For Immediate Release
Jenna Panas, CEO
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
THE ARIZONA COALITION TO END SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FIVE DISABILITY ADVOCACY PARTNERS AWARDED GRANT FROM THE OFFICE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN TO ENHANCE EDUCATION AND SERVICES FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
September 14, 2020— Phoenix, AZ – The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) recently received a $500,000 grant from the Office of Violence Against Women in partnership with the Arizona Center for Disability Law, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council, and The Arc of Arizona.
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.”
“ACDL is pleased to be a part of this important grant to help end sexual violence against people with disabilities,” said J.J. Rico, CEO of AZ Center for Disability Law, “It is in our mission to protect the rights of people with disabilities and our partnership with the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence will help further ensure equal access to services are guaranteed under the law.”
About the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) works to dismantle oppression and promote equity among all people, focusing on increasing public awareness about sexual and domestic violence and enhancing safety and services for survivors. ACESDV was originally founded as the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1980, so that concerned citizens and professionals could unite in a statewide organization to end domestic violence. In 2013, the coalition became the designated dual coalition to address both sexual and domestic violence in Arizona, thus becoming the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. ACESDV provides training and technical assistance to responders, service providers, and community members, engages in public policy advocacy and public awareness initiatives, and provides direct services through their Sexual and Domestic Violence Services Helpline and online chat.
About the Arizona Center for Disability Law
The Arizona Center for Disability Law (Center) is a non-profit law firm that assists Arizonans with disabilities to promote and protect their legal rights to independence, justice, and equality. The Arizona Center for Disability Law serves all people with disabilities. The Center supports individuals with disabilities by providing information on their legal rights, representation in negotiations or in administrative proceedings and court, and investigating abuse and neglect. In addition, the Center provides outreach and training on legal rights and self-advocacy as well as technical assistance to groups and individuals on disability-related legal issues. Finally, the Center brings impact litigation to remedy systematic problems.
About the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Established in 1977, The Arizona Commission for Deaf and Hard and Hearing (Commission) ensures, in partnership with the public and private sector, accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to improve their quality of life. The Commission administers a free statewide 24-hour telephone relay service as well as telephone equipment to qualified hearing, Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and speech-impaired Arizona residents. The Commission provides the American Sign Language Interpreter Licensure for the state, engages in community development initiatives, and informs Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals about their rights and the laws and programs available to support their rights.
About the AZ Developmental Disabilities Planning Council
The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC) is the designated entity as outlined in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 that focuses on advocacy, inclusion, and improving access and services for people with developmental disabilities. ADDPC collects data by identifying local developmental disability challenges and solutions and provides grants to fund innovative projects, such as efforts to help Arizonans speak up for themselves or push for community inclusion. In addition, ADDPC works with public and private sectors to address issues that are important to people with developmental disabilities and provides education through events, resources, and social media on ways to include all people who have developmental disabilities in every aspect of community life. ADDPC works to establish, strengthen, and expand self-advocacy activities among people with developmental disabilities so they will become empowered and self-determined.
About the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council
The Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council (AZSILC) is federally mandated and funded under the Rehabilitation Act and is comprised of individuals appointed by the Governor. AZSILC conducts statewide needs assessments in regard to people who have disabilities, monitors, implements, and evaluates the triennial State Plan for Independent Living, facilitates community outreach, independent living forums, panels and workshops, collaborates in coordinating disability focused conferences, expositions, and summits, and advocates for systemic changes that enhance and/or expand independent living programs and services.
About the Arc of Arizona
The Arc of Arizona, which was formed in 1958, is the only community-based non-profit working for people with I/DD throughout their lifetimes and across all diagnoses in Arizona. Currently, they have over 1,000 members with 11 local chapters. They engage in public policy by mobilizing self-advocates, disability organizations, and individuals across Arizona who care about the rights of all people with disabilities, utilizing grassroots action to effect substantial and meaningful progress in the legislative landscape.