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Gov. Parson creates new grant programs to combat crimes against children; Victim Center hopes for money for additional resources

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 8:16 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Governor Mike Parson announced $4 million in new grant opportunities to combat crimes against children and to provide additional funding to agencies that provide services to crime victims.

The Victim Center’s director of development, Shelly Drymon, says any additional funding would be used to hire more staff, allowing more crime victims to get the help they need.

“We provide counseling to children, to any person who’s been a victim of a crime so additional therapists would really be beneficial with that type of money,” Drymon says. “We could get more kids through the door so they could get the help they needed.”

Drymon says providing those resources to kids as soon as possible is crucial.

“Untreated trauma as people move through their lives causes depression, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, inability to be in the workplace, inability to have good interpersonal relationships,” Drymon says. “It just causes a whole host of problems.”

That’s why she’s excited about Governor Parson putting $4 million in grant programs to provide that addition support.

“The last two years have created hardships and strained resources across the nation, but the reported rise in crimes affecting children and the difficulties experienced by agencies that provide vital services to crime victims is most concerning,” Governor Parson said. “These new grant programs will allow us to better investigate and prosecute criminals who victimize children and support domestic violence service agencies and child advocacy centers who serve our most vulnerable citizens and help bring criminals to justice.”

A total of $2 million in grant opportunities is being made available to assist local law enforcement and prosecutors to combat crimes against children, which rose in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We would love to see that money really go toward getting the abusers and getting them to trial and getting justice for the victims,” Drymon says.

Crimes against children have climbed during the pandemic. Drymon says kids not being in school played a part in that.

“If they were being abused, they spent more time with their abuser and being probably less reported because teachers and school counselors and nurses did not have eyes on the kids,” Drymon says.

An additional $2 million in grant opportunities is being made available to support crime victim service agencies, which have reported increases in service referrals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re not getting away or getting relief from the abuser so we’ve got this silent epidemic brewing underneath this pandemic,” Drymon says.

Drymon says crimes against children doesn’t just impact that child.

“That creates a ripple effect throughout,” Drymon says. “It starts with the child, ripples out to the family, ripples out to mom and dad or the non offending parents life, work, school, in general, which then affects the community.”

The victim center has a 24 hour crisis line for anyone needing help. That number is 417-864-7233.

The two competitive grants will utilize funds previously allocated to Missouri from the federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program (CESF). The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance has approved the reallocation of CESF program funds to meet emergent needs that were not apparent when the CESF opportunity was originally made available. There is no local match required to access the funding. The grants will be administered by the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

The funding opportunity for the Crimes Against Children/Sex Crimes Grant is expected to open August 1. Projects may include hiring additional staff to investigate, prosecute, and detect crimes against children.

The funding opportunity for the Victims of Crime Grant is expected to open September 1. Projects may include providing resource assistance to domestic violence service agencies and child advocacy centers and aiding other entities serving victims from vulnerable populations adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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