With the Violence Against Women Act set to expire Sept. 30, U.S. Rep. John Larson came to Hartford Monday to hear about all the things it has been funding since 1994 in Connecticut.
Counseling, legal guidance for divorce procedures, restraining orders, assistance with custody procedures, alternative housing, and help ensuring safety are just a few ways the money has been spent over the years.
A leader in domestic violence prevention Connecticut may be the only state in the country with a domestic violence task force and a fatality review board. And while those things don’t cost much money, providing services to more than 54,000 victims a year is costly.
But with a super committee in Washington tasked with cutting $1.5 trillion from the federal budget and partisan bickering over every penny spent, everything is on the table.
Larson said the good news is there have been bipartisan efforts to try and reauthorize the legislation.
“In those efforts, however, while Democrats are seeking full funding of the legislation, our colleagues on the other side are talking about 75 percent funding,” Larson said. “We hope this matter can be worked out because we think the cut would be significant and the impact would be tragic.”
Larson said even though the act is set to expire Sept. 30, Congress has until Dec. 31 to come up with a spending package.
Since its inception the Violence Against Women Act has saved the nation $14.8 billion in additional social costs averted because of the funding it provided states, Karen Jarmoc, interim executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said.
In Connecticut alone, Jarmoc said its 18 agencies provided services to more than 54,000 victims of domestic violence last year.
Nearly 1,400 women and 1,000 children sought shelter last year, more than 37,500 victims who received services from advocates in court, Jarmoc said.
“The funding we received from the federal government and the state government is absolutely critical in terms of our ability to respond in a very comprehensive way,” Jarmoc said.
“Connecticut has one of the most comprehensive domestic violence response programs in the nation. Without the renewal of VAWA, many of these programs will see detrimental effects,” she added.