Help us #FinishTheBridge

EFC needs your voice!

Like other survivor services providers in Massachusetts, we rely on federal dollars from VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) to fund some of our most vital programs. But this year, the Crime Victims Fund sits at a historic low, leading to a drastic decrease in the amount of funding awarded and leaving states to make up the difference.

The VOCA Bridge is a multi-year legislative fix proposed by the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance (MOVA). So far, the state legislature has funded $40 million of MOVA’s $60 million request; but without the remaining $20 million, organizations like EFC will still face devastating cuts to already strained budgets.

What does the VOCA Bridge mean for EFC?

Elizabeth Freeman Center relies on federal funding from VOCA to operate some of its most vital programs, including those that keep our clients safe and our services accessible.

  • SAFEPLAN sites specially trained and certified advocates in Northern, Central and Southern Berkshire district courts as well as Berkshire Probate and Family Court, to help survivors seeking protection orders. We provide survivors with safety tools like new locks and security cameras, emergency food and rent assistance, and safe shelter in cases of extreme danger.
  • The LGBTQ Access Project supports part-time, specially trained counselors in all three EFC offices to meet the specific needs of LGBTQ survivors, who historically have been overlooked by sexual and domestic violence programs. We maintain a close partnership with Berkshire Pride, and host an LGBTQ Action/Advisory group to connect with community leaders and activists.
  • The Rural Access Project addresses the unique challenges faced by survivors in rural communities. It makes it easier for clients across the county to reach us, by funding staffing in our North Adams and Great Barrington offices, increasing our bilingual service capacity in South County, and supporting economic and housing advocacy efforts in an area where places to live can be literally few and far between.

Each of these programs serves hundreds of survivors and their families each year, and the numbers continue to rise. But funding for SAFEPLAN has stayed flat for three years; the Victim and Survivor Services (VSS) Grant that supports our LGBTQ and Rural Access Projects has been level-funded for the past two. We are already stretched to our limit.

Without the Bridge, EFC could suffer a 30% reduction in our budget. That means crippling cuts in staffing, program availability, and material assistance for clients in need – losses we simply cannot afford to take.

But there is still hope. Governor Maura Healey has introduced a supplemental funding bill (H.4496) to the Legislature that includes the remaining $20 million investment to fully fund the VOCA Bridge. We need our supporters to speak out in support of the VOCA Bridge, by contacting your elected officials or spreading the word on social media.

How to tell lawmakers that we need the VOCA Bridge

Click here to find your legislators

(In Berkshire County, our legislators are Senator Paul Mark and Representatives John Barrett, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and Smitty Pignatelli.)

Make a phone call

Click here for a sample call script.

Send an email

Click here for an email template.

Post to social media

Right-click the image below to save it to your device and repost on your social media platform of choice, then copy and paste the suggest caption below – or write your own.

Suggested Caption

#VOCABridge is an initiative that aims to bridge the federal funding gap for victim service organizations. This funding is essential to mitigate the disastrous cuts that over 90 victim service programs in Massachusetts are facing. This issue matters to me because, [in 1-2 sentences explain why this issue matters to you, how VOCA-funded programs have impacted you or your community, or if you’re comfortable, share a piece of your story and/or identity as a survivor].

Governor Healey introduced a supplemental funding bill (H.4496) to the Legislature that includes the remaining $20M investment that would fully fund the #VOCABridge. Support the passage of H.4496 and its inclusion of  the VOCA Bridge to help ensure the sustainability of services for survivors. #FullyFundVOCABridge #mapoli  [tag legislators (Click here to find your legislators’ social media handles)] [tag @massmova]

More about the VOCA Bridge

VOCA Bridge 101- Learn About the VOCA Bridge and Why it is Important

VOCA Bridge Fact Sheet

How Does the State Budget Process Work?

What is a Governor’s Supplemental Budget?