The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday announced nearly $50 million in grants for assault survivors to obtain legal services.
The department’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) will distribute the money to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking to help cover legal fees and “improve effective coordination of justice systems impacting victim and family safety.”
“These grants will help expand access to the services and support that are essential to bringing justice within reach for survivors of gender-based violence,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement with the announcement.
“The Department’s Office on Violence Against Women will continue its important work to empower survivors with the resources they need to navigate our justice system, including by expanding access to legal representation, language assistance, and court-related programs.”
The $49.85 million in grants is divided by the OVW between the Legal Assistance for Victims Program, which was awarded $35.7 million, and the Justice for Families Program, awarded $14.2 million.
The Legal Assistance for Victims program encompasses 59 grantees that directly aid survivors with pro bono legal services.
“Legal services and systems, including family courts, have a tremendous impact on survivors’ and their families’ livelihood, wellbeing, and freedom,” OVW Acting Director Allison Randall said of the grant announcement.
She added: “Grantees under OVW’s Legal Assistance for Victims and Justice for Families Programs help survivors navigate complicated processes and potentially dangerous points along the way, including supervised visitation, protection orders, and divorce.”
The Justice for Families Program consists of 26 projects focused on bolstering justice system responses to families with a history of domestic violence and supporting “supervised visitation and safe exchange of children.”
Funds are also given to court-related programs and training programs for relevant officials, including court personnel and child protective services workers.
The DOJ announced an additional $35.7 million in grants through the OVW last week, which will be awarded to all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia to fund direct intervention services for sexual assault.
The department announced its new grants shortly after the conclusion of the National Sexual Assault Conference, an annual meeting on sexual assault prevention that occurred last week.
Source: The Hill