CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Approximately $38 million in federal and state grants was awarded to South Carolina victims' services groups Monday afternoon.
Attorney General Alan Wilson said work has gone into getting the money for the grants, which will serve not only victims, but the community.
According to a press release from Wilson, the grants are distributed by the South Carolina Crime Victim Services Division, which was added to the Attorney General's Office by the state earlier this year.
There are three different types of grants included in the $38 million being distributed statewide. Those are Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) grants, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants and State Victim Assistance Program (SVAP) grants.
Horry and Georgetown counties are receiving $2.3 million of the $38 million. Two Georgetown County efforts are recipients, nine are in Horry County.
The money will fund many programs, including victim advocacy through law enforcement and solicitor's offices, evidence-based therapy, specialized domestic violence investigators, transition houses, and children's victim and legal services, as well as forensic nurses.
Vicki Bourus, the director of the Family Justice Center of Horry and Georgtown counties, said this money is needed badly in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.
South Carolina ranks fifth in a study of states with the most women killed by men, she said. Bourus explained how helping domestic violence victims now will improve the entire community in the future.
"They often grow up to repeat these patterns, either as victims or abusers, and if they don't do that, they can become involved in alcohol and drug activity, they run away from home. You can imagine why," she said. "They have difficulties in school, they have mental health problems, so often many folks who enter in our state prison system are children who are now grown up and victims of domestic violence."
Her center's Georgetown County location is receiving over $435,000 of the grant money. She said there is some of a match, but she's excited to expand the Family Justice Center's services. The funds will pay for more staff training, full-time positions and transportation for victims.
Bourus said her center is expecting to help around 1,000 women in the next year. Horry County, she added, desperately needs more domestic violence services, as the population continues to sky rocket.
One way Bourus plans for her center to provide more help to Horry County's victims is by building a shelter to the center's offices, a second location already in Horry County.
"That's what we're seeking now, is to get that stable funding source in place and the community is going to be very important," she said. "Community participation, because you don't want to open a shelter and then a year later have to close because you don't have adequate funds. So, we're going to be very careful about opening shelters, but it's definitely on the drawing board."
Bourus said there's still a long way to go to stop domestic violence. While happy the grant money has gone up since last year, she said advocacy groups continue to fight for batterer accountability, and better law enforcement and judicial training for domestic violence situations.
The grants take affect Sunday, Oct. 1.
The following groups are receiving grant money to improve and/or expand services in Georgetown and Horry counties:
- Georgetown County Sheriff's Office (Victim advocates): $103,860
- Family Justice Center of Georgetown and Horry Counties (Domestic violence services): $435,196
- Barnabas House Foundation (Alternative therapy for victims): $233,722
- Coastal Carolina University (Law enforcement victim advocate): $73, 242
- Children's Recovery Center (Children's services): $224, 141
- Horry County Sheriff's Office (Victim advocate): $52,127
- Rape Crisis Center (serving Horry and Georgetown counties, sexual assault services project): $376,648
- Rape Crisis Center (serving Horry and Georgetown counties, sexual assault services coordinator): $68,438
- Horry County Police Department (Victim advocate program): $169,272
- Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office (Victim Advocates): $477,489
- Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office (Interpersonal Violence Investigator): $78,486
The above information is provided by the Attorney General's office.