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Congressional bill would increase funding for domestic, sexual violence service agencies

Congressman John Katko Facebook
Randi Bregman, executive director of Vera House, at Rep. John Katko's office in Syracuse.

Bipartisan legislation, recently introduced in Congress, would increase funding for local domestic violence and sexual assault service agencies. Workers with those agencies said it would help keep the lights on, enhance certain services and reach underserved communities.  

Randi Bregman, executive director at Vera House in Syracuse, said in recent years, they have used this pot of funding for an advocate in child protective services.   

“When a child protective service worker goes out to a home where a child may have been victimized, but there’s also domestic violence going on, it allows the advocate and the child protective worker to work in tandem to provide safety, both for the adult in the family who’s victimized and to create the safety the child deserves," Bregman said. "This legislation is absolutely key and has been for decades in our work.”

In addition to emergency shelters, Bregman said the legislation also adds a focus on underserved populations, like refugee and immigrant communities, for outreach services and translators.

Overall, these are services that continue to be in demand. A worker with Cayuga Counseling Services said it’s eye opening how the number of sexual and domestic violence survivors seeking help continues to increase.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is a cosponsor of the legislation. There is bipartisan support in the Senate. Katko also urged the Senate to pass the Violence Against Women Act, which has been stalled there. It is another funding source for these agencies, which passed the House earlier this year.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.