Senator Murray Announces Relief Funding to Address Family Violence in Washington State

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, announced more than $870,000 in federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funding for Washington state as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The funding will be distributed by the Washington state Department of Social and Health Services to non-profit partners and/or public agencies to support emergency shelter needs and other assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children. An additional $80,000 of funding will be going to Tribes in Washington state to support similar services.

“This virus has had so many consequences, and during this unprecedented emergency the federal government has a responsibility to help ensure the health and safety of children and families,” Senator Murray said. “That’s why I fought to include this aid in the CARES Act and why I’m going to keep doing everything I can at the federal level to get more resources for our states, Tribes, and communities to address family violence.”

FVPSA is the primary way that Congress is able to distribute funding to address family violence to state and Tribal governments. Once distributed, the relief included in the CARES Act, totaling $45 million, can be used by non-profit organizations and public agencies to provide shelter, crisis counseling, legal advocacy, and other support services for family violence victims. These services have become increasingly important as family violence has become more common under stay at home orders; as one example, the Seattle Police Department has reported a 21% increase in domestic abuse calls from February to March. As many Washingtonians continue to remain at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there remains an increased risk of family violence.

“Services like emergency shelter and crisis counseling for families impacted by domestic violence are increasingly critical as the COVID-19 emergency intensifies stress of all kinds on vulnerable people across our state. This Family Violence Prevention and Services Act funding will help Washington protect those at risk for family violence as they navigate the unprecedented disruption we all face during the pandemic,” said Cheryl Strange, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

10% of the total FVPSA funding included in the CARES Act was distributed to Tribes and Tribal organizations across the country, with $80,378 going to Tribes in Washington state, including the Lummi Indian Nation, the Muckleshoot Tribe of Washington, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the South Puget Intertribal Agency, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. This funding can similarly be used for family violence relief services.

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray was instrumental in ensuring that FVPSA funding was included in the CARES Act and has long made addressing domestic and family violence a priority. In 2013, Senator Murray, a cosponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), helped lead efforts in Congress to reauthorize VAWA and expand protections and resources for more women in at-risk communities, including tribal women, LGBTQIA+ people, immigrants, and women on college campuses. Last year, Senator Murray introduced another VAWA reauthorization that would strengthen protections for women against domestic violence and sexual assault.