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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Cole, McBath, Moore and Katko Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Domestic Violence

November 14, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Tom Cole (OK-04), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Gwen Moore (WI-04) and John Katko (NY-24) introduced the bipartisan Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act (FVPSA), H.R. 5041, the only federal funding source under the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated to providing domestic violence prevention services. H.R. 5041 will reauthorize and expand funding for programs focused on protecting survivors and preventing family and domestic violence. Among the provisions for survivors, this bill includes authorizations for emergency housing, counseling, and assistance for those in financial distress. FVPSA was first authorized in 1984 and has provided essential services for survivors and their children.

“All too often, survivors of domestic violence are without the means to leave their situations, or they are not even aware of the first steps they can take. It is critical that these individuals have the resources needed to find help in dangerous situations,” said Cole. “The Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act rightfully provides funds to local, state, tribal governments and territories to further resources and empower survivors. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation.”

“Domestic and family violence affects Americans across the country, and we must do all we can to keep children and families safe. This bill answers the call of state, local, and tribal leadership for more resources and increased funding as we work to end domestic violence.” McBath said. “I would like to thank my Republican and Democratic colleagues who have joined me to help prevent violence, protect families, and care for survivors of domestic abuse.”

“For 35 years, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act has been a reliable resource for survivors fleeing violent situations by providing life-saving help like emergency housing,” said Moore. “Equipping local communities with the right tools is a critical part of addressing our domestic violence epidemic. It’s why I am so proud to support this bipartisan legislation, which will expand upon these efforts.”

“As a former federal prosecutor, I believe we must provide protection and support for the millions of Americans who face domestic violence in our country each year,” said Katko. “Since it was first authorized in 1984, the bipartisan Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) has played a critical role in providing vital services to survivors of domestic violence and their children. By reauthorizing this important program, we will ensure local, state, and tribal governments are able to continue protection and support services, allowing survivors and their children to properly recover from violence and abuse by a partner.”

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act, H.R. 5041, expands resources for survivors and initiatives to end domestic violence by:

  • Increasing the funding authorization level to $252 million to respond to low funding levels and provide access to FVPSA funds for programs not currently funded.
  • Expanding support and access for culturally-specific programs.
    • Culturally-specific organizations are better equipped to address the complex, multi-layered challenges facing victims from racial and ethnic minority populations as they seek services and protections from abuse.
    • Culturally-specific programs often have challenges accessing FVPSA funding at the state and local levels due to the limited funding available and robust competition. This bill authorizes a new culturally-specific program to address these needs and incorporates related funding into the formula itself.
  • Strengthening the capacity of Indian Tribes to exercise their sovereign authority to more fully respond to domestic violence in their communities and authorizes funding for tribal coalitions and the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center.
  • Meaningfully investing in prevention. Brings evidence-informed, community-based prevention initiatives to more communities.
  • Strengthening and updating the National Domestic Violence Hotline and hotline services for underrepresented populations, including American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Deaf victims of domestic and dating violence.
  • Creating a new underserved populations grant program.
    • The lack of resources and severity of violence is often heightened for survivors living at the margins, such as those living in rural communities, individuals with disabilities, older adults, those identifying with faith-based communities, youth and others. These underserved populations are often reluctant to seek assistance, and when they do, they frequently look for services and support in their immediate communities. This bill creates a grant program for family centers, youth centers, senior centers, community-based organizations or vocational organizations to meet the needs of these survivors.
  • Continuing to support national technical assistance (TA) centers, including the Alaskan Native Tribal Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and their work to develop effective policy, practice, research and cross-system collaborations.
  • Updating provisions and definitions to ensure access to services for all survivors, better align with related programs and reflect evolving practices in order to provide uniform guidance to those working to end domestic violence.
    • Updates language to reflect current practices and provide a reference to other statutes to ensure common understanding across different federal programs.