The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was originally enacted in 1994. The Act was intended to change attitudes toward domestic violence, foster awareness of domestic violence, improve services and provisions for victims and revise the manner in which the criminal justice system responds to domestic violence and sex crimes. VAWA primarily addresses certain types of violent crime through grant programs to state, tribal and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and universities.
VAWA created grant programs for a range of activities, including programs aimed at addressing the needs of individuals in a special population group, such as children and youth. The Office on Violence Against Women administers most of these programs, but other federal agencies—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of Justice Programs—also manage VAWA programs. In Federal Fiscal Year 2019, $497.5 million was appropriated for VAWA programs administered by these three agencies.
Since it was enacted in 1994, VAWA has been reauthorized three times. Of note, the reauthorizations in 2000 and 2005 had broad bipartisan support, while the most recent reauthorization (in 2013) had bipartisan support but faced greater opposition.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have introduced the VAWA reauthorization legislation (HR 1585); it has already passed out of committee. The Senate should be introducing VAWA legislation shortly.
VAWA and the National CASA Association
Since 2005, the CASA program has been an authorized program in VAWA; it is primarily this authorization that enables National CASA to receive federal funding for our work, including pass-through dollars for state organizations and local programs. Prior to 2005, CASA was authorized to receive funding under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
CASA has been authorized at $12 million for 17 years, the last 11 of which were in VAWA. During that time, the organization has twice been funded at $15 million and was funded at the fully authorized level of $12 million in Federal Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019.
A reauthorization of the CASA program at $15 million would enable us to increase our capacity as we respond to the growing number of children coming into the child welfare system, and to complicating factors such as the opioid crisis and child sex trafficking.
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