Every Voice Matters

Last week, REACH joined representatives from other Jane Doe Inc. member agencies at the Massachusetts State House to tell legislators and their staff about the lifesaving work that we do and the need to keep funding it.

State House_0Here’s what Jane Doe’s website has to say: “On a daily basis, community programs are working to prevent sexual and domestic violence and create safer communities. These services provide survivors with the support they need to rebuild their lives. Yet, despite some restorations, current funding levels remain as much as 12% below Fiscal Year 2009 levels.  In addition proposed rate changes for domestic violence residential services fall far below the actual cost of these services. JDI is asking for an increase to bring parity to the contracts for providing domestic violence residential services. Without adequate funding for these services, too many survivors will not receive the help they need when they find the courage to seek help.”

As we talked about a couple of weeks ago on this blog, a recent survey showed that during a 24-hour period, 443 requests for services at a domestic violence program in Massachusetts were unmet. These budget cuts have very real consequences for domestic violence survivors, and all of our voices are crucial in letting our lawmakers know that it’s not ok.

For REACH’s part, we made 28 visits to different legislators’ offices on Thursday. We met with two representatives, Alice Peisch and Ruth Balser, said hi to our local folks, Emily in John Lawn’s office and Mark in Tom Stanley’s office, and had many great conversations with aides in other offices. We talked with them about the legislative priorities, budget requests and REACH’s services. We heard from multiple aides that they were working with constituents that were affected by domestic violence, and were glad to offer them resources that could be useful in helping these folks.

Legislative Advocacy Day may be over for 2013, but the struggle to adequately fund our services and prevention efforts continues. In addition, there are several pieces of legislation that would improve protection for domestic violence victims and consequences for perpetrators, which you can read about here (pdf).

We encourage you to add your voice to the growing movement speaking out on behalf of domestic violence survivors, and in support of prevention efforts that have the power to make domestic violence a thing of the past. Contact your legislator today (you can look them up here if you’re not sure) and let them know that you support funding for domestic violence and sexual assault programs back to FY 2009 levels. Your voice matters and together we can make a difference.

Pictured: REACH MSW intern Laurel Eaton, Executive Director Laura Van Zandt, and Board member Ora Gladstone at Legislative Advocacy Day

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