The continuing COVID pandemic is threatening services for rape survivors, victims of child sexual abuse, and victims of other crimes in Maryland.
The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) has reached out to Governor Hogan and Secretary Brinkley asking that they use America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help support the counseling, advocacy, and legal services for these vulnerable victims. While MCASA focused on the needs of the state’s rape crisis centers, it requested ARPA funding for programs serving all types of crime victims.
The America Rescue Plan Act was passed by the US Congress in order to help respond to COVID. Its purposes include addressing the negative economic impact of the pandemic. State governments have wide discretion on how to use these funds and Maryland has millions of dollars left to allocate to this purpose. At a hearing on ARPA funding before the Maryland General Assembly yesterday, Senator Cory McCray from Baltimore City asked about the status of victim services funds but received no commitment from Secretary Brinkley.
MCASA described the economic impact on victim services, saying:
It is important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative economic impact on sexual assault survivors and the programs that provide victim services. In particular:
The economic challenges stemming from COVID come at an especially difficult time for victim services because federal support through Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) grants is expected to dip for about two years. The Maryland General Assembly acted to prevent victim services cuts this year, but without further action rape survivors, victims of child sexual abuse, sex trafficking survivors, and other victims of crime may be left without the counseling, advocacy, and support they need.
Help support victim services by contacting Maryland officials today.
COVID-19 has had a negative economic impact on sexual assault survivors and victim services. @GovLarryHogan please use ARPA funding to #supportsurvivors!