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State grants to help crime victims

BY ANDREA MOORE amoore@paducahsun.com

Local programs that serve victims of crime are getting an opportunity to apply for renewed funding through the state Victims of Crime Act.

"This funding is a gold standard in terms of having the necessary funds to acknowledge and to respond to victims of crime," said Mary Foley, executive director of the Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center in Paducah.

Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown announced Thursday that grants were available for programs that offer direct services to victims of violent crime.

Public agencies, nonprofit programs such as domestic violence shelters, child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers, prosecutorial intervention programs and other programs that provide direct services to victims of violent crime are all eligible to apply.

According to Foley, Merryman House relies on VOCA funding throughout the year to fund court advocates and in-shelter adult advocates.

"These dollars allow us to go to emergency protective hearings and domestic violence hearings in support of victims," said Foley.  "Agencies like ours would not be able to operate at the same standard without these dollars."

Other local programs also rely on VOCA funds to operate efficiently. 

"We use the VOCA funding specifically for mental health counseling for victims of child abuse and neglect,"  Purchase Area Director of Child Watch Lee Emmons said.

According to Emmons, VOCA funds cover approximately 70 percent of the cost of running the agency's mental health counseling program, and the other 30 percent is raised locally.

"VOCA funds are crucial in order for crime victims, in our case children who have been abused or neglected,  to receive healing services," Emmons said.  "Mental health counseling helps the child today and impacts the adult that child will be tomorrow, which of course impacts our community."

Applications for funding under VOCA are due by June 16.  Awards will be announced in September.

Contact Andrea Moore, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8684.

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