The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) announced that it recently received a $500,000 grant to help further its mission.
According to data from the Department of Justice (2018), people with cognitive disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities. In 2019, the Governor’s Abuse and Neglect Prevention Task Force recommended that Arizona build and enhance community-based sexual assault services that utilize a trauma-informed approach and address the specific needs of vulnerable adults and their families, as well as a toolkit for providers outlining sample policies and best practices for a trauma-informed approach to survivors with disabilities.
“This funding will help fill a gap in services for in Arizona for the approximately 130 thousand individuals in Arizona with a developmental disability,” says Jenna Panas, CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. “While sexual assault services exist, the specific needs of those with developmental disabilities aren’t always met. With our partners and the provider community, we are delighted to be able to take concrete steps to help close this gap.”
“We are excited that our Arizona programs now have much-needed resources to meaningfully include survivors with developmental disabilities who are so often excluded,” states Dr. Erika McFadden, Executive Director of Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, “This is just the beginning of desperately-needed change, with Arizona leading the way for other states to follow.”
In this project ACESDV, in collaboration with the 5 statewide disability advocacy organizations, will engage in an intensive development and planning process to identify and address the needs of sexual abuse survivors with developmental disabilities and victim service providers statewide. ACESDV will then provide training and technical assistance to victim service providers statewide to ensure sexual abuse survivors with developmental disabilities have access to comprehensive, accessible, and appropriate services in Arizona. The training curriculum and toolkit that will assist victim service providers across Arizona will include:
- developing and enhancing services for sexual abuse survivors with developmental disabilities;
- developing and modifying policies, protocols, and procedures to ensure equal access to services and programs for sexual abuse survivors with development disabilities; and
- meeting the requirements of shelters and victim service providers under Federal anti-discrimination laws.
“We are excited for the opportunity to be a part of this three-year initiative with ACESDV and the other disability groups,” says Sherri Collins, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, “Together, through this partnership, we can make a huge impact in the lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing victims/survivors by reducing barriers and access to services.”