|OCEAN TOWNSHIP— This past week, Senator Gopal called for a full restoration of funding for the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) in the FY2021 New Jersey state budget.
NJCASA is a statewide advocacy and capacity building organization that represents all county-based rape crisis centers and the Rutgers University Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance in New Brunswick. It’s mission is to promote the compassionate and just treatment of survivors and their loved ones; foster collaborative relationships between community systems; and affect changes in society as they work to prevent sexual violence.
“Every person deserves to feel safe in the state of New Jersey,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch). “If NJCASA receives a reduction in funding again, the results will be devastating. We know domestic and sexual violence has seen an all-time-high in the wake of this global pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to make sure these survivors feel safe and heard – and a loss in funds for programs providing that safe haven is completely unacceptable.”
In 2019, NJCASA providers served close to 20,000 New Jerseyans through 24-hour hotlines, coordinated community crisis responses, counseling services, court accompaniments, and outreach and services to marginalized communities. They have also reported that 43 percent of N.J.’s rape crisis centers have a waiting list for services 9 out of 12 months of the year, with wait times ranging anywhere from 1-3 weeks to 4-6 weeks, depending on the provider.
Gopal added, “We have seen that sexual violence programs in New Jersey continue to fill a critical need with limited resources, but they need help to keep up with the increase in requests for their services. We cannot allow minors and other survivors to be at home, isolated with their abusers, waiting weeks for a response. A full restoration of funding for NJCASA in the FY2021 New Jersey state budget will help provide the resources they need to help this vulnerable community.”