The Crime Victims 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 Crime Victims 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 Crime Victims 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 2019, funding for state victim assistance grants totaled $3.353 billion in distribution from the Crime Victims Fund (including a 5 percent set-aside for tribes). Although details have not yet been released, the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request seeks a reform of the Fund by replacing the annual cap on Fund obligations with a mandatory, annual $2.3 billion appropriation, which would include full funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The president’s budget is the first step in the appropriations cycle and typically changes by the time the funding package is passed.
While federal guidelines exist from the Department of Justice on the parameters for spending VOCA dollars, states have wide discretion and make their own determinations on how and to whom they supply the funding.
VOCA Funding for CASA/GAL Programs
State and local CASA 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 volunteers enables CASA 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 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 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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