Update: House Passes FVPSA Reauthorization Act 2018, H.R. 6014

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center celebrates the passage of H.R. 6014 to reauthorize the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA). NIWRC urges the Senate to act with a sense of urgency and swiftly pass its companion, S. 2784. FVPSA is the only dedicated federal funding source for domestic violence shelters and services.

“In American Indian and Alaska Native communities, where survivors face intimate partner violence at a rate of 55.5%, funding for culturally based or tribally created resources is extremely scarce, and nonexistent in many tribal communities. FVPSA resources are critical for meeting this gap,” said Lucy Simpson, Executive Director of NIWRC. “The StrongHearts Native Helpline, which launched March 6, 2017, with FVPSA funds, helps to address this inadequacy by acting as a culturally appropriate, confidential service for American Indian and Alaska Natives who are affected by domestic and dating violence.”

First passed in 1984, FVPSA is the oldest and only federally dedicated funding stream for domestic violence shelters and services programs in the country. FVPSA supports more than 200 tribal programs based on an annual set-aside for Indian tribes. The legislation mandates that “not less than 10%” of the annual appropriation shall be used to support Indian tribes to achieve the purposes of the Act. FVPSA funds include emergency shelter, crisis hotlines, counseling services, victim assistance initiatives, and other supportive services.

With funding under FVPSA, many tribal programs have developed and provide a spectrum of services, including: shelter; safety planning; counseling; legal services; child care and services for children; career planning; life skills training; community education and public awareness; and other necessities, such as clothing, food, and transportation. Yet, despite these advances, funding and services remain nonexistent for over one-half of all Indian nations. Given this lack of resources, Indian tribes and tribal coalitions not only support the reauthorization of FVPSA in 2018, but also strongly support increased FVPSA funding for enhanced service delivery to Native victims of domestic violence, including the $5 million to supplement the tribal set aside appropriated in FY 2018.

NIWRC thanks Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Gwen Moore (D-WI) for their leadership and commitment to ensuring that local domestic violence programs can continue to prevent future violence and provide safe places for victims to rebuild their lives free from abuse. We also express our gratitude to Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), and the more than 100 Representatives who cosponsored H.R. 6014 for their support of its passage.

“Native women are in desperate need of emergency shelter safe housing. There is such a severe crisis in the shortage of housing in many tribal communities that often women have no option but to stay in housing with an abuser.”—Caroline La Porte, Senior Native Affairs Advisor, NIWRC

FVPSA is the primary federal funding source dedicated to supporting immediate shelter and supportive services for victims of family violence, domestic violence, or dating violence and their dependents. Administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children, Youth and Families, FVPSA supports these activities through state and tribal shelter programs, state domestic violence coalitions, training and technical assistance service providers and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Of the $135 million appropriated for FVPSA’s shelter and supportive services in 2015, $13.5 million in FVPSA formula grants were distributed based on population to more than 200 tribes in 26 states. Local tribal domestic violence programs served 30,452 victims of domestic violence and their children. This is 2.3 percent of clients served by FVPSA-funded programs. Ninety percent of adults served were female, and 10 percent were male.

Of the $135 million appropriated to FVPSA in 2015, over $94.5 million FVPSA formula grants were distributed based on population to every state, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. FVPSA State and Tribal Grants fund close to 1,600 domestic violence shelters and 1,300 non-residential service sites. Each year, local domestic violence programs, including tribal programs, serve about 1.3 million victims of domestic violence and their children. 92.5 percent of the adults served were female, and 7.5 percent were male.

The legislation mandates that “not less than 10 percent” of the annual appropriation shall be used to support Indian tribes to achieve the purposes of the Act. FVPSA funds include support for emergency shelter, crisis hotlines, counseling services, victim assistance initiatives, and other similar services. Some of the FVPSA state fund requirements govern the FVPSA tribal funds.

FVPSA is also linked with other federal laws as noted above. With the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, Congress broadened the federal response to domestic violence to provide additional resources for victim services and focus on the law enforcement and legal response to domestic violence and other crimes involving violence against women – sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and for Indian tribes also sex trafficking. In addition, FVPSA includes victim assistance with accessing other federal and state financial assistance programs, including the Crime Victims Fund(CVF), created and authorized in 1984 under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) which has 2 programs – the Victim Compensation and Victim Assistance Formula Grants Programs. In recent years, between 40-50% of victims served by these 2 programs were domestic violence victims.