PORTLAND -- Cumberland County Government announced on Monday that the United States Department of Justice has awarded the County $447,624 to fund a coordinated response to domestic and sexual violence for the next three years through the long-running Violence Intervention Partnership (VIP).
“We are pleased to earn continued support for this vital programming that provides advocacy services for high-risk and underserved victims of domestic and sexual abuse, holds offenders accountable, and promotes a coordinated community response,” said Faye Luppi, VIP Program Director.
Since 1998, the Cumberland County Violence Intervention Partnership has coordinated the efforts of local government, law enforcement, and nonprofit agency partners to respond to domestic violence across the County. The program funds staff at Cumberland County and some partner agencies to carry out its work, and has created permanent open lines of communication and shared protocols to improve response and prevention.
The program first received federal funds in 1997, and over the past twenty years has earned national recognition multiple times for its thorough and expansive service model; including the innovative High-Risk Response Team, comprehensive risk assessment tools, Incarcerated Victims Project, and Abuse in Later Life Model. Luppi is a regular national speaker on the program and on domestic violence issues.
Luppi said that VIP’s success stems from a broad range of State and regional partners including Through These Doors, Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, Maine Pretrial Services, the Maine Department of Corrections, the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office, Immigrant Resource Center of Maine, District II Police Chiefs, and the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, Regional Communications Center and Jail. Other partners from agencies such as Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Catholic Charities Maine, Maine Health, Bail Commissioners, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office also sit on the project Advisory Board.
In addition to maintaining current programming, the 2018 award will add new VIP services including support for transitional housing and other individualized needs for victims in transition; new support for victims later in life; and enhanced collaboration with Sexual Assault Services of Southern Maine, which will provide assault advocacy services to the Latino Community and systems coordination and advocacy for trafficking victims.
“These new services will help high-risk victims transition to safer locations, and enhance our ability to support survivors of sexual assault and trafficking,” Luppi said.
Cumberland County Government’s next steps will be to work through all of the compliance requirements that come with accepting a federal grant of such magnitude. The funds will be in place ahead of the next program year, guaranteeing that there will not be a gap in resources and giving VIP time to plan for the new service offerings.