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Texas Crime Victims' Fund Drying Up
Victims of crimes in Central Texas are at risk of not getting the help they need. A legislative criminal justice report says the state needs to evaluate the long term stability of the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund.
It suggests continuing funding victims-services organizations through other methods of finance.
When an innocent child is abused or neglected trained community volunteers step up to help them recover from their terrifying ordeal.
"It's sad that so many children needed us it's even more sad there were even more children we were unable to serve," says Laura Wolf with CASA of Travis County.
The number of youth needing help across the state has hit all-time highs, but the amount CASA has been able to serve has dropped despite an increase in volunteers.
The group is partially funded through the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund, but with those funds drying up who will speak up for these children?
The fund was set up in 1979 to help pay victims costs. While a portion of the fund goes towards victims immediate costs, remaining money goes towards grants for agencies that provide services to victims.
Through the years the amount paid out to victims has grown, while the money to help replenish the fund dwindles.
"If we don't have it, we lose a lot of the resources we can give to the agencies that are already struggling," says Rick Gipprich with the Texas Association against Sexual Assault.
TAASA was set up to be a voice for survivors, and receives grant money from the fund. According to the Texas Attorney General's Office, the amount of money appropriated by the legislature to support victim's service agencies directly influences the level of service groups can provide.
Setting a challenge to state leaders to fund victim's advocacy groups.
Texans made crime victim support a priority, but without funds for groups who help rebuild, the most vulnerable could be at risk. "Whether it be the children's advocacy centers or the rape crisis centers or CASA they need to be funded too because they are critical to the victims and the children in our state," says Sen. Joan Huffman (R) District 17. "I think that the legislature is going to have to step up."
In the budget bills recently filed the money to victims' services organizations has been maintained for the most part. The actual budget still has a long way to go, but victim services groups are hopeful.
By Adam Racusin