Lowey Announces $650,000 for Center for Safety and Change to Fund “Project Ascend”

September 17, 2020
Press Release

Federal Funds to Support Civil Legal Services, Representation for Victims of Domestic and Dating Violence, and Trainings

WHITE PLAINS, NY – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Center for Safety & Change, Incorporated, of New City, NY, has been awarded $650,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Justice for Families Program. This grant from the DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women will enable survivors of domestic and other abuse across the Lower Hudson Valley to seek representation, justice, and healing through a new project. The Center for Safety and Change will use these supplemental funds to provide civil legal services, victim advocacy, legal representation, intervention programs, and trainings for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

“As victims of abuse face increased threats during the pandemic, I am grateful for organizations like the Center for Change and Safety that provide resources, services, and other assistance to those seeking help,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “While the continued need for these programs is heartbreaking, we must continue to fund programs like the DOJ’s Justice for Families to ensure all victims know that they may heal and live safely without fear of violence.”

Elizabeth Santiago, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Safety and Change said, “On behalf of the Board, staff and the victims and survivors we serve, we are grateful for the continued support and commitment Congresswoman Nita Lowey has demonstrated throughout the years to help ensure that the work of Center for Safety & Change continues and that victims and survivors in Rockland County continue to receive victim centered services. The DOJ OVW Justice For Families three year grant in the amount of $650,000 will allow under this project, which we call Project Ascend: Assisting Victims Heal From Trauma and Regain Independence, the Center for Safety & Change, Inc. (“the Center”)—the lead agency on this project as well as the sole provider of services to victims of dating abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, trafficking, and all other crimes in Rockland County, NY—will partner with the Integrated Domestic Violence (“IDV”) and Family Courts, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County (“BBBS”) to enhance the ability of the local legal system to facilitate safety and stability for families living in violence, and to promote meaningful accountability.”

Project Ascend will address the obstacles victims of domestic violence and non-offending parents face in IDV and Family Courts, including securing permanent protection orders, obtaining custody of their children, and receiving visitation conditions that are safe for the victim and the children. The risks to the physical and psychological safety of victims and their children are compounded by lack of monitoring of and sanctions against abusers when they fail to appear at court hearings, fail to comply with interim orders, violate custody, visitation and protective orders, and file bad faith cross petitions or modification petitions following the conclusion of the case. The Center, BBBS and the judge who presides over IDV and Family Courts are committed to addressing these problems through staffing, training, and a coordinated response. The project goal is to improve outcomes for victims of domestic violence and their children in IDV and Family Court, and for the Family Court system to be a tool for stabilizing families.

Lowey is a long-time champion of the Violence Against Women Act and of robust funding to support federal efforts to end domestic violence. In July, as Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Lowey led the House in the passage of a fiscal year 2021 spending package that includes $223 million for grants to combat violence against women for DOJ.