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The number of abuse cases in Yuma County have remained steady except for one notable difference, according to the latest statistics released by Amberly’s Place.
The family advocacy center reported a 12% increase in the number of child sexual abuse cases in May when compared to the same time last year, which Executive Director Tori Bourguignon described as a “significant rise.”
“While this trend is disturbing, it also means that these crimes are being reported and the victims and families are getting the help that they need to begin to heal from this type of abuse,” Bourguignon said.
Amberly’s Place provides services to primary and secondary victims of child abuse in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County. Secondary victims are those who witness and/or are directly impacted by the abuse of the primary victim.
In May, the center provided services to 252 primary and secondary victims. Of those, 28 were primary victims and 46 secondary victims of child sexual abuse and assault.
Bourguignon also shared good news regarding potential funding cuts that Amberly’s Place and victim service providers across the state and nation were facing. Due to COVID-19 pandemic-delayed court cases, fewer penalties have been deposited into the Victims of Crime Act fund, the largest funding source for Amberly’s Place. VOCA funds come from criminal fines, penalties, forfeited bail bonds and special assessments collected by the federal government.
This would have meant a 55% cut to the VOCA funding, which translated to a $225,000 shortfall for the upcoming year for the local advocacy center.
However, “thanks to our local legislators, especially Rep. Tim Dunn and Sen. Brian Fernandez, we were able to voice our concerns at the state level on behalf of VOCA grant recipients across Arizona,” Bourguignon said.
Consequently, Gov. Katie Hobbs announced that she had backfilled the 2023/24 federal cut to the Arizona VOCA grant using American Rescue Plan Act federal pandemic relief funds.
“This temporary solution allows us to maintain service provisions at the current level,” Bourguignon noted. “While this is a huge relief, we still have much work to do in order to stabilize the Victim of Crime Act funds on the federal level and to identify a sustainable Arizona solution to this issue. We will continue to work with both state and federal legislators to develop viable solutions while simultaneously working within our own community to ensure that we can continue to grow and enhance services locally.”
VOCA covers about 85% of the center’s crisis response victim advocate salaries and employee-related expenses, a portion of overhead and extended services such as victim therapy.
To talk to a crisis advocate, call the 24-hour helpline: 928-373-0849. For more information on spotting the signs of abuse, go to www.AmberlysPlace.com.