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Grant funding expands domestic violence resources in Arizona

PHOENIX (KVOA) - On Monday, The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) announced that it recently received a $500,000 grant to help further its mission.

"This funding will help fill a gap in services for in Arizona for the approximately 130 thousand individuals in Arizona with a developmental disability,” Jenna Panas, ACESDV CEO said. “While sexual assault services exist, the specific needs of those with developmental disabilities aren’t always met. With our partners and the provider community, we are delighted to be able to take concrete steps to help close this gap.”

According to 2018 data from the Department of Justice, people with cognitive disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities.

In 2019, the Governor’s Abuse and Neglect Prevention Task Force recommended that Arizona build and enhance community-based sexual assault services that utilize a trauma-informed approach and address the specific needs of vulnerable adults and their families, as well as a toolkit for providers outlining sample policies and best practices for a trauma-informed approach to survivors with disabilities.

“We are excited that our Arizona programs now have much-needed resources to meaningfully include survivors with developmental disabilities who are so often excluded,” Dr. Erica McFadden, Executive Director of Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council said. “This is just the beginning of desperately-needed change, with Arizona leading the way for other states to follow.”

For the project ACESDV, in collaboration with the 5 statewide disability advocacy organizations, will engage in an intensive development and planning process to identify and address the needs of sexual abuse survivors with developmental disabilities and victim service providers statewide. ACESDV said it will then provide training and technical assistance to victim service providers statewide to ensure sexual abuse survivors with developmental disabilities have access to comprehensive, accessible, and appropriate services in Arizona.

According to ACESDV, the training curriculum and toolkit that will assist victim service providers across Arizona will include:

  • Developing and enhancing services for sexual abuse survivors with developmental disabilities.
  • Developing and modifying policies, protocols, and procedures to ensure equal access to services and programs for sexual abuse survivors with development disabilities.
  • Meeting the requirements of shelters and victim service providers under federal anti-discrimination laws.

“Together, through this partnership, we can make a huge impact in the lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing victims/survivors by reducing barriers and access to services," Sherri Collins, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing said.

The grant came from the Office of Violence Against Women in partnership with the Arizona Center for Disability Law, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council, and The Arc of Arizona.

Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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