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 helps an average of 3.7 million victims of all types of crime every year. 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 ($2.641 billion for FY2020 and $2.015 billion for FY2021), with the intent to maintain the Fund as a stable source of support for future services for victims.
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 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 Fix Act
In 2021 the President signed the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act (VOCA Fix Act) into law. The VOCA Fix Act supports vital victim service programs by taking steps to shore up the funding for federal victim service grants. It does this by directing federal criminal settlements from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements, currently deposited into the General Treasury, into the Fund. This change could add $4 to $7 billion to the Fund over the next few years, stabilizing not only VOCA-funded programs, but the other justice assistance grant programs that rely on the Fund to support the entire DOJ appropriations bill. The Act also increases the percentage that state compensation programs may be reimbursed from 60 to 75 percent. Further, under the Act, the U.S. Attorney General may issue no-cost extensions on VOCA awards. Additionally, states may waive the local match for VOCA assistance grants for the duration of the pandemic. Finally, the Act provides additional flexibility for compensation programs to provide support for victims even if they do not interact with law enforcement prior to requesting assistance.
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 CASA/GAL 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. Once a source of funding for only a few dozen CASA/GAL programs across the country, VOCA has become one of the most significant funding sources for CASA/GAL programs today. In 2020, over 500 state and local CASA/GAL programs in 40 states received a total of over $83M in VOCA funding, including more than 10 states in which CASA/GAL organizations receive more than $1 million in funding.
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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 level of funding and cap of the Crime Victims Fund return to its FY19 level of $3.35 billion.
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