COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) — Groups that help crime victims across South Carolina will soon be getting more than $38 million in federal and state grants. The Public Safety Coordinating Council formally approved the grants this month and the grant programs begin October 1.
The grants are distributed by the South Carolina Crime Victim Services Division, which was added to the Attorney General’s Office by state law earlier this year. It had been a part of the Department of Public Safety. There are three different types of grants: Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants; Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants; and State Victim Assistance Program (SVAP) grants.
“These state and local agencies and non-profit groups do so much to help people who are going through traumatic circumstances, so I’m thrilled to announce these grants that will make a real difference in the lives of victims,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said.
The grants are going to private non-profit groups, law enforcement agencies, solicitor’s offices, and state agencies. For example, The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center is getting a VOCA grant of just over $1 million for “Collaborative Community Response to Child Abuse.” Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands is getting almost $1,270,000 for sexual violence services. The Julie Valentine Center in Greenville is receiving three grants, totaling almost $823,000, for adult crisis services, child therapy services, and sexual assault services.
“These grant awards, administered from the Attorney General’s Office, represent a new and expanded era in collaboration with people on the front lines providing services to citizens injured and traumatized by violent crime. Victim advocates in law enforcement agencies, local non-profit agencies and thousands of volunteers are working together and being supported by these grant funds. The message is: We care, we understand and we are there for you”, said Burke Fitzpatrick, director of the Division of Crime Victim Services in the Office of the Attorney General.
Most of the money, about 98%, comes from federal grants, with the rest coming from state funds. In recent years the Victims of Crime Act has grown exponentially as Congress increased allocations nationwide to catch up with the need for additional services for victims of crime. It is important to note that the Victims of Crime Act funds come from federal fines and penalties, not from taxpayers, and it does not add to the national debt or deficit in any way.
In the Lowcountry, victims services groups are receiving grants totaling $9,412,004. Those grants are going to groups in Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, and Hampton counties. For example, in Beaufort, Hopeful Horizons is receiving a grant of $1,259,664 to continue to provide domestic violence, rape crisis, and children’s advocacy services. The Nine Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office will receive $496,436 to fund seven full-time Victim Advocates who will provide courtroom assistance to victims and their families. And in Dorchester County, Doors to Freedom will receive almost $300,000 to provide staff and supplies for a long-term residential program for female victims of sex trafficking.