On Thursday March 24, 2022, the Maryland victim service provider community, who heavily rely on federal funding, learned that Governor Hogan committed $35 million of state dollars in the upcoming fiscal year through a supplemental budget to restore level funding for victim services programs. This announcement follows the approval of the Governor’s budget in Maryland’s Senate and House of Delegates in which legislators fenced off $20 million to backfill a temporary but significant reduction in faced in federal funding dollars.
“We are grateful for the laudable actions of the Maryland General Assembly that prioritized funding for lifesaving victim services,” said Lisae C. Jordan, Executive Director & Counsel of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA). “The actions of the General Assembly combined with the Governor’s commitment of $35 million will ameliorate the funding crisis for the upcoming fiscal year and enable victim service providers to focus their attention on the victims they serve rather than contemplate how they will keep their doors open.”
“Throughout the pandemic and especially in the past year, we have heard repeatedly from local service providers that they cannot meet the current demands for service resulting in victims being turned away or being put on a waitlist,” said Jennifer Pollitt Hill, Executive Director of the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV). “MNADV documented 58 lives lost to intimate partner violence during 2021, the highest number of domestic violence homicides since 2007. There are at least 47 children that lost at least one if not both parents due to these deaths. This commitment of state dollars is coming at a time when victims need our help and support more than ever and we are appreciative of the General Assembly and Governor’s financial commitment to victim services.”
The programs represented by MNADV focus on providing services to victims and survivors of intimate partner violence. The programs represented by MCASA provide direct services to survivors of sexual violence, child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and sexual exploitation. “It is important to know that these critical programs are one part of a larger safety net of victim services across the State and will all benefit from this funding. The lines between categories of victims of crime overlap and blur. Victim services providers all work together to make the state safer and respond to crime victims needing help,” said Jordan.
“A sustained financial investment in comprehensive victim services is crucial not only for Maryland to meet the needs of victims of crime after a crime has occurred but also to prevent crime from happening,” added Pollitt Hill. “We must plan now for future victim services funding to prevent catastrophic long-term consequences, not only for victim-centered programs but for the state of Maryland as a whole.”