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Domestic violence agencies receive $270K to help with waitlists, tech needs
By Texas Council on Family Violence
Aug 6, 2022
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Texas Council on Family Violence funds 12 agencies' requests for 2022 Swalm Grants; Sees consistent challenge of waitlists for survivor needs

Austin, TX (July 21, 2022) – This month, The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) awarded $270,000 to 12 domestic violence agencies across Texas via the 2022 Swalm Grants, and 100% of the grants fulfilled the recipients’ total requested amounts. The grants – designed to fund operations not usually covered by government grants – will go towards a variety of needs, but TCFV noticed the most common ones revolved around updating technology for staff and managing long waitlists for survivor services such as childcare, counseling and transitional housing.

“It’s a privilege for TCFV to provide these grants from our Swalm Endowment Fund to help alleviate some of the budget pressure on local agencies which are often the unsung and overlooked heroes of our communities,” said Gloria Aguilera Terry, CEO of TCFV. “The work of these agencies and their staff saves lives daily, and it is clear from what TCFV received in our Swalm Grant applications that the need for their lifesaving work is great in Texas. TCFV expects these funds to help agencies acquire more resources and open more opportunities to serve survivors and their families because we have always, and will always, support agencies who prioritize the survivor’s needs.” 

One of the many agencies having to place survivors on a waitlist is Swalm Grant recipient Guadalupe Valley Family Violence Shelter. The agency reported the demand for counseling services at the end of 2022’s second quarter was nearly equal to the demand for services for the entirety of 2021. The shelter plans to use its Swalm Grant of more than $29,000 to help hire a full-time counselor to prioritize client access to critical mental health care. 

The Family Place in Dallas has waitlists for childcare at the shelter’s licensed and accredited Child Development Center and its after-school program. Family Support Services of Amarillo has a waiting list for its transitional housing program that helps survivors establish autonomy after they leave the shelter. But the list is so long they stopped adding people to it until additional funds can be secured.  

Several agencies, including Eastland County Crisis Center, Denton County Friends of the Family, Freedom House in Weatherford and Family Crisis Center Inc. in Harlingen, were awarded a Swalm Grant for dire tech needs ranging from computer upgrades to new security systems.  

As COVID forced almost all survivor services to be accessible digitally, agencies had to play catch up with technology and provide life-saving services like counseling and escape planning in a virtual format at the same time. Many agencies are just now getting a chance to breathe from COVID, and they are realizing the technology they have is outdated and inefficient for remote interactions with survivors. One agency even reported staff computers still use Windows 7. 

“The world evolved incredibly quickly with technology during the pandemic, and the domestic violence field realized we had to keep up if we wanted to reach survivors during lockdown, which was the most dangerous time for them. That transition to more virtual services opened more access points for survivors, but it also shone a light on the tech gaps for local agencies,” added Terry. 

A list of all 2022 Swalm Grant recipients reads:

  • Bastrop County Women’s Shelter; Bastrop, TX
  • Comal County Family Violence Shelter, Inc.; New Braunfels, TX
  • Denton County Friends of the Family; Denton, TX
  • Eastland County Crisis Center; Eastland, TX
  • Family Abuse Center; Waco, TX
  • Family Crisis Center, Inc.; Harlingen, TX
  • Freedom House; Weatherford, TX
  • Family Support Services of Amarillo; Amarillo, TX
  • Guadalupe Valley Family Violence Shelter; Seguin, TX
  • Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center; San Marcos, TX
  • Southwest Family Life Centers, Inc.; Hondo, TX
  • The Family Place; Dallas, TX

    Of the 12 Swalm Grants awarded, seven are intended for infrastructure projects including physical renovations and technology structure overhauls, two are dedicated to improving violence prevention services and three are purposed for flexible funding, which covers childcare costs, legal services, survivors’ (frequently forced) debt, evictions and rent. Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center in San Marcos – awarded a grant for flexible funding – said its shelter has been near or at capacity for over a year, and it plans to use the money to pay for hotel rooms to house clients when the shelter is full. 

Swalm grantees are selected annually in a competitive application process by at-large TCFV board members. To track the direct impact of Swalm Grants, TCFV requires every recipient to submit a report at the end of the grant cycle detailing its use and efficiency of the funds and its effect on the survivors they serve. 

About Swalm Grants

In 2005, the Swalm Family of Houston and New Ulm, Texas, gifted TCFV an endowment fund of $5,000,000 to benefit domestic violence service providers in Texas. Annually, the Finance Committee of the Board of TCFV determines a percentage to be distributed in Swalm Grants. That percentage is then allocated among the grant recipients – selected by TCFV’s Board – based on the needs described in their applications. 

In accordance with the Swalm family’s wishes, each grant given must be large enough to impact the community, and applicants must be organizations whose primary focus is serving victims of domestic violence. The grants are designed to fund categories of operations not usually covered by government grants. Agencies are not allowed to apply for Swalm Grants two consecutive years in a row.

About Texas Council on Family Violence

Texas Council on Family Violence is the only 501(c) 3 nonprofit coalition in Texas dedicated solely to creating safer communities and freedom from family violence. With a state-wide reach and direct local impact, TCFV, with the collective strength of more than 1300 members, shapes public policy, equips service providers, and initiates strategic prevention efforts. Visit us online at http://www.tcfv.org/