Zonta International is a global organization of women and men dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center is a tool for our members in the United States and other individuals who share our commitment to gender equality to take action to improve the lives of women and girls. With your help, we can make a difference. In addition to the actions below, click here to support our joint efforts with UNICEF USA to end child marriage in the United States.
FVSPA—the only federal funding source dedicated to providing support to domestic violence shelters and programs—was first passed in 1984 and most recently reauthorized in 2010. Its authorization expired in 2015. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021 (S.1275 and H.R.2119) will reauthorize and expand funding for programs focused on protecting survivors and preventing family and domestic violence.
Specifically, the bipartisan bill will expand resources for survivors and initiatives to end domestic violence by:
- Increasing the funding authorization level to $253 million to respond to very low per-program funding levels and provide access to FVPSA funds for programs not currently funded.
- Expanding support for and access to 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 protection 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 grant program for underserved populations.
- 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 to provide uniform guidance to those working to end domestic violence.
- Streamlines the multiple terms of domestic violence, dating violence and family violence, which have evolved, to reflect our common understanding of what constitutes domestic violence and better outlines those who are eligible for FVPSA-supported services.
- Updates language to reflect current practices and provide a reference to other statutes to ensure common understanding across different federal programs.
In March 2021, Representative Lucy McBath [D-GA] reintroduced the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act (H.R.2119) in the House of Representatives and Senators Lisa Murkowski [R-AK] and Bob Casey [D-PA] introduced a corresponding bill, S.1275, in the Senate in April. Please use our pre-drafted letters to urge your senators and representative to co-sponsor and support H.R.2119 and S.1275. If they have already sponsored or co-sponsored the bill, you can send a message of thanks.