CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County is applying for federal grant funding to help combat sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking.
On Tuesday the commissioners approved for Lisa Kovalick, community development specialist, to apply for $492,125 through the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women (OVW).
According to OVW, the grant program is authorized by the “Violence Against Women” Act. It recognizes victims in rural communities are facing barriers with receiving assistance.
Identified barriers include geographic isolation, transportation, economic structure, strong social and cultural pressures and lack of services in rural jurisdictions.
OVW finds these barriers “significantly compound” the problems confronted by those seeking support and services in order to end violence in their lives.”
According to OVW, these barriers also complicate the ability of the criminal justice system to investigate and prosecute sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking cases.
OVW also finds that socio-cultural, economic and geographic barriers also make it difficult for service providers to identify and assist victims of these crimes.
In Clearfield County, Kovalick said it’s “disheartening” to see the averages for the number of protection from abuse cases filed from 2007-2016, which have remained above average of the other sixth-class counties.
She said while caseloads reported have declined from 2015 to 2016, the severity of crimes against victims of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking has worsened in the county. She noted that the numbers for 2017 were not yet available.
According to Kovalick, the grant application is a collaborative effort between the county and the District Attorney’s Office, League on Social Services, Community Action, Crossroads and Passages.
Kovalick said if awarded, it would increase the safety of crime victims by:
- hiring a full-time investigator in the District Attorney’s Office. Their sole purpose would be to investigate sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking cases and to provide additional manpower to prosecute perpetrators.
- Helping provide financial assistance to victims for transportation and civil legal assistance through the League on Social Services;
- Increasing manpower and providing additional advocate time for domestic violence victims through Community Action and Crossroads; and
- Increasing manpower of victims’ advocates to assist victims of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking through Passages.