2015 VOCA Funding

On Sept. 19, 2014, the President signed a continuing resolution (CR) which keeps the Federal Government operating at the same level through December 11, 2014. As far as VOCA is concerned, the CR has no real effect since OVC needs to know the final, full-year funding level (Crime Victims Fund cap) before it can calculate and award VOCA grants. Congress will again consider FY 2015 funding when it returns after the November elections. If, as is very possible, Congress enacts a full-year CR, meaning the VOCA cap will remain at $745 million, then state VOCA victim assistance formula grants are likely to see a slight reduction compared to FY 2014 grants.

On May 8, 2014 the House Appropriations Committee approved the appropriations proposed by its Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee, which includes a $770 million VOCA cap and $25 million "within available resources" to implement OVC's Vision 21 initiative. The Committee again expressed its concern "about how management and administration costs are being applied to State Victims of Crime Act grants. The Committee directs the Department to bring administrative and management costs for these grants in line with costs associated with the management of similar Justice grant programs."

On June 5, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a $775 million cap on the Crime Victims Fund for FY 2015. The Senate also proposed appropriating $12.5 million from non-VOCA funds for OVC's Vision 21 initiative. Given the similarity between the House and Senate recommendations, it looks vey likely that the Crime Victms Fund cap will increase by $25 to $30 million over the FY 2014 cap of $745 million.

VOCA victim assistance funds desperately needed

An overwhelming number of victim service program say there is a critical need for additional VOCA victim assistance. More than 80 percent of the 2,358 respondents said they "desperately" or "definitely" need additional VOCA victim assistance funds. The survey was sponsored by NAVAA, the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV). Eighty-eight percent of respondents said that they would use more VOCA funds to simply sustain their current services while 86 percent said they would use the additional funds to offer service to more crime victims. Programs were also asked about their need for major, non-recurring uses of additional VOCA funds (even if not currently permitted under VOCA rules). Most responses fell into the following categories:

  • Technology (e.g. computer hardware, Ipads, tablets, etc) - 40 percent
  • Data/case management programs - 14 percent
  • Infrastructure (e.g. shelter, housing, renovations, repair) - 28 percent
  • Equipment, furniture - 7 percent
  • Research (e.g. strategic plans, needs assessment, evaluations) 10 percent
  • Transportation (e.g. vehicles, cars, vans, etc.) - 5 percent
  • Training - 6 percent

NNEDV 2013 Census

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence's (NNEDV) annual report, "Domestic Violence Counts 2013", a 24 hour census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services:

  • 66,581 domestic violence victims were served through shelter, transitional housing, and advocacy.
    • 36,348 victims (19,431 children and 16,917 adults) were provided with safe shelter.
    • 30,233 adults and children received non-residential assistance, such as counseling, legal advocacy and support groups.
  • 20,267 hotline calls were answered, averaging over 14 calls every minute. 
  • 23,389 individuals attended 1,413 community education sessions.

Unfortunately, 9,641 requests for services went unmet because of a lack of resources or staffing.  On the survey day, 27 percent reported they were unable to provide requested services because of reduced government funding and 12 percent because of cuts form private funders and 10 percent because of reduced individual donations. During the past year, 1,696 staff positions were eliminated, most of which were direct service providers, such as shelter staff and legal advocates.

From 2006 to 2013, the annual number of adults and children served through domestic violence programs have increased by 39 percent; however, the number of unmet requests for services have increased by 87 percent!  This shows that the capacity to provide these critical services has not kept pace with the needs.

For more information, including the full report with compelling quotes from advocates, state-by-state data summaries, and additional resources, go to  www.nnedv.org/census.

VOCA-funded assistance continues to decline

The latest data from the Office for Victims of Crime indicates a continuing decline in the ability of victim assistance providers receiving state VOCA victim assistance funds to provide critical services to crime victims. According to 2012 state reports, a total of 3,486,655 victims of all types of crime received VOCA-funded assistance in 2012. This was 630,000 fewer victims than assisted in 2007:

Victim Population 2007 2012 Difference
Child Physical Abuse 182,298 182,775 477 0.3%
Child Sexual Abuse 406,820 374,165 -32,655 -8.0%
DUI/DWI Crashes 85,326 61,424 -23,902 -28.0%
Domestic Violence 1,859,912 1,683,750 -176,162 -9.5%
Adult Sexual Assault 237,047 205,963 -31,084 -13.1%
Elder Abuse 69,782 37,274 -32,508 -46.6%
Adults Molested as Children 92,946 60,009 -32,937 -35.4%
Survivors of Homicide Victims 115,813 79,719 -36,094 -31.2%
Robbery 179,216 176,719 -2,497 -1.4%
Assault 313,847 300,526 -13,321 -4.2%
Other 573,641 324,331 -249,310 -43.5%
TOTAL 4,116,648 3,486,655 -629,993 -15.3%

Funding Cuts Jeopardize Services to Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

According to the Campaign for Funding to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, at least 106,020 fewer victims will receive critical assistance services because of the the 5 percent sequestration cut in federal funding (other than VOCA) for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Although 88 percent of state domestic violence coalitions reported an increase in demand for services, 69 percent said that domestic violence programs experienced funding decreases, according to a survey conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). The survey also found that in 2011, 80 percent of the coalitions said that some programs had to reduce staff due to funding shortages and more than 70 percent reduced services to victims. Since 2011, at least 19 domestic violence programs have been forced to close entirely.

Impact of Funding Cuts on Sexual Assault Servicesnewnaesv

A new 2013 survey by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) of rape crisis centers revealed that:

  • Nearly 75% of rape crisis centers lost funding in the past year resulting in layoffs, reduced services and program closures;
  • Over half have reduced staff by layoffs and leaving positions unfilled;
  • More than one-third have waiting lists for services, some for as long as two months;
  • 35% said that survivors are unable to receive the full range of needed services.

For state VOCA Assistance and crime victim compensation programs only...

The 2014 VOCA National Training Conference for state VOCA victim assistance and crime victim compensation program staff will be held August 19 - 21, 2014 at the Omni Parker Hotel in Boston, MA. Information, including conference registration and hotel room reservations, is available by clicking here.