Ho­gan an­nounces fund­ing for crime vic­tims

Vis­its, tours Cen­ter for Chil­dren in La Plata

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

Dur­ing his visit to South­ern Mary­land last week, Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) stopped by the Cen­ter for Chil­dren in La Plata to an­nounce more than $46 mil­lion in Vic­tims of Crime Act fund­ing statewide, more than $811,000 of which was awarded to or­ga­ni­za­tions in Charles County. This year’s feder- al fund­ing marks a huge in­crease in al­lo­ca­tion, which to­taled ap­proxi- mately $10 mil­lion statewide in 2015.

In Charles County, a to­tal of $811,271 is to be awarded over a two-year pe­riod. This will in­clude $176,365 to the Cen­ter for Chil­dren; $503,078 to the Cen­ter for Abused Per­sons; and $131,828 to Life­Styles of Mary­land Foun­da­tion, all of which will help bet­ter serve those who have been af­fected by crime.

“I want to be­gin by ac- knowl­edg­ing the vic­tim as­sis­tance pro­fes­sion­als, the ad­vo­cates and coun- selors, po­lice of­fi­cers, pros­e­cu­tors, foren­sic nurses, hot­line work­ers and train­ers, and the many oth­ers who are on the front lines each and ev­ery day on be­half of the cit­i­zens of a very grate­ful state,” Ho­gan said. “I want to thank you for the in­cred­i­bly self­less work that you do ever y day.”

“Here in Mary­land,” he con­tin­ued, “we are work- ing tire­lessly to en­sure that vic­tims have the right to in­for­ma­tion, the right to be present, the right to pro­vide in­put, the right to re­ceive resti­tu­tion, and per­haps most im­por­tant- ly, the ex­pec­ta­tion of be­ing treated with the dig- nity and re­spect that you de­serve.”

Cather­ine Mey­ers, ex- ec­u­tive direc­tor of Cen­ter for Chil­dren, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing a com­pre­hen­sive ar­ray of ser­vices to young vic­tims and their families, says this is the most fund­ing they have ever re­ceived through VoCA. It will al­low them to help those in need with­out hav­ing to charge for ser­vices.

“Th­ese funds al­low us not to have to fig­ure out how ser­vices get paid when a vic­tim or sur­vivor calls, or charge our clients who have al­ready been vic­tim­ized in so many ways,” she said, adding that of­ten times clients have min­i­mal re­sources due to their vic­tim­iza­tion.

“Years of re­search, such as the Ad­verse Child­hood Ex­pe­ri­ences study and prac­tice, has demon­strated that money spent on vic­tim as­sis­tance for chil­dren is money well spent,” Mey­ers con­tin­ued. “We know that with­out ser­vices, vic­tims of crime are far more likely to de­velop sub­stance abuse prob­lems, suf­fer from men­tal ill­ness, in­clud­ing de­pres­sion or PTSD, be­come un­der- or un­em­ployed and suf­fer higher health costs over their life­time, all borne out in the afore­men­tioned study.”

After the an­nounce­ment, Ho­gan and his staff had an op­por­tu­nity to tour the fa­cil­ity and learn more about the cen­ter.

“This was a per­fect op­por­tu­nity be­cause they do in­cred­i­ble work here and I wanted to see it for my­self and thank the peo­ple for the great work that they do ev­ery day,” Ho­gan told the Mary­land In- de­pen­dent. “... For a long time vic­tims didn’t have the rights that they do to­day. In Mary­land, we’ve made a lot of progress, and we’re con­tin­u­ing to do so. There are great peo­ple that are do­ing won­der­ful work help­ing vic­tims of crime.”

The gov­er­nor also not- ed he was able to fully fund ev­ery VoCA re­quest his of­fice re­ceived this year.

“We put in record amounts of money to help all those pro­grams we’re fund­ing, ev­ery sin­gle re­quest from ev­ery county in the state of Mary­land, which I think is prob­a­bly un­prece­dented,” he said. “We also pushed for the Jus­tice Rein­vest­ment Act which pro­vided a lot more ben­e­fits to the vic­tims of crime, and it’s im­por­tant to us.”

Some of the ben­e­fits of the Jus­tice Rein­vest­ment Act, Ho­gan noted, were bet­ter re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive ser­vices for in­mates to pre­pare them to re­turn to the com­mu­nity in or­der to re­duce re­cidi­vism, and pro­vi­sions that will help col­lect resti­tu­tion pay­ments from in­mates dur­ing their in­car­cer­a­tion.

STAFF PHOTO BY AN­DREW RICHARD­SON

Cather­ine Mey­ers, executive direc­tor of Cen­ter for Chil­dren, leads Gov. Larry Ho­gan on a tour through the La Plata fa­cil­ity.

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