Family Visitation Program’s Supervised Visitation Faces Challenges After Funding Cuts
On June 16th, the Governor’s Crime Commission announced that it would no longer be funding grants to several longtime, ongoing services, including a $200,000 annual grant that supports the Family Visitation Program’s supervised visitation services.
In addition, our community partners Pisgah Legal Services, Our VOICE, and Helpmate also did not receive North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission funding for their ongoing programs. Last year’s grants, which come from the Crime Commission’s allocation of federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funds, are scheduled to end on September 30, 2021.
How Can You Help?
Call your representatives
Call and email your local and state representatives to demand the allocation of funding for these essential services. Our Family Visitation Program services help keep survivors and children safe from further abuse and retraumatization.
Your generosity will help us maintain our services in the short term as we continue to lobby for institutional support for our essential services for victims of interpersonal violence.
Share our story
We need help to mobilize our community support to ensure that these services remain available for vulnerable community members who need them. Please share our story widely on social media and by word of mouth.
We are hopeful that the funding will be replaced, and will need the community’s support to ensure that it is: State and local governments could use American Rescue Plan Act funds to fill these gaps. Foundations could make substantial grants to ensure victims are served during this critical period. Gifts from individuals, corporations, and faith groups will be essential. Thousands of victims in our community depend on these organizations to heal from abuse. Ensuring ongoing availability of these critical services is a necessary step in individuals’ recovery from abuse and in our community’s recovery from COVID-19.
The Mediation Center’s Family Visitation Program provides supervised visitation and safe child exchange in cases of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. Services prevent ongoing violence, abuse, and trauma to child and adult victims during visits and exchanges, which are often court-ordered. Many families depend on this service for safety: In the past six years, the Mediation Center’s Family Visitation Program has provided more than 4,200 supervised visits and exchanges. This grant would have funded visitation and exchange services for more than 50 families.
Family Visitation Program services continued during the pandemic, but were disrupted by lockdowns, court closures, victims’ inability to leave abusers due to economic strain and limited support, as well as decreased reports of abuse due to school closures and children’s isolation. Over the past three months, the Family Visitation Program has seen a rapid increase in demand for supervised visits as things return to normal, with more than 20 new families seeking services.
Organizations Impacted Across WNC
Each of the four organizations facing budget cuts, The Mediation Center’s Family Visitation Program, Pisgah Legal Services, Helpmate, and Our VOICE, offer complementary, non-duplicative services for victims. Replacement funding is critically needed from local governments, donors, faith communities, and foundations to mitigate this loss and prevent a dire lack of services for victims.
This loss of funding comes at a time when services are needed most. Especially during the lockdown phase of the pandemic, adult and child survivors were trapped in homes with abusers, unable to access support networks including extended family, childcare and schools, religious groups, and other organizations. Our community is now experiencing what the United Nations has dubbed the “shadow pandemic,” wherein survivors are emerging and seeking help as economic and social conditions improve.
We know that these funding cuts will most affect the lives of the individuals who benefit from The Mediation Center’s Family Visitation Program and the complementary services of our three partner organizations. Vanessa’s story is an example of how a family might use the continuum of services offered by The Mediation Center and the three other local agencies in their pursuit of safety and healing. This example serves to make more real the importance of all four agencies’ services in the process of getting support for victims of violence.
There are a few ways you can help while The Mediation Center works alongside our community partners to find funding for these essential services for victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, and human trafficking.
Contact these elected state officials to encourage them to replace this important community funding to agencies with long-term programs that did not receive VOCA or VAWA GCC funding in this cycle.