Dear Editor, Victim Serving Organizations across the state have seen 2 years of drastic cuts to VOCA (Victim of Crime Act) funding. This has severely affected the ability to serve victims throughout the state. Organizations that were led to believe the 2 years of budget cuts would be the end of reductions are now finding out that even more severe cuts are coming – a decrease from $23 million to $8million. This effects CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) programs, rape crisis centers, special programs in prosecutor’s offices, child advocacy centers, and many more. You are in a position to help save these valuable programs and ensure they continue to serve Arkansas victims. Arkansas DF&A has not allocated ARPA funding to the shortage, as many other states have done. A logical solution would be to make an addition to Senate Bill 495 of a $15 million(plus) bridge to ensure victims of crimes are not without supportive services. A Court Appointed Special Advocate on a dependency neglect case makes a profound impact. Some of the independently verified benefits of a CASA on a child’s case include: A child with a CASA Volunteer has significantly fewer placements than a child without a CASA. Judges report the impact of CASA volunteers is most pronounced in “promoting long-term wellbeing” (92.2 percent), followed by “appropriate services to child and family” (83 percent),and “psychological well being”(79.9 percent). CASA volunteers are highly effective in getting their recommendations accepted in court. In four out of five cases, all or almost all CASA volunteer recommendations are accepted. Over93 percent of judges report a very positive overall experience with the CASA program. Please research and use your influence by contacting legislators to protect Arkansas’ victim services!
A MEMBER OF NATIONALCASA ASSOCIATION