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VOCA funding questioned

Victim's rights advocates across Ohio are asking people to make their voices heard on the subject of federal funding for victim's advocacy and victim's rights programs.

The federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) provides monies for domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and other crime victim's programs.

While President Bush's budget proposal sets the VOCA cap at $625 million for fiscal year 2004, victim's right's advocates said that amount is not enough to ward off cuts in

assistance programs.

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the president's numbers, so victim's assistance advocates are asking people to write Ohio's two U.S. Senators are plead the case with them to restore funding to VOCA.

"If the federal government keeps taking money away from VOCA, then when states receive less money, it becomes a snowball effect, with local programs getting less money also," Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force Director Ruthanne Delong said.

"We're asking the public to consider what this agency contributes to the community, not only to victims but also in training and education of the public, particularly young people. A lot of this would be cut out (if funding is cut)."

Victim's rights advocates have asked that the VOCA cap be raised to $675 million, which would put another $75 million in federal funding back into assistance programs for crime victims.

Delong said if her funding is cut, it could affect her ability to staff the local domestic violence shelter, or provide services to families trying to escape from violent situations and establish a new life away from it.

"We plead with people to write Sen. DeWine and Sen. Voinovich and request that the cap be raised so our valuable services are not lost," Delong said. "If we are a collective voice, we can make a difference."

Letters to DeWine can be sent to 37 W. Broad Street Suite 300, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Letters to

Voinovich can be sent to 37 W. Broad St., Suite 310, Columbus, Ohio 43215.