Ohioans who work day in and day out with some of the most vulnerable populations are struggling with major burnout, according to new data.
Program directors and staff in the Ohio Victim Services Compensation 2022 survey reported that they were not earning what they considered a living wage, and 45% of staff said their salaries did not cover their compensation needs. base.
Rosa Beltre, president and CEO of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, explained that these workers are the first responders for survivors of sexual violence and assault. She agreed that they are overworked and underpaid.
“We are on the ground of anti-oppression and anti-violence,” she said, “and the way we pay our staff, the way we remunerate our staff continues to fall into the cycles of oppressive methods”.
In the survey, 57% said they had to work more than one job to make ends meet, leading to fatigue and poor performance in their Victim Services jobs. Average victim services budgets have fallen by 16% between 2020 and 2022, meaning less funds available to pay employees.
Beltre said victim services workers are often expected to be knowledgeable in legal and medical defense as well as social work and psychology. She argued they deserved a compensation package that included a competitive salary, health care and retirement benefits, and reimbursement for personal expenses, from gas to education.
“They’re asked to come with a master’s degree in social work or be a sociologist,” she says, “and what they’re paid doesn’t cover their expenses, or the years it took them to get the degree. or experience.”
Most funding for victim service agencies comes from the federal Victims of Crime Act, which consists of fines and penalties paid by convicted offenders. Beltre said funding has dropped more than 70% in Ohio over the past few years.
“It’s rippled through programs, it’s rippled through services, and we’re not exempt from the exodus that every business or organization is experiencing,” she said. “We’ve been hit hard, and it’s not sustainable.”
The VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victim Funds Act of 2021 will provide more federal dollars to states. However, it will take time for the funds to be distributed.
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