Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994 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 created grant programs to enable state, tribal and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and universities to address certain types of violent crime. Some of these programs address 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 2021, Congress appropriated $513.5 million 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. The U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized VAWA in 2021 and the Senate expects to reauthorize the bill in 2022.
VAWA and the National CASA/GAL Association
Since 2005, VAWA has included funding authorization for the “CASA Program,” which enables the National Court Appointed Special Advocate / Guardian ad Litem Association for Children to receive federal funding for our work, including pass-through dollars for state organizations and local programs. Prior to 2005, the CASA Program was authorized to receive funding under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and the Victims of Child Abuse Act, but since those authorizations lapsed, National CASA/GAL receives most of its federal funding through the VAWA authorization.
Congress has authorized the CASA Program at $12 million since 2001. 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, 2019, and 2020. The 2021 Omnibus Budget appropriated $12.5 million in funding to National CASA/GAL.
We continue to advocate for a reauthorization of the National CASA/GAL program at an increased level of $15 million. This increase would enable us to increase organizational and network capacity to serve more children in need.
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