Coalitions vary in their structure and their relationships with the rape crisis centers in their states. While some coalitions serve purely as membership and technical assistance associations, others manage and disperse funding to the rape crisis programs. The coalitions who manage and distribute funds are called pass-through agencies, or agencies while still nonprofits who pass government funding to direct service programs.
Deciding to become a pass-through agency is a significant change for a coalition. The Sexual Assault Services Program, authorized under the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, creates the first designated funding stream for sexual assault services across the country. With this funding comes the potential for coalitions who have not previously become pass-through agencies to examine that possibility more closely.
Why become a pass-through?
Coalitions might consider becoming pass-through agencies for a number of reasons. First of all, coalitions may want to be in a position to directly influence the roll-out and implementation of SASP funds in their states.
Coalitions are dedicated specifically to building the statewide response to victims across and are well-equipped to ensure that SASP funds are utilized in accordance with victims needs. Coalitions have data that shows where the unmet needs are, where victims are receiving services, what services are in demand and are in a position to increase each states response to victims of all forms of sexual violence. SASP is intended to be used to improved states response to victims of SA and the coalitions are in the unique position of being able to ensure that the funding is used wisely, responsibly, and in tune with the needs of sexual assault victims in the state.
Additionally, coalitions might consider becoming pass-through agencies in order to meet the changing needs of sexual assault service providers. As coalitions strive to improve practices of their member programs through technical assistance and training, too often those strides in practice grow apart from funding priorities in some states where the coalition does not pass-through funds. In states where the coalition is both responsible for training centers and for distributing funding, the priorities in service development can be aligned in efforts to best serve victims. Service providers would no longer have to negotiate two sets of priorities but would instead be able to respond to one agency regarding both practices and funding.
Lastly, coalitions might decide to serve as pass through agencies to ensure that services are available to any victim of sexual violence. Work can be done at a state level to support and/or develop new, promising and best practices for a myriad of marginalized and under-served people. A smaller center may have only a dozen victims/survivors who work as migrant labor; this would not justify the development of targeted resources and programs for this limited need. Yet on a statewide level, the number of victims who work as migrant labor is sufficiently high to justify developing a plan and tools for specialized services to this population. By acting as pass through agencies, coalitions can ensure that resources are targeted for such a focused effort.
Coalitions have been recognized at the federal level as eligible for funding under the STOP program, meaning they are able to receive funding. Congress addressed the services of the coalitions to a network of rape crisis programs by providing technical assistance monies through this program.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and many other coalitions who serve as pass-through agencies have put together Contractors Manuals, which outline the policies and procedures regarding service provision, funding distribution, and reporting that support the good stewardship of funding and excellence in service provision by the centers. These coalitions monitor the network of centers for service provision, reporting and accountability. These contractor resources are available as sample materials to coalitions who are working to build their capacity to serve as pass-through agencies.
A final word about coalitions
In analyzing the missions and services provided by the coalitions nationwide, the following commonalities can be observed:
- Coalitions and their networks work to eliminate sexual violence; that is the ultimate goal.
- Coalitions provide technical assistance on a wide variety of issues such as public policy, prevention, organizational development and service delivery.
- Coalitions provide training opportunities on a wide array of topics including innovative and promising practices in service provision.
- Coalitions develop and disseminate materials to respond to a diverse community and engage in train the trainer programs to develop information and practices.
- Coalitions provide assurance to governmental sources, whether it be professional staff at the Department level or elected officials, that the funding is being spent in a way that is both effective and efficient.
- Coalitions have a social change perspective and knowledge of the history of the anti-sexual violence movement that serves as the foundation for ensuring that both services and message are true to the intent of the movement.
- Coalitions can define what is seen as current best practice and work to ensure that all service provision rises to that level.
In short, coalitions acting as a pass through have the wherewithal to ensure that local centers have the resources necessary to do the work of both serving victims and effecting the social change needed to end violence against women in their home communities.