Domestic violence programs across the U.S. received letters from the federal Office of Justice Programs (OJP) informing them that if the government is not reopened Friday they must cease their operations. Without the OJP these programs cannot draw federal funds from the Violence Against Women Act.
The OJP will shut down after Friday and will no longer assist grantees with “payment systems and services.”
Domestic violence programs have been deemed non-essential during the government shutdown.
“I run a small, rural domestic violence and rape crisis center in Northern California. We are the only provider of this kind for the entire county and we are supported through funds from the Violence Against Women Act,” a reader wrote Andrew Sullivan of The Dish.
“We are not quality-of-life providers, like social services, but we’re not quite emergency services providers either, like law enforcement,” she added. “We are somewhere in between and apparently not considered essential.”
Other programs have received similar letters, ThinkProgress reported.
“The whole country has been told the same thing by the Office on Violence Against Women,” Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told ThinkProgress. “We also have coalitions across the country that have been unable to draw down their reimbursements from FVPSA [Family Violence Prevention and Services Act] for funds already expended, which means they don’t have operating funds going forward. Some are already discussing layoffs.”
Joyce Grover, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, said the survival of such services “will be a day to day question, especially for very small programs.”
Grantees were drawing down whatever funds they could before the deadline, but “disruption in services may happen in the shutdown goes on for a significant time,” Grover said. “Most programs receive funds on a reimbursement basis, so building a reserve is very difficult.”
Domestic violence programs were already crippled by severe budget cuts. Before the sequestration, almost 80 percent of shelters across the country were getting less funding. Once the sequester began, the programs lost $20 million. It was estimated that more than 70,000 domestic violence victims would lose access to recovery resources because of those cuts, according to ThinkProgress.