The Bulletin Board

Executive Council to vote on $5 million in federal money for agencies that assist crime victims

By: - September 28, 2021 11:49 am
State House dome

The Executive Council is scheduled to vote on the nomination Wednesday. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

Advocates say the $5 million in federal funding for crime victims up for approval at the Executive Council Wednesday could not come at a better time. They were anticipating a drop in their usual grant funding just as reports of violence and abuse against adults and children have surged.

“Core services will remain in place because of these funds,” said Lyn Schollett, executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, one of the agencies in line for the new funding.

The council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the state Department of Justice’s request to accept the $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding and award the money to victim service providers such as the coalition, Granite State Children’s Alliance Child Advocacy Centers, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, Catholic Charities, and others.

“Essentially it will support critical services across New Hampshire,” said Joy Barrett, CEO of the children’s alliance, which oversees 11 child advocacy centers throughout the state. With its funding, the alliance will pay for forensic investigators and case workers handling crimes against children.

When the pandemic first hit and led to stay-at-home orders, calls to domestic violence hotlines plummeted because victims were trapped at home with their abusers and unable to seek help. Reports of sexual violence dropped 23 percent, stalking by 25 percent, and domestic violence by 14 percent, according to the coalition’s records. 

The children’s alliance saw its requests for assistance from the state Division for Children, Youth, and Families drop as well because the agency was getting fewer reports of abuse and neglect. Barrett said remote learning kept children at home with abusers and out of sight of teachers, who are the biggest source of calls.

The coalition will use its funding to pay advocates to run support groups and trainings; accompany victims at court hearings; and respond when victims are hospitalized. 

Calls began to climb as the state reopened, Schollett and Barrett said. 

The advocates were bracing for a drop in support from the grant that usually covers their work, which is funded through criminal fines and penalties. Trump administration changes to that grant led to a drop in revenue and they diverted the funds elsewhere. The Biden administration has reversed the changes, but the funding won’t return immediately. The federal grant before councilors Wednesday will help cover that loss in the meantime.

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.