The legislation authorizes federal funding for sexual assault and domestic abuse programs, among other items. A number of Floyd County agencies that either receive federal funds or work closely with those that do hailed the act’s passage.
“If it hadn’t been authorized, a lot of our funding probably would have been nonexistent,” said Kim Davis, director of the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia. “(Thursday) was a great day for us.”
Davis’ center provides 24-hour crisis intervention, which includes counseling, support groups and assistance with legal services. Last year the center provided more than 235 counseling sessions and fielded more than 500 crisis calls.
If the act had failed to pass, Davis said she would have seen funding for her $300,000 annual budget slow to a trickle.
Hospitality House and Harbor House — two other Floyd County agencies that work closely with the sexual assault center — receive no funding from the Violence Against Women Act.
However, the act’s implementation shows the state of Georgia that federal legislators are willing to provide funding.
That goes a long way with state lawmakers, said Amy Weaver, director of the Hospitality House.
“Had they allowed this to drop, I think what would have come next is the state to reduce funding,” Weaver said.
Weaver’s agency provides a 27-bed shelter for those who leave abusive relationships. It serves about 1,500 area adults and children each year, Weaver said.
Gail Garland, executive director of Harbor House, called the act “critical.”
“If any of us take a major hit in funding, it’s going to affect the other,” Garland said. “We all want the best for each others’ agencies.”
District Attorney Leigh Patterson agreed.
“It would have really damaged a lot of programs the sexual assault center and Hospitality House has,” she said.
Children suspected of being abused are interviewed at Harbor House.
While Garland’s agency receives no funding from the Violence Against Women Act, she relies on agencies that do. Someone might visit the sexual assault center one day and go to her office the next for a forensic interview.
“There is definitely a lot of collaboration between our three agencies, serving the same clients,” Garland said.
President Barack Obama has indicated he will sign the act.