Reauthorizing VAWA Will Support Children Exposed to Family Violence

The federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is at the core of an effective, coordinated community response to domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence and stalking. Since its inception 25 years ago, it has provided a streamlined process for meeting the complex needs of survivors in a meaningful, trauma-informed manner. Reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013, each reauthorization serves as an opportunity to enhance critical protections while addressing emerging needs and an ever-changing landscape of abuse.

Several areas of VAWA impact services for children exposed to family violence, including the Consolidated Youth Program. It focuses on comprehensive child- and youth-centered prevention, intervention, and response strategies that maximize community-based efforts and practices to more fully address children, youth, and young adults who are victims of or exposed to domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence and stalking. Some examples of what the program funds include:

  • Advocacy, mental health services, legal advocacy, mentoring services, and preventative education and healthy relationship programming for youth;
  • Effective policies and procedures in schools to address dating and sexual violence and fosters safe, appropriate responses to affected students, while also holding perpetrators accountable;
  • Training for school staff to recognize the warning signs of abuse and to identify resources available for students;
  • Collaborations with runaway and homeless youth programs, courts, prevention programs, law enforcement, and other youth-serving programs; and,
  • Public education campaigns on violence impacting youth.

We know that experiencing trauma, including exposure to family violence, can have a significant impact on kids. Advocating for strong policies like VAWA and the Consolidated Youth Program is essential to supporting them. Earlier this month a bipartisan bill to renew and improve VAWA was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Hon. Karen Bass (CA-37) and Hon. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). A few key enhancements included in the bill that will impact all survivors, including their children, are:

  • Provides increased investments to implement evidence-based prevention programming;
  • Safeguards current protections and resources to ensure that all victims and survivors have access to safety and justice;
  • Improves the mechanism to hold people who perpetrate violence on Native women and children accountable;
  • Provides law enforcement with new resources to develop more trauma-informed approaches;
  • Provides law enforcement with more resources to enforce court orders and prevent intimate partner and law enforcement homicides;
  • Offers improved protections for survivors in federally subsidized housing;
  • Supports victims and survivors who need help rebuilding financially after experiencing violence;
  • Addresses the needs of underserved communities; and
  • Improves the healthcare responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

It is critical that the US House moves swiftly to pass VAWA 2019. Act today and tell your member of Congress to support HR 1585.