Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced that New York state is distributing nearly $24 million in federal funding to domestic violence programs and shelters, sexual assault programs and rape crisis centers across the state.

According to Leah Feldman, chief program officer at Family Services in Dutchess County, the grant will help domestic violence and rape crisis programs expand on-site COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, offset fiscal challenges caused by the pandemic, help reach underserved communities and support the recent uptick in survivors seeking help.

The funding comes via the Family Violence Prevention Services Act in the federal American Rescue Plan. It is being administered by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services.

Feldman calls the funding a critical relief to programs that have been underfunded since the pandemic.

“In the early days of the lockdown, we noted a decrease in reported domestic violence incidents. Not that we don’t believe it was happening, but there was far less access to support or the ability to report,” Feldman said. “If anything, what we did see was an increase in the severity and complexities of reported cases of domestic violence.”

Feldman told Capital Tonight this was due to a number of reasons, including stay-at-home orders and isolation.