Crime victim service providers across Ohio will be receiving approximately $79.5 million from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office to better facilitate their efforts in helping victims of crime.
The funds will be distributed among 365 different providers across Ohio that deal with issues ranging from child abuse to human trafficking.
Some of the funds from the Ohio Attorney Generals Expanding Services and Empowering Victim’s Initiative will be parsed out to law enforcement officials and therapy services. The Expanding Services and Empowering Victims Initiative has already provided over $50 million in funding to victim service providers in the past, with the bulk of the funding coming from the Department of Justice’s Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).
While VOCA is primarily funded through fines levied on federal crime offenders, additional funding will also be received from the state level via the State Victims Assistance Act. Some organizations, such as the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, will be receiving nearly $3 million in VOCA funds, while other smaller organizations will receive the funds in smaller increments of ten thousands or hundred thousands.
The grant will mostly be broken down into three major categories: $25 million to victims of sexual assault, $14 million to abused children and $25 million to victims of domestic violence.
These funds assist crime victim service providers in their daily work, but they also enable them to expand their area of operations, hire new staffers and cover expenses such as legal fees they may incur. Crime victim service providers deal with a large array of problems, from providing services like prosecutor programs to programs that help the disabled.
Like the problems they tackle, the organizations receiving these funds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Columbus College of Art and Design will be able to hire a therapist to better aid its victims, while Wright State University will see major funding directed toward the creation of an app for victims of sexual assault.
The new funds will be spread throughout the entire state of Ohio, but they are also sure to cause a local impact. Athens County will be receiving money for a number of its service providers, including the Juvenile Court ($200,000), County Sheriff ($55,000), Prosecutor’s Office ($130,000), and the Child Advocacy Center ($180,000).
Kelly Cooke, the executive director at My Sister’s Place, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse in Athens, explained the role of the organization and how such funds can be put to a good use by recipients.
“We service victims of domestic violence and their children,” Cooke said. “We have a 10-bed facility here in Athens, and provide outreach counselling and court advocacy. We see relationship abuse as a big public health issue in our community, and we try to provide whatever services we can to address barriers that victims have for leading a violence free life.”
My Sister’s Place has received funding in the past, but Cooke said the increased funding from the initiative will help the organization branch out in ways it hasn’t been able to before.
“We’ve received focus funding for years, and it goes to some basic staffing cost,” Cooke said. “With the expansion of that fund, we have looked into expanding our services and also addressing some repairs that were needed in the shelter.”
While obtaining necessary funding can often be an issue for smaller organizations, Cooke assured that My Sister’s Place has had staunch support from the Athens community in its work.
“Our community is very supportive of our agency, which goes a long way,” Cooke said. “There’s a local mental health levy in Athens that we’re a part of, and that helps our financial stability for sure.”
The announcement by the Attorney General’s office comes in the wake of recent trends aimed at curbing crime and aiding victims.
Victims of abuse can continue to seek help by dialing 1-800-799-SAFE for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or by locally contacting My Sister’s Place.