With so many factors impacting our local, state, and national economy, it can be difficult to marshal a states worth of energy on the implementation of the new Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP), which was authorized in the Violence Against Women Act of 2005.
However, it is critical that coalitions dont lose our momentum and opportunities in the preliminary stages of SASP implementation.
As a matter of background, Diane Moyer, Staff Attorney for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, explains the following about the Sexual Assault Services Program (as published in History and Analysis of the Sexual Assault Program):
The Sexual Assault Services Program, recognizing the diverse and complex
nature of the problem of sexual assault, provides targeted funding for
various organizations at multiple levels including state, territory, tribal,
community- based and coalition- based. The funding is dedicated to
providing services of sexual assault victims and training and technical
assistance for service providers. There is a discretionary grant program that
provides funding for culturally specific organizations and a set-aside for
State, territory and tribal sexual assault coalitions are recognized for the
important role that they play in providing a unified presence and voice for
local rape crisis programs. Ten percent of SASP funding is dedicated to
sexual assault coalitions. These coalitions play an important role in the
statewide application and implementation of rape crisis program funding.
As Moyer explains, SASP is intended to acknowledge the diverse and complex nature of sexual assault, and it creates dedicated federal funding for sexual assault services for the first time. To ensure the full development of SASP everywhere, we must work to underscore the importance of this significant step, and take advantage of it to help move our states commitment and service infrastructure forward.
SASP is a first step towards building more state and national infrastructure to respond to sexual violence, which will hopefully lead to additional infrastructure and growth. Beyond working to make sure the funding is used wisely in each state, we can continue to build momentum for increased services, even as we meet funding challenges every day.
Even in light of state funding challenges, the implementation of the SASP program is more than a money issue. It is the first emphasis the federal government has put on the issue of sexual assault, and as such we are responsible for shepherding that emphasis through our states as well.
Discussing SASP solely as a matter of finances relegates SASP to serving only as a funding stream. Of course the funding is of critical importance, but so is our opportunity to elevate the discussion and commitment to dedicated sexual assault services in each state.