How you can help advocate for federal funding for child crime victims

Mar 15, 2021 at 11:00 am by Child Advocacy Center

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The Child Advocacy Center is asking the Rutherford and Cannon County communities to advocate with our U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative for federal funding for crime victims. The Child Advocacy Center has relied on this federal funding for the last 20 years to provide critically needed services to over 24,750 child abuse victims and their families in Rutherford and Cannon Counties. This funding is currently in jeopardy. 

“Do you have a couple of minutes to advocate for victims of child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence?” Child Advocacy Center director Sharon De Boer asked. 

The Child Advocacy Center was established in Rutherford County in 2000 and in Cannon County in 2008 utilizing funding from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant. The Child Advocacy Center was notified by the National Children's Alliance that there will be a 35% cut in VOCA funding if the VOCA fund is not fixed.  

The Child Advocacy Center's work is very specialized. There are only six forensic interviewers and family advocates in Rutherford County that have received extensive specialized training to interview child victims and assist families.  The team triages emergency child abuse cases every morning, prioritizes cases, and responds with the Child Protective Investigative Team to child victims who are in imminent danger. The VOCA grant funds these six employees and the critically needed services they provide to our community. 

The Child Advocacy Center is not the only Rutherford County and Cannon County agency that is funded by the Victims of Crime Act funding. The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, Cannon County SAVE, and the District Attorney's Office Victim Witness Program are all critically needed programs in our community that will be impacted by the VOCA grant funding cuts. 

The VOCA fund was established in 1984 by the Reagan Administration. These funds have been used to assist crime victims across the nation for 37 years. The VOCA grant funds are not taxpayer funded. VOCA is funded by monetary penalties from federal crime convictions.  

Here is where you come in. The Child Advocacy Center is asking for our community's support. Please send an email and make telephone calls to your Senators and Representative. Urge them to support services for crime victims. Click the links in this news article to email our Tennessee Senators and Representative. Go to their online webpage, cut and paste the information in the next paragraph, and sign your name. It is a simple process that takes less than 5 minutes.  

Letter to Legislators: I am writing to you about the VOCA grant fund. Services to crime victims are important to me. Please co-sponsor H.R. 1652/S. 611 (The VOCA Fix) and vote YES when the bill comes up for a vote. This legislation fixes the current trend of very low funding levels in the Crime Victims Fund and puts the fund on a sustainable path to ensure funding is available to directly serve victims of crime. VOCA funds critically needed services for crime victims in my community, including the Child Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program, Cannon County SAVE, and the District Attorney's Office Victim Witness Program. These programs rely on VOCA funding to exist. 

Tennessee Senators 

Here are the links to email and call our Tennessee Senators 

Senator Marsha Blackburn: 
Washington DC: (202) 224-3344 
Nashville: (629) 800-6600  

Senator Bill Haggerty: 
Washington DC: (202) 224-4944 
Nashville: (615) 736-5129 

Tennessee Representatives 
Representative Scott DesJarlais: 
Washington DC: (202)225-6831 
Murfreesboro: (615) 896-1986 

If this is not your Representative: 

Click HERE to enter your zip code and find your Representative and email them. 

The Child Advocacy Center set a goal of 500 emails and telephone calls from Rutherford and Cannon Counties. De Boer concluded, “Please help us make this happen! Together we can make a difference in children's lives!” 

For more questions, contact the Child Advocacy Center at 615-867-9000.  

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