Owensboro’s institutions dedicated to assisting victims of crime received a financial boost this week.
Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet announced about $37 million in grant funding to 133 state crime victim service providers through the Victims of Crime Act, or VOCA.
“This funding is vital to these 133 programs that work tirelessly to respond to the emotional and physical needs of survivors and provide a much-deserved measure of safety and security,” Beshear said in a press release.
The state awarded $750,000 to the Green River Regional Rape Victim Services, which includes CASA of Midwest Kentucky and New Beginnings Sexual Assault Support Services.
New Beginnings, based in Owensboro, offers free, confidential crisis and long-term therapy services to sexual assault survivors of all ages, gender, color and disability status throughout the seven county Green River region.
VOCA funds 16 of the agency’s 18 staff positions — of which about a third are therapists — as well as prevention programming in local schools.
“The funding is going to allow us to continue to offer the same services we have been offering. It’s vital,” said executive director Karla Ward.
This year, the funding seems even more essential. According to Ward, the increased time spent at home may have caused an “expected” increase in sexual assault cases regionally in both children and adults, along with decreased reporting.
The United Nations Population Fund estimated earlier this year that there was a 20 percent increase of domestic abuse worldwide during lockdowns.
“We’re starting to see an uptick in the number of cases coming in,” Ward said. “Both adults and kids are living with their abusers. When you’re isolated, you don’t have a safe space to go to.”
State VOCA funds will also support Oasis Women’s Shelter and the Daviess County Attorney’s Office next year.
Oasis Women’s Shelter in Owensboro received $705,103 for its work providing refuge for women and children — and eventually men — escaping domestic violence situations.
The nonprofit offers an emergency shelter, domestic violence education, referrals for substance abuse treatment, counseling, crisis intervention, legal advocacies and life skills education on parenting and financial literacy, among other services.
Oasis can also provide clients with housing and employment advocacy, rapid rehousing case management and specialized support groups for topics like grief and loss and family dynamics.
Daviess County Attorney’s Office received $62,060 for its crime victim assistance unit, which offers advocates for victims of domestic violence as well as assistance filing emergency protective orders.