"We faced a reduction in our federal funding from VOCA [Victims of Crime Act] and we were faced with cutting hours and positions," said Christine Howard, MOVA's ARRA program manager, SAFEPLAN grant manager and procurement coordinator.
Instead, the stimulus funds enabled MOVA to maintain or develop six programs across the state to provide free support, resources and advocacy for crime victims. The stimulus-funded programs have provided services to approximately 2,200 victims of crime and their families since October of 2009
Recovery Act Impact: Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance
At Boston Medical Center, the stimulus funds helped launch a new initiative, the Community Violence Response Program which will hire two advocate positions who will provide intervention services in a healthcare setting for victims and families of attempted homicide.
At Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, the stimulus funds enabled the organization to maintain a family advocate position. The Medical Center was in danger of cutting the position which coordinates multidisciplinary forensic interviews with child victims and witnesses and helps limit the child's trauma and exposure.
At Wayside Youth and Family Network, a social services agency headquartered in Framingham, the stimulus funds enabled the Survivors of Trauma program to hire a counselor to help Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking children and their parents get the help and support they need in the event of a crisis.
The Parole Board was able to reinstate its Victim Services Program Coordinator. The Coordinator provides notification to victims and family members of an offender's upcoming hearing, release or any change in status. "They make sure families are aware where the offenders are," said Howard. This specific position, which covers much of Western Massachusetts, had been eliminated due to budget cuts but the stimulus funds enabled the Board to fill it.
The Plymouth County District Attorney's Office was able to retain its domestic Violence advocate thanks to the stimulus funds. The advocate assists domestic violence victims throughout the legal proceedings from investigation through arraignment and post conviction and provides explanations, support, and resources like counseling.
Stimulus funding also enabled the Suffolk County Sherriff's Office hire an advocate that provides notifications to crime victims. The grant was completed but the Sherriff's Office was able to continue to fund this important position.
"For the work that our office does, stimulus funds were necessary to maintain the level of services we need in this state," said Howard. "These programs have always done outstanding work and being able to retain a position that was lost or create a new position was important. Without these positions, there would be thousands of people without services, like being notified that an offender is being released or having a child victim receive counseling. The impact of these few positions is huge on the communities they serve."