WEST CHESTER (December 10, 2020) – Important programs to prevent crime, support victims in recovery, and enhance training for law enforcement in Chester County will receive more than $1.8 million in state and federal grant support, state Senator-Elect Carolyn Comitta said today.
Comitta, who previously served as Mayor of the Borough of West Chester, overseeing the West Chester Police Department, said it is important that we continue to strongly support crime victims during the pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has seen an escalation in domestic abuse coupled with increased challenges to survivors in accessing resources and reporting, as well as escaping dangerous and abusive environments,” she said. “Now more than ever, we must ensure that victims of crime and abuse can access vital services to help them seek justice, find safety, and recover to live healthy, happy, and productive lives.”
Comitta also thanked the law enforcement personnel, staff, volunteers, and nonprofit organizations that continue to serve crime victims and survivors in Chester County.
Deb Ryan, Chester County District Attorney, said that funding will support important programs to enhance training and prevent violence against women and children.
“Chester County, like many other places across the nation and the world, is experiencing a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic. We know that child abuse cases are going unreported and hidden from view due to school closures and other pandemic-related factors,” she said. “We must and we will continue to strive to protect our children and families now and in the future.”
The grants, which were approved Thursday by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, fall into several categories.
The Crime Victims Center of Chester County will receive $698,379 in federal STOP Violence Against Women Grant program funds for the Rights and Services (RASA) and Victims of Juvenile Offenders (VOJO) project.
“We are so grateful for this funding that has continually supported our work on behalf of victims and their families in Chester County,” said Christine Zaccarelli, Esquire, CEO of The Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County, Inc. ”From the onset of the pandemic, victim advocates from our main office and those with offices in the Justice Center have continued to provide critical services to victims and their families including notification to victims of their rights, accompaniment to legal proceedings and support throughout the criminal justice system through our collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office and Chester County Juvenile Probation. As the pandemic continues, our focus will remain on providing counseling, advocacy, resources and education to our community.”
The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County will receive $55,014 in federal STOP Violence Against Women Grant program funds for providing rights and services programs to victims.
“On behalf of victim-survivors of abuse, the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (DVCCC) is extremely appreciative to receive funding to support the critical services for victims. Throughout the pandemic, DVCCC has continued providing services such as a hotline, emergency shelter, long-term housing, trauma-informed counseling for adults and children, legal advocacy and court representation, and public education and training,” said Dolly Wideman-Scott, CEO of the DVCCC. “The pandemic is a perfect storm for victims with stay-at-home orders complicating one’s ability to escape the abuse in their home.”
Chester County will receive:
- $107,132 in federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Relief from through the U.S. Department of Justice.
- $533,144 in state funding from the Improvement of Adult Probation Services Fund through the Pennsylvania County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee.
- $124,992 in federal funding for the STOP Violence Against Women Grant program through the Statewide Victims’ Services Advisory Committee (VSAC). STOP, which stands for Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors, aims to develop and strengthen effective responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
- $47,000 in state funding for a child advocacy assistant through the Pennsylvania Child Advocacy Center Advisory Committee (CACAC).
- $318,337 from the state endowment act funds through the Pennsylvania Child Advocacy Center Advisory Committee (CACAC). The endowment, established under Act 1 of 2013, is funded from the monetary penalty imposed on the Pennsylvania State University by the National Collegiate Athletic Conference to aid the victims of child sexual abuse in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.