of Crime Act
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 22, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced nearly $23 million in grant funding from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Formula Victim Assistance Grant Program supporting victims of crime in the commonwealth.
“Protecting Kentuckians and promoting justice has been a priority of mine since my first day in office," said Gov. Beshear. “This VOCA funding allows us to build upon the great work we have done in the past few years to help even more Kentuckians and provide a safer commonwealth for future generations."
The program gives priority to projects that offer services to victims of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence. Additionally, the VOCA program funds projects that serve other individuals such as victims of burglary or theft, survivors of victims of homicide, victims of drug and alcohol-related crime, elderly victims and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and/or assault.
This year, $22,835,365 in federal funds will support 120 programs and projects. Programming funded includes children's advocacy centers, court-appointed special advocates, domestic violence programs and sexual assault programs. As of today, the administration has awarded more than $96 million in grant funding through the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet to victim service agencies across the commonwealth.
Victims of crime in the commonwealth are eligible for VOCA-supported assistance services at no cost. These services respond to the emotional, psychological or physical needs of crime victims. VOCA programming provides critical supports and services for immediate and long-term healing and stability, as well as navigating the criminal justice process and restoring a measure of security and safety for survivors.
“This critical funding helps people navigate some of the worst moments of their lives by accessing needed services for healing, security and justice," Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey said. “With this funding, Kentucky takes another step forward on its commitment to fight for justice for all Kentuckians who have been a victim of a crime."
Since October 2015, 481,220 victims in the commonwealth have been served and 4,029,049 services have been provided through VOCA grant funds.
VOCA funds are replenished each year through fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments collected from federal offenders by U.S. Attorneys' offices, federal U.S. courts and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. No tax money supports the Crime Victim's Fund. VOCA funds are provided to states and U.S. territories as a formula grant.
For a full list of 2022-2023 VOCA sub-award recipients, please visit the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet's website. Leaders from several organizations said what receiving the funds means to their community and for the services they provide.
"Thanks to funding from VOCA, the Baptist Health Hardin SANE/Forensic team delivered emergent and follow up care for all victims of violence seeking services. Forensic services have helped victims through emotional and physical healing from trauma as well as support prosecution efforts. We have seen a continuous rise in patient volume that has expanded beyond our 10-county service area. Access to specialized, trauma informed, compassionate medical/forensic care is vital in creating a space where victims feel safe and empowered," said Baptist Health Hardin SANE/Forensic Program Manager Sarah Manning.
Sherrie Bell, Executive Director of Cumberland Valley Domestic Violence Services, Inc., in London, shares, “Through VOCA funding, Cumberland Valley Domestic Violence Services has been able to provide essential services in our rural eight county district. These services include emergency shelter, case management, safety planning, crisis intervention, support groups and housing services to victims in remote rural areas who would otherwise not have access to these services. We provide support and advocacy to assist victims in finding their voice and strength as evidenced by this direct quote from a former client. “Thank you so much for advocating and being with me thru all the court hearings. I know I would not be standing strong on my own if not for you and the shelter."
“On behalf of victims and survivors of crime, the Office of the Fayette County Sheriff is tremendously appreciative to VOCA funding. This funding allows a deputy sheriff to safety plan with survivors in their homes along with the installation of enhanced security equipment as well as providing the opportunity for survivors to receive counseling with a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in trauma. Additionally, the funding provides for an intake specialist to be in the Amanda's Center when victims present at the courthouse seeking assistance. VOCA funding has been a true lifeline in such a great time of need as this," Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt said.
Melissa Whitley, executive director of Hope Harbor stated “On average, over 80% of Hope Harbor's core sexual assault victim services including a 24-hour crisis line and text line, medical advocacy, legal advocacy and trauma informed counseling for the Barren River area Development District are supported by the Victim of Crime Act. Through these services, our goal is to reduce the psychological, physical and financial impact of this crime. VOCA funds have allowed our agency to expand outreach efforts, maintain three satellite offices and support language interpretation to make our services more accessible in our communities served."
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has experienced three years of significant decreases in the federal VOCA awards due to nationwide reductions in funding at the federal level. To supplement these reductions, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet's 2023-2024 biennial budget includes an additional $10 million each fiscal year from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This will provide additional funding for programs that focus on crime reduction, or directly assist crime victims in the commonwealth. Applications are open until September 30. For more information, click here.
Since taking office, Gov. Andy Beshear has consistently championed reducing and preventing domestic and dating violence and abuse while helping victims and survivors receive the services they need. During the 2022 Regular General Assembly Session, the Governor signed Senate Bill 38 into law, which defines Class A and B felony incest as a violent offense and requires offenders to serve longer sentences for committing this heinous crime. Additionally, in April he signed Senate Bill 271 into law, improving the ways in which domestic violence data in Kentucky is collected, analyzed and utilized. SB 271 will ultimately enhance responses and prevention efforts from agencies, including law enforcement, courts and service providers, and better meet the needs of victims and survivors.
At the beginning of the year, Gov. Beshear and Secretary Harvey announced that an additional $849,491 in federal grant funding had been awarded to the Kentucky State Police (KSP) to hire a new investigator with the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Investigate Team to focus on investigating and identifying sexual offenders in Jefferson County. The KSP Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Investigative Team was originally formed in July 2021 after the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $1.5 million to the commonwealth to leverage existing investigative resources within the KSP Crime Lab by transitioning three trained investigators and a criminal intelligence analyst from the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General to KSP.
In February and December of 2021, Gov. Beshear announced awards totaling over $4 million to fight sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution (STOP) Formula Grant Program.
During the 2021 legislative session, Gov. Beshear signed HB 310, sponsored by Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Jefferson County. HB 310 allows a commonwealth attorney to file a petition for an involuntary commitment for violent offenders who are incompetent to stand trial and would not benefit from additional treatment, but who are deemed a danger to themselves or others. By signing this bill, the Governor closed a gap in state law that allowed some defendants to avoid both prison time and mental health treatment.
Report Domestic Violence
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, no matter when the violence took place, please contact the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs
There are 13 sexual assault programs providing services to all victims of sexual violence in Kentucky. Services are free of charge. Anyone who has been affected by sexual violence is welcome, including family members and friends close to victims.
Call the 24-hour free hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233).