Jane Doe Inc. (JDI) applauds the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives for reflecting in their final budget their commitment to survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The budget budget includes a 25% increase ($7.5M) in funding for local community-based programs for advocacy and outreach to victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence, maintains $1 million dollar for prevention initiatives through the Healthy Relationships Grant, and includes funding for the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program and other critical services. The budget bill now goes to the Governor’s Office for review and signature.
In partnership with its membership of 59 sexual and domestic violelnce programs throughout Massachusetts, JDI has advocated for this increase to address long-identified gaps in services and the added challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today the Massachusetts Legislature made a bold statement regarding our shared responsibility to address the needs of sexual and domestic violence programs, especially in light of the significant impact of COVID-19,” said Debra J. Robbin, Executive Director of JDI. “Programs across the Commonwealth have reported an increase in request for services as a result of the crisis and predict that requests will continue to soar in the coming months.”
Hema Sarang-Sieminski, JDI’s Policy Director, and Adrienne Ramcharan, JDI’s Policy Coordinator, have spent the past twelve months working with community-based programs to share the stories of people who have or are experiencing sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence.
Sarang-Sieminski noted, “Advocates in local programs bear witness every day to the harm and trauma of violence and have noted an increase in the severity of violence and the compounding issues of housing, employment and income instability due to the impact of COVID19 on the economy. These funds will assist programs in providing a vast array of services at a time when people need it most.”
In the coming days, JDI and its members will continue its advocacy while the budget bill awaits the Governor’s signature.
OVERVIEW OF FUNDING FOR SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAMS IN FINAL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE FY2021 BUDGET
Line item 4513-1130, which funds community-based sexual and domestic violence programs, has been funded at $50,341,295, representing an increase of $7.48M, a 25% over Fiscal Year 2020).
- $5.34M increase in general funding for local community-based sexual and domestic violence programs.
- An additional $2.5M for community-based or residential sexual and domestic violence programs and rape crisis centers through the newly established COVID-19 Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Survivors’ Trust Fund.
- $2.5M (remaining 50% of the Trust Fund) will go to local public safety organizations who have DV/SA liaisons as employees or volunteers or partner with DV/SA liaisons.
- Healthy Relationships Grant has basically been level funded at $1M. This is the second year the Healthy Relationships Grant has received this level of funding.
- Funding for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) and Pediatric SANE Programs among other critical services.
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