When federal funding decreases, will Colorado leave victims behind?
Written by: Amanda Briggs, Community Engagement Specialist at Rise Above Violence
Across Colorado, a crisis is unfolding—one that is putting survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse at risk of losing access to life-sustaining services and support.
Organizations providing these survivor-centered services rely on Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant funding, which comes from fines and penalties collected from federal crimes. Because of recent changes in federal prosecutions and fines, the pot of money is running dangerously low. According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Justice, which manages VOCA grants in the state, Colorado is facing an estimated 50% cut from last year.
This would have devastating ripple effects in every community across the state. The impact to Pagosa Springs specifically would be funding cuts for Rise Above Violence, upwards of a $250,000 loss. Rise provides crisis support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County and typically serves over 400 survivors each year, answering nearly 500 crisis calls and providing approximately 2,500 services to our community members annually.
State leaders play a key role in finding creative solutions to fill the funding gap. While VOCA is federally funded, these cuts will be felt locally, impacting survivors from the San Luis Valley to Denver Metro and everywhere else in between.
Last year, Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee made state history when it allocated $17 million to victim services for the first time, an act that received statewide recognition and praise. Other states like Texas, Wisconsin, and Utah annually invest anywhere from $25 million to $73 million in victim services, providing sustainable funding local programs can rely on.
Now is the time for Colorado to join these efforts.
Governor Polis’ FY 2024-2025 budget includes $3.3 million for victim services, which falls nearly $27 million short of the $30 million needed to maintain current funding levels. While this is a step in the right direction, we have a long way to go if we want the organizations helping meet the needs of victims and survivors to keep their doors open so they can continue providing these critical services.
Rise Above Violence joins the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA), Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA), and Violence Free Colorado in calling on Governor Polis and the Joint Budget Committee to ensure adequate funding so victims in all communities across Colorado can receive the wraparound services they need to heal and thrive. Without sufficient investment in victim services, our state’s safety, public health, and economy will surely pay the price for years to come.
We would appreciate our community members taking an active role in preventing this crisis by contacting our area legislators and asking them to push the Joint Budget Committee to provide adequate victim service funding.
Senator Cleave Simpson
Senate District 6
Webpage: Cleave Simpson
Phone Number: 303-866-4875
Representative Barbara McLachlan
House District 59
Webpage: Barbara McLachlan
Phone Number: 303-866-2914
Joint Budget Committee
Webpage: Joint Budget Committee
Phone Number: 303-866-3481
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.