Letter to the Editor

in Voices by

Victims of Crime Act funding runs out for SC

Last week, the Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA) was notified through a letter from Ed Harmon, Assistant Director, Justice Program Administrator of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, that even though the current VOCA grant cycle ends in two weeks, the United States Department of Justice which administers the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund, has not yet allowed any state to apply for continued funding.

VOCA funds are awarded to programs like the Open Arms Group Home to fund critical services to SC’s vulnerable children and adults who have been victims of violence.  These funds are financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars.

“It is a shame when politics impacts services to vulnerable children that CAPA and other nonprofits serve,“ stated Susan Cato, CAPA executive director, who further stated that she encourages citizens of South Carolina to contact Sen. Lindsey Graham’s office at 202-224-5972 and Sen. Tim Scott’s office at 202-224-6121.  Also, call Gov. Haley at 803-734-2100 and Rep. Mark Sanford at 202-225-3176.

Tonight, in Beaufort County, there are 10 children living in CAPA’s group home that are victims of violent crimes.  They have nowhere else to go.  As a provider of critical housing to children of SC, we need to know:

• Why are the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) formula grants to states, especially SC, being held up in Washington?

• When can we expect the US Dept. of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs allow SC to apply for VOCA funds?

• Will the VOCA awards be retroactive to allow programs, like ours, to be able to provide victim services without interruption?