The Crime Victims Fund (the Fund) was established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984 and is administered by the Office for Victims of Crime. The Fund is financed by the collection of federal crime fines, forfeitures and special assessments rather than taxpayer dollars.
Starting in 2000, in response to large fluctuations in these sources of funding, Congress placed an annual cap on funds available for distribution, with the intent to maintain the Fund as a stable source of support for future services for victims.
The Fund helps an average of 3.7 million victims of all types of crime every year. The Fund is used to fund crime victim assistance grants in every state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. States, in turn, provide subgrants to community-based organizations and public agencies that provide services directly to victims. While there are federal guidelines on the parameters for spending these VOCA dollars, states also exercise significant discretion in spending them.
In Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, funding for state victim assistance grants totaled $3.353 billion in distribution from the Fund (including a 5 percent set-aside for tribes). The president’s FY20 budget proposal would set the cap on the Fund at $2.3 billion and the House passed a cap of $2.84 billion. The Senate recently passed a cap of $3.17 billion for the CVF. The House and Senate need to reconcile the two bills.
While states have wide discretion and make their own determinations on how and to whom they supply VOCA funding, the Department of Justice developed federal guidelines on the parameters for spending VOCA dollars including, “the use of direct service funds to support training and coordination of volunteer services in such circumstances is appropriate, as it typically allows funded organizations to cost-effectively leverage the available funds and volunteer efforts to provide more direct services for victims.”
VOCA Funding for CASA/GAL Programs
State and local CASA/GAL programs are eligible to receive VOCA funding through state victim assistance grants. The use of direct service funds to support the recruitment, screening, training and supervision of CASA/GAL volunteers enables programs to provide more direct services for victims of child abuse. In some states, the state CASA/GAL organization also receives funding to support state-level services such as training, program development, data collection and administration.
VOCA state victim assistance grants are an important source of funding for the CASA/GAL network. For our programs to continue their important work with children who have experienced abuse or neglect, it is vital that:
- the structure of the Crime Victims Fund, and its current level of funding and annual cap, are maintained; and
- the number of state and local CASA/GAL programs that receive VOCA funds, and the amount of funding they receive, rise in response to the growing number of children in need of the services we provide.
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