Bill seeks anti-violence funds consolidation

The 53 sexual and domestic-violence organizations in Virginia could serve victims better if a House of Delegates Appropriations committee acts on a bill to streamline the funding these organizations rely on.

House Bill 1, the first piece of legislation filed in the 2014 General Assembly session, would consolidate numerous sexual and domestic anti-violence funding streams and grant programs in a sub-fund of the Criminal Injuries and Compensation Fund.

By consolidating the current numerous funding streams and grant programs, administrative costs would be reduced because sexual assault and domestic violence agencies would not have to petition to multiple state agencies that now provide such funding, said Sheree Kedrick, executive director of Hanover Safe Place.

"One of the goals of streamlining funding is to lift the burden of applying for four to seven grants down to one," Kedrick said. "So, more time can be spent on community engagement."

HB1 originated during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in October 2013, when the Virginia Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Action Alliance brought budgeting and funding concerns to the attention of Delegate Chris Peace, R-Hanover. In response, chief co-patron Peace helped draft HB1 to put more time and resources toward the needs of sexual assault and domestic violence victims by improving the funding structure.

"There's been talk of a ‘war on women,’ but there's no clearer war in the community than sexual assault and domestic violence," Peace said.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund was created in 1977 by the Virginia General Assembly to pay unreimbursed expenses of victims who suffer personal physical or emotional injury. The fund is supported by court fees, offender assessments, restitution and a federal Victim of Crime Act Grant, which supplements monies available to victims of violent crime.

While Kedrick said some smaller organizations, unfamiliar with the CICF, are skeptical of consolidating their resources, everyone is open to streamlining funding.

"In a time where we are losing funding, collaboration can help us enhance our services," Kedrick said.

Peace says while the services available to women and other victims of sexual assault and domestic violence have increased over the years, incidents of sexual and domestic violence have not decreased. The limited supply of resources available to Virginia victims cannot meet the demand for services.

A National Network to End Domestic Violence 2012 census found 1,374 Virginia victims were served on an average day, while 146 requests were not addressed. Unmet requests included victims being turned down for services such as emergency shelter, legal representation, transitional housing and hospital accompaniment.

According to the census, Virginia sexual and domestic violence prevention organizations cited underfunding as the primary reason why all assistance requests could not be met.

Kristi Van Audenhove, executive director of the action alliance, stated in a press release the current funding structure is burdensome and does not lend itself to the best utilization of resources.

In addition to the proposed funding consolidation, Peace proposed an amendment to the House budget bill to allocate $10.6 million in the first fiscal year and $18 million in the second fiscal year.

The funds would help sexual and domestic violence organizations expand their services to eliminate the problem of unmet requests for help, stated alliance lobbyist Aimee Perron Seibert.

The final amount of $18 million, which is the gap in funding identified to sustain the population in need of services, would help cement the longevity of these programs, Seibert stated.

The funds will provide for 24-hour crisis service centers, court advocacy programs, hospital accompaniment services, prevention outreach and more, Peace said.

The bill is still awaiting a hearing in the House Appropriations committee. Peace said he sees no reason why members of both parties wouldn't support the bill.

"We certainly expect some budget negotiations to occur as the two sides work out what is possible during this budget cycle," Seibert stated. "We are grateful that both the House and the Senate recognize the great need that exists."
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Therapeutic healing


In a room labeled the garden room, a bright space with lavender-colored walls and pebble-gray chairs, art therapist Becky Jacobson might ask her patients to imagine a safe place, but she doesn’t ask them to describe it to her — she wants them to draw it.

The patients are free to draw whatever they envision, expressing themselves through their colored markers, a form of healing through art therapy.

“Some people might not feel safe anywhere because they have had hard things happening to them, and I have the background to help that person reground and feel safe in the group,” Jacobson said. > Read more.

Eight’s enough? Crowded race for 56th District develops


Following the retirement of Delegate Peter Farrell [R-56th District], a number of candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to vie for the open seat in the Virginia General Assembly district, which contains a portion of Henrico’s Far West End.

Democratic challengers include Lizzie Basch and Melissa Dart, while Republican contenders include George Goodwin, Matt Pinsker, Graven Craig, Surya Dhakar, Jay Prendergrast and John McGuire. In addition to a section of Henrico, the district also includes portions of Goochland and Spotsylvania County, as well as all of Louisa County. > Read more.

On the trail to Awareness


Twenty-five teams, composed of some 350 participants, gathered at Dorey Park in Varina April 8 for the Walk Like MADD 5k, to benefit Mothers Against Drunk Driving Virginia. The event raised more than $35,000, with more funds expected to come in through May 7. > Read more.

Leadership Metro Richmond honors St. Joseph’s Villa CEO


Leadership Metro Richmond honored St. Joseph's Villa CEO Kathleen Burke Barrett, a 2003 graduate of LMR, with its 2017 Ukrop Community Vision Award during its annual spring luncheon April 6.

The award honors a LMR member who demonstrates a purposeful vision, a sense of what needs to be done, clear articulation with concern and respect for others with demonstrated action and risk-taking. > Read more.

Glen Allen H.S. takes second in statewide economics competition

Glen Allen H.S. was among six top schools in the state to place in the 2017 Governor’s Challenge in Economics and Personal Finance.

Taught by Patricia Adams, the Glen Allen H.S. team was runner-up in the Economics division, in which teams faced off in a Quiz Bowl. > Read more.

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The Latin Ballet of Virginia will present “MOMO” at 7 p.m. June 2 and at 2 p.m. June 3-4 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Based on the fantasy novel by Michael Ende (author of “The NeverEnding Story”), “MOMO” is about a little girl who saves the world from the time thieves by her special ability to listen. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. For details and tickets, call 356-3876 or visit http://www.latinballet.com/momo-event. Full text

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