As supplemental Family Violence Prevention and Services Act grants from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are becoming available to domestic violence programs, it is important to recognize the domestic and sexual violence fields’ successes - both in battling COVID-19 on the frontlines and also in urging Congress to fund critical victim service programs. The House’s Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act contained important provisions to support victim service providers, most notably recognizing domestic and sexual violence advocates as providing essential services and ensuring the longterm viability of the Crime Victims Fund. Both bills also included important provisions that, while not specifically directed toward survivors, nevertheless provide critical supports, including housing, financial, and employment supports. The HEROES Act also includes important provisions to automatically extend immigrants’ statuses and work authorizations, ensure non-citizens who file taxes receive stimulus checks, and expand access for immigrants to free COVID-19 testing and treatment under Medicaid.
While we celebrate our successes, however, we must acknowledge the many shortcomings of both the CARES Act and the House’s HEROES Act. The CARES Act fell short of fully addressing the needs of survivors of sexual assault and the needs of survivors in communities of color and immigrant communities. The HEROES Act similarly lacks necessary funding for culturally-specific services, and the funding included for survivors of sexual assault is wholly insufficient. It did not include funding for Native survivors, nor did it include important language to ensure supplemental Violence Against Women Act funding would go directly and expeditiously to victim service providers. It also excluded language allowing states to provide unemployment insurance to survivors who have to leave their jobs due to sexual or domestic violence. We know survivors need more.
In late April, hundreds of organizations signed a letter to Congress that urged them to address the critical needs of survivors and programs and that articulated measures Congress can take in the phase four supplemental COVID-19 appropriations package to meet these needs. As we turn our attention to the Senate, we are reopening the letter for new signatories. This letter is for ORGANIZATIONS only. Click HERE to sign onto the letter. Organizations that have previously signed onto the letter do not need to sign on again.
If you have any questions, please contact Rachel Graber (rgraber@ncadv), Dorian Karp (dkarp@jwi), and Emily Dahl (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We thank you for your continued leadership during COVID-19.