MCASA urges ARPA funding for Victim Services

Sep 23rd, 2021

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:

  • Demand for victim services has increased as a result of the public health crisis and the resulting economic crisis;
  • Emergency expenditures on the technology, personal protective equipment, and supplies have depleted Victim of Crime Act funds that would otherwise be available to support staff at direct services programs;
  • Changes in the labor market have resulted in non-profit staff leaving victim services programs. Increased funding is needed to recruit and retain staff.

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.

Governor Hogan

(410) 974-3901
Email Governor Hogan
@GovLarryHogan

Secretary Brinkley

(410) 260-7041
Email Secretary Brinkley

Sample Tweet
COVID-19 has had a negative economic impact on sexual assault survivors and victim services. @GovLarryHogan please use ARPA funding to #supportsurvivors!

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