Grants to assist rape and abuse victims in south and central Alabama
SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL:
Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded grants totaling $1.9 million in support of nonprofit groups that assists rape and abuse victims in south and central Alabama.
The Montgomery Area Family Violence Program, commonly known as the Family Sunshine Center, is using $1.4 million in grant funds to aid domestic violence victims in Autauga, Butler, Chilton, Crenshaw, Dallas, Elmore, Lowndes, Montgomery, Perry and Wilcox counties. Lighthouse Counseling Center is using $290,000 in grants to continue its Standing Together Against Rape program for victims of sexual assault in Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, Montgomery, Perry, and Wilcox counties. Child Protect is using funds of $144,000 to continue providing services for child victims in Autauga, Elmore and Montgomery counties. With a $64,775 grant, Legal Services Alabama will continue offering legal assistance to domestic violence victims in nine counties.
“Abuse victims of all ages should have access to specialized care that can help them begin recovery and seek justice for the crimes committed against them,” Bentley said. “I commend the staff and volunteers from these organizations for their continued work and commitment to helping those most in need.”
The Family Sunshine Center offers counseling services, case management, advocacy and safe shelter for abuse victims. A portion of the grant funds will help renovate a children’s playground at the organization’s emergency shelter. The playground is used as an outdoor play space to assist children as they recover from the trauma and stabilize their lives through therapeutic childcare and play. Matching funds of $129,660 are supplementing the grants.
The agency also is one of 17 domestic violence centers in the state to receive additional funding through the state’s Domestic Violence Trust Fund. The fund, created through the state marriage license fee, is distributed quarterly to the agencies and is used to provide shelter for victims and to conduct educational and prevention programs.
Lighthouse provides crisis counseling, two mobile units to assist victims who live in rural areas, advocacy services and accompaniment to court hearings as well as a 24-hour crisis line and transportation services.
The program also uses volunteer registered nurses who are specially trained to care for victims and collect evidence. The volunteers conduct the exams privately to spare victims the stress of visiting a hospital emergency room where privacy may be limited and wait times can be lengthy. Matching funds of $62,638 will supplement the grant.
Child Protect provides counseling, forensic interviews and family advocacy to children and caregivers. Matching funds of $33,751 are supplementing the grant.
Legal Services Alabama. is using a $64,775 grant to provide attorneys to represent low-income clients in domestic violence cases in Autauga, Bullock, Butler, Chilton, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, Montgomery and Pike counties. Matching funds of $16,193 are supplementing the grant.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available to the state by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ADECA manages a wide array of programs that support law enforcement and traffic safety, energy conservation, water resource management, economic development and recreation.
“Through ADECA’s partnerships with these organizations, we are ensuring that those who unfortunately become victims of abuse will have a safe place to turn for professional assistance as they escape abusive situations and begin recovery,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said.
In addition to grant funds, the organizations rely on individual donations to ensure a full range of services are available to victims.