WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers say the need for domestic violence help centers is greater than ever before, but a federal funding requirement is putting those services at risk.
“For every $5 the federal government puts in, they require the local entity to provide a dollar match,” Virginia Rep. Ben Cline said.
Cline says with the calls to domestic violence centers increasing, he’s introducing legislation to streamline access to federal funding.
“This suspends, temporarily, the $1 match. (It) allows that $5 federal contribution to flow through to our local domestic violence shelters and help those victims who are in need of that assistance,” Cline said.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn says the change is necessary.
“This gives organizations the ability to use the funding that they have for other purposes to fulfill their greatest needs,” Cornyn said.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, centers could meet the requirement through community contributions or the value of volunteer hours, but that’s harder to do in the middle of a pandemic.
“A local program might not have enough funds to do the federal match and the other things they need to do,” anti-domestic violence advocate Monica McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin is with the National Network to End Domestic Violence. She says shrinking state funding, unexpected costs and limited volunteer access create new challenges.
“All of those things mean that local domestic violence organizations are going to struggle. Hard-won federal resources could sit on the table,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin hopes Cline’s bill is passed as part of the next coronavirus relief package.