South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that groups that help crime victims across South Carolina will soon be getting more than $31 million in federal and state grants. The S.C. Public Safety Coordinating Council formally approved the grants earlier this year and the projects begin October 1, 2023.
The grants are distributed by the Department of Crime Victim Assistance Grants in the Attorney General’s Office. There are four different types of grants: Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants; Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants; State Victim Assistance Program (SVAP) grants; and Supplemental Allocation for Victims Services (SAVS) grants, which is a new program created with $10 million in one-time funding from the state legislature and is intended bolster the efforts of VOCA.
“These state and local agencies and non-profit groups do so much to help people who are going through traumatic circumstances. With these funds we are able to support agencies throughout the state as they assist victims of violent crime in their recovery,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said.
The grants are being awarded to private non-profit organizations, sheriff’s offices, police departments, solicitor’s offices, and state agencies. For example, Hopeful Horizons, based in Beaufort County, is receiving one VOCA grant and one VAWA grant for over $1 million to support children’s advocacy services and an array of services for adult survivors of sexual assault. Safe Harbor is receiving one VOCA grant and one VAWA grant totaling over $949,427 to provide wraparound services, including emergency shelter and legal assistance, to domestic violence survivors in Anderson, Greenville, Pickens, and Oconee Counties. CASA/Family Systems, serving Orangeburg, Bamberg, and Calhoun counties, is receiving two VOCA awards totaling $179,262 to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence including a 24-hour hotline, advocacy, and counseling.
“The grant staff of the Crime Victim Services Division in the Attorney General’s Office is honored to work with the hundreds of caring, dedicated professionals who help victims of crime every day in South Carolina”, said Barbara Jean “BJ” Nelson, Director of the Division. “Our goal is to have the most effective, and the most compassionate, victim service system across the United States.
Approximately 78 percent of the money comes from federal grants, with the remaining portion from state funds. Both VOCA and VAWA are administered by the US Department of Justice. VOCA uses non-taxpayer money from the Federal Crime Victims Fund. VAWA is appropriated by Congress. It is important to note that VOCA funds come from federal fines and penalties, not from taxpayers, and it does not add to the national debt or deficit in any way.