For Immediate Release
[Ithaca, NY, October 22] The Advocacy Center of Tompkins County was awarded a $602,346 grant from the New York State Office of Victim Services to develop a new Civil Legal Services Program for victims of domestic and sexual violence. This 5-year grant will provide high quality, trauma informed legal representation for victims of abuse who have significant barriers accessing legal representation and consultation.
According to the New York State Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, 1.2 million New Yorkers had three or more civil legal problems in 2016 but only 37% of their legal needs were met. In 2010 over 90% of New York State residents went to court without legal counsel. The challenges for victims of abuse are even more pronounced, as victims are required to negotiate complicated systems during a time when they are traumatized and overwhelmed. These systems can include family court, housing court, employment, immigration issues, Title IX proceedings and financial or credit issues. Undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ survivors, or victims of sex trafficking often face even higher barriers accessing legal services.
Executive Director, Heather Campbell, said, “This grant will allow us to increase quality, trauma informed civil representation for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Legal representation is one of the most requested services from victims of domestic violence and we have struggled to meet these needs in our community. The new Civil Legal Services Program is an important step in making sure that all survivors of abuse are able to access the representation they deserve.”
The Advocacy Center will hire a full time Attorney who will represent victims of abuse and provide advice and consultation for staff advocates on legal issues. Dawn Kline, President of the Advocacy Center Board of Directors, said, “The agency has long identified the gaps in legal services in our county and the increased risks to safety for victims of abuse and their children that are the result of inadequate legal representation. We’re grateful that the Office of Victim Services recognized this need and, although this won’t address all the unmet needs in our community, this will greatly increase access to quality representation for victims of abuse.”
The Advocacy Center of Tompkins County provides comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse including: 24 hour hotline; confidential shelter; legal, medical and social services advocacy; support groups; therapy services; prevention education; and professional training. In 2017 the agency provided services for 1,497 youth and adult victims of abuse and education programs for 5,465 people in Tompkins County. For more information about the agency or the new attorney hiring visit www.theadvocacycenter.org. For support, 24 hours a day, call the Advocacy Center hotline at 607.277.5000.
Contact: Heather Campbell, Executive Director