August
NEWS & UPDATES
Programs across the country are taking action to preserve much-needed victim services funding
Last week, Project Safeguard signed on to two letters sent to local and national lawmakers, asking them to prioritize funding for victim services programs in budget decisions. These letters are part of widespread efforts by programs and advocacy groups across the country to address cuts to funding that will impact organizations serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes.

On a national level, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund, created by Congress in 1984, uses non-taxpayer dollars from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) to provide grants to programs serving crime victims. The source for CVF is penalties and fines from the prosecution of white collar crimes, such as fraud and embezzlement, which trickle down to the VOCA fund to be administered as grants. In recent years, deposits to these funds have declined due to changes in prosecutorial strategies. The VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 (VOCA Fix) was signed into law as a critical first step to secure funding for victim services, but the CVF balance is historically low and more action is needed. This year, national budget conversations for 2024 are proposing what would amount to a 40% cut to VOCA funds. With programs across the country still feeling the impact of budget cuts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, cuts to this national source of funding we rely on would be devastating, forcing layoffs, program cuts, and potentially even closures of organizations serving victims of crime. Small programs and programs in rural communities, low-income communities, and Communities of Color will be the most impacted by these cuts, and people who experience crime victimization may find themselves without support and resources.

In Colorado, the Division of Criminal Justice Office of Victims Programs (OVP) is responsible for administering VOCA funds through a bi-annual competitive grant process. OVP has informed grantees that they are anticipating a 40%-50% reduction in available funding beginning in the 2025-26 grant cycle, and funding has been already been declining over the last few grant cycles. For context, 85% of staff positions at Project Safeguard are currently supported, in part, by VOCA funds. With the exception of some temporary funding that was part of COVID relief programs over the last few years, Colorado provides very limited funding for victim services programs. Victim Assistance and Law Enforcement (VALE) grants are the most common source of state funding for victim services and these have helped to supplement federal dollars in the past. However, these funds have also been declining since 2011 and have not recovered from the COVID pandemic, as they are supported by the collection of fines and fees through Colorado courts. Court closures related to the pandemic, as well as fines and fees being waived more frequently by courts, have significantly reduced the availability of VALE funding. No general budget line item currently exists in the state to support victim services, so the cuts to these local and national funding streams will have significant impacts on victim services agencies across Colorado, which will in turn harm the victims and survivors we serve.

We hope that lawmakers will recognize the seriousness of these funding cuts and take action to protect VOCA at the national level and prioritize funding for victim services at the state level. If you would like to learn more about these issues, we suggest following/subscribing to updates from the Colorado Organization from Victim Assistance (COVA), Violence Free Colorado (VFC), and/or the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA).
Our Legal Director participated in a panel at the 2023 Family Law Institute
On August 11, PSG's Legal Director, Amy Pohl, was part of a panel on the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Law Cases at the 2023 Family Law Institute in Vail, CO. Also on the panel were Jennifer McDonald Esq., The Honorable Karen Hubler (2nd JD), and Chessie Morgan, Esq. of Colorado Legal Services. More than 100 attorneys, child and family investigators, judges, and court personnel attended the panel presentation!
Family law cases involving domestic violence are some of the most complex, and dangerous, matters that come before the courts. PSG staff attorneys frequently support survivors whose abuser continues to weaponize the family law system long after a divorce or custody case has been finalized.

PSG's Attorney Services Program provides free legal advice and representation to survivors to reduce the financial barriers associated with this kind of case, which require many more hours of research and preparation than the average family law case. A 2014 Report on Civil Legal Needs in Colorado states, “Legal assistance can help keep families together, preserve housing, ensure access to health care and other basic needs, and reduce domestic violence.”

We are grateful for our community and partners like these panelists for helping us continue create more equitable access to the civil legal system for survivors!
18th Annual Domestic Violence Counts survey takes place on September 6
The Domestic Violence Counts (DV Counts) survey is an annual noninvasive, unduplicated count of adults and children who seek services from U.S. domestic violence programs during a single 24-hour survey period. Conducted annually by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) since 2006, DV Counts takes into account the dangerous nature of domestic violence by using a survey designed to protect the confidentiality and safety of victims.

In 2022, 28 out of 46 (61%) domestic violence programs in Colorado participated in DV Counts and served 1,356 adult and child domestic violence victims in just one day. In their report, one advocate shared that “Maintaining and hiring adequate staff has been a significant challenge this year, and it’s difficult for our agency to offer competitive wages. Turnover is not trauma-informed, and it creates a sense of instability and insecurity for survivors when staff members leave the agency or when positions sit vacant.”

NNEDV’s DVCounts survey helps us tell the stories behind the numbers and we’re thrilled to participate. Learn more at NNEDV.org/DVCounts
Here are a few ways you can support Project Safeguard all year long
Many nonprofits rely heavily on year-end giving from individual donors, which is why you get bombarded with emails asking you to give in November and December.
For some people, making a smaller monthly donation is more budget-friendly, and helps provide sustainable funding for nonprofits.

It's easy to make a one-time or recurring donation to Project Safeguard through our Colorado Gives 365 page.
Many workplaces have programs that allow employees to give to a charity directly out of their paycheck and some employers will even match donations! If you have made or are planning to make a donation, ask your employer if they will match it.

If you work for the City and County of Denver, you can give to Project Safeguard through The Denver Employees Charitable Campaign.
The King Soopers/City Market Community Rewards Program makes fundraising easy by donating to local organizations based on the shopping you do! Here’s how it works:

Login to your King Soopers or City Market account, click on Community Rewards, and search for Project Safeguard by name or use the code KQ344. Once you have linked your card, all you have to do is shop at King Soopers and swipe your Shopper’s Card!