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Iowa advocacy groups brace for funding cuts, serving 28,000 fewer crime victims

The Iowa Coalitions Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault are calling on the governor's office to use American Rescue Plan funds to offset the cuts.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault say their organizations are bracing for funding cuts that will result in 28,000 fewer victims served over the next two years.  

The organizations say they have received official notice from Iowa's Crime Victim Assistance Division they should expect a 15-22% funding cut. Iowa CASA and ICADV say this is due to federal cuts to the Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) victim assistance grant funding to Iowa for the fiscal year 2021. 

According to a joint release sent by the organziations, a request was made to Gov. Kim Reynolds to allocate a portion of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to help offset the cuts. The groups say the governor has not responded to their request. 

Local 5 reached out to the governor's office regarding this claim, and a spokesperson responded with this statement:

"We're thankful that Senator Ernst introduced a bill in Congress that was recently passed that will restore the federal funding for crime victims. Any requests for ARPA state funds through our office are evaluated and have been all managed through grant programs."

"The magnitude of the unmet need is unprecedented and federal ARPA funding is not only available to meet this significant funding need but affords a rare opportunity to do so without traditional budgetary tradeoffs”, said Dr. Maria Corona, Executive Director of Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “We urge Governor Reynolds to seize this opportunity to support crime victims. Our agency and network of local programs cannot sustain cuts of this size; they mean the number of advocates to serve victims will be limited and meeting the needs of survivors will be dramatically reduced."

Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Elizabeth Barnhill said:

“It is too soon to know all of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on violence in our state, but emerging data and reports from those on the front lines have shown that all types of violence have intensified, and we are seeing demand for services increase as those survivors and their families are beginning to come forward. There is never a good time for a cut like this, but for it to come now is truly devastating. Victims and their families need support now, and ARPA funds are critical in this moment to ensure that support remains available.”

Federal VOCA victim assistance grants are financed with non-taxpayer funds collected from criminal fines and penalties. These grants are currently the largest source of funds for providing support services to victims of violent crime.

ICADV and IowaCASA say the amount of money that was cut – $6 million – is more money than the state of Iowa invests in crime victim services each year.