Funding gap looms for Alaska’s domestic violence programs, but need for services is as high as ever

The Alaska State Capitol was featured in a photo showing snowfall on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. The state has been dealing with a major funding decrease for its domestic violence response, leaving a multimillion-dollar hole in the budget for services. The reduction in funding, along with the end of pandemic relief money and high rates of inflation, has left domestic violence advocates scrambling to adequately fund the groups that protect one of the state’s most vulnerable populations.

Alaska’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, responsible for managing state and federal funding for domestic violence programs and distributing them to communities, has been using “gap funding” from state and federal sources to fill the hole in the budget. However, the council will have spent all the COVID relief dollars received by the end of this year.

The issue has been years in the making. The Victims of Crime Act fund, a major source of federal funding for domestic violence programs, saw a significant decrease in funds over the years. In FY18, the state received nearly $8 million in VOCA funds, but in FY21, it got less than half of that — less than $3 million. This $5 million difference has significantly impacted the council’s budget, which was nearly $25 million last year.

Moreover, the loss of funding for domestic violence programs has been exacerbated by inflation, leading to a decrease in the buying power of funds received. Ultimately, the council is facing a significant financial hurdle amid the ongoing needs of domestic violence programs.

This article was produced as a project for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 Domestic Violence Impact Fund.

Finally, Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence and can be contacted via Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

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