CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice signed House Bill 336 that awarded $3,999,933 to the Victims of Crime Act Assistance (VOCA) sub-grants.

VOCA funds 84 public and private non-profit agencies throughout West Virginia. The funds provide many services for these agencies:

  • counseling
  • personal advocacy
  • court advocacy
  • client transportation
  • support services to victims of crimes:
    • domestic violence
    • sexual violence
    • child abuse
    • elder abuse

Federal budget cuts reduced funds for the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) by 23 percent, and the bill signed by Justice is intended to offset those cuts for a number of agencies in West Virginia, including WVCAN.

“Only a hand full of states have leadership that are stepping in to save these services, so we are lucky to live in a state where we care about and actually act on our care for the underdogs and the people who are hurting most, so I’m grateful for that, but it is a challenging time to be doing this kind of work,” said Kate Flack, Chief Executive Director for WVCAN.

The WVCAN serves 44 counties in West Virginia through 21 child advocacy centers.

Flack said the centers are grateful for the funds that allowed the WVCAN to continue providing services.

She said the legislature and the governor identified the budget cuts as a problem. Before the bill was signed, the WVCAN was looking for ways to cut expenses to reduce the impact on services they are able to provide to child victims.

Kate Flack, Chief Executive Director, talks about the present and future for the WVCAN.

Flack said that reducing the services provided to the children they serve is a last resort, and an action they don’t want to take. Instead, all centers in West Virginia prepared to cut costs in other ways, like laying off employees and finding other funding which would have taken a toll on the quality of services they would be able to provide.

The budget cuts for this year were alleviated by the legislatures bill that was signed by Justice, but the WVCAN will face an even large budget cut for next year of 66 percent.

Flack says that she hopes other funds will become available.

People can help their local child advocacy center by donating comfort items like new blankets, stuffed animals, toys and games.