The 2013 legislative season was very exciting for the RICADV, our six member agencies and SOAR.
Though the bill passed in the House, it did not pass in the Senate. We are hopeful that the Rhode Island General Assembly will pass the bill into law during the 2014 legislative session.
Though the RICADV did advocate strongly for the Domestic Violence Prevention Fund bill in 2013, our main focus was on addressing the funding cuts to the Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program.
After years of budget cuts to state services, the program, which serves over 8,000 victims annually, had endured a 70% decrease in funding by 2013 and was forced to close its offices on Mondays. This closure was the first time in the program's 25-year history that advocates were not available when court was in session. The RICADV led our member agencies, SOAR, allied organizations and community supporters in the effort to convince our legislators to restore funding.
It was an amazing victory when the Rhode Island legislature agreed to restore $100,000 to the program, a much-needed lifeline for domestic violence victims. Special thanks are due to Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Representative Elaine A. Coderre and Senator Maryellen Goodwin for their support.
Through our media advocacy for the Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program, we were able to help restore funding to vital services that save lives.
Our press event outside of the Garrahy Courthouse was well-attended by supporters, public officials, and survivors. Rhode Island's major news stations featured the issue, as did The Providence Journal with a top-fold cover story.
The RICADV created this graphic featuring a SOAR member standing in front of the Garrahy Courthouse to mobilize our supporters through a simple yet powerful message - don't let domestic violence victims stand alone.