On March 11, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies held a hearing on FY2009 funding for Department of Justice programs and offices, including the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).
Cindy Dyer, director of OVW, began her testimony with a brief overview of the office: “The mission of OVW is to provide federal leadership to reduce violence against women, and to administer justice for, and strengthen services to, all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Since 1995, OVW has awarded over $3 billion in grants and cooperative agreements to enable communities to enforce protection orders, provide legal assistance and other services to victims, provide intensive training to police officers, prosecutors, and judges, and support local efforts to respond to violence against women.”
Ms. Dyer noted that OVW has expanded since its last reauthorization in 2005 (P.L. 109-162). OVW was awarded funds for six new grant programs in the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-161) (see The Source, 12/20/07); the new programs focus on enhancing services for victims of sexual assault, “victims with culturally and linguistically specific needs,” children, Native American/Alaska Native women, and to engage men and youth in violence prevention efforts. “We know our funds are making a difference and are reaching victims in the six-month reporting period from January to June of 2006, OVW’s discretionary program grantees reported that they served more than 119,000 victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; in calendar year 2006, subgrantees of our STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program reported serving over half a million victims,” she said.
Ms. Dyer concluded her testimony, saying, “The FY2009 president’s budget requests $280 million for OVW [see The Source, 2/5/08], a significant reduction from the amount sought in recent years. I know that this year’s budget recommends reductions to OVW grant programs that our sister agencies have been experiencing for the past several years. I can assure you that OVW will leverage its resources so that it can continue to support programs that keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable.”