VOCA victim assistance regulations
The Office for Victims of Crime has published proposed regulations governoring state VOCA victim assistance grants and projects funded by VOCA victim assistance funds. These regulations would replace guidelines in effect since 1997. A copy of the proposed regulations is available at regulations.gov. Comments on the proposed regulations can be submitted at regulations.gov through October 28.
The National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators has submitted its comments on the proposed regulations to OVC. These comments reflect input from state VOCA victim assistance administrators and others on many important issues that will affect state VOCA assistance grants and the ways in which local VOCA-funded programs will be able to assist victims of all types of crimes.
Crime Victims Fund
The current continuing resolution (CR) enacted by Congress to end the Federal government shutdown runs through January 15, 2014. Although the CR retains the 2013 VOCA cap of $730 million, DOJ needs to know the full-year funding level in order to calculat state formula grants. Therefore, it appears that once again the amount of 2014 state VOCA assistance grants will not be known for some time.
Prior to the shutdown and CR, the House Appropriations Committee had proposed increasing the VOCA cap from $730 million to $745 million while the Senate Appropriations Committee would set the cap at $765 million. The House proposal would allow OVC to use VOCA funds "within available resources," for Vision 21, while the Senate would appropriate $25 million from general tax revenues (not from the Crime Victims Fund) for Vision 21 programs. See the VOCA Funding page more details.
VOCA-funded assistance continues to decline
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:
|Child Physical Abuse||182,298||182,775||477||0.3%|
|Child Sexual Abuse||406,820||374,165||-32,655||-8.0%|
|Adult Sexual Assault||237,047||205,963||-31,084||-13.1%|
|Adults Molested as Children||92,946||60,009||-32,937||-35.4%|
|Survivors of Homicide Victims||115,813||79,719||-36,094||-31.2%|
Funding Cuts Jeopardize Services to Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual AssaultAccording 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.
- Impact of Sequestration Cuts
- Impact of Sequestration Cuts on DOJ grant programs
- Impact on HHS funding
Impact of Funding Cuts on Sexual Assault Services
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.
Impact of Federal Cuts for Criminal Justice ProgramsNational Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) recently reported on its survey of criminal justice practitioners and the possibility of sequestration. It’s major finding is that federal support for criminal justice programs through DOJ funding has decreased by 43 percent over the past two years. [Full Report] Although most responses to the survey were from law enforcement agencies, the survey also included victim assistance funding. Of the 564 respondents who answered this question, 151 checked “victim services” and 105 respondents said they had received a Victims of Crime Act grant in the past three years. Here is an item on the survey from The Crime Report:
Justice Erodes At Grass Roots As Federal Aid Wanes
Failure to resolve the looming budget crisis in Washington could devastate an already strained criminal justice system, suggests a new report from the National Criminal Justice Association and the Vera Institute of Justice. The report, based on a national survey of government and private organizations that got 714 responses, found that U.S. Department of Justice funding to criminal justice agencies and nonprofit service providers has dropped by 43 per cent in the last two years under the impact of the recession. The survey's sponsors don't contend that the survey is scientifically representative, but that it illustrates funding issues being experienced on a state and local level. About 14 per cent of the respondents said the amounts of their grants had been cut by more than half
The report, issued yesterday [10/11/12], also noted widespread fears among agencies and groups on the front lines of the justice system, including police, that cuts in federal domestic discretionary spending which would kick in if Congress fails to agree on a deficit reduction plan before the end of the year could virtually end federal justice funding by 2021. The survey made clear that federal funding for state and local anti-crime efforts is already "at a historically low level," the criminal justice association and Vera said. More than three-quarters of the agencies and providers reported their level of federal aid has been steadily declining. Many have reduced their workforces, blaming the cuts in part on the funding decline. Among the major programs involved are Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners, various federal juvenile delinquency prevention initiatives, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Cornerstone for Justice: Byrne JAG and its Impact on the Criminal Justice System. This report, issued by the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), is a primer on the criminal justice system as seen through the lens of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. It describes current innovations in the various segments of the criminal justice system and Byrne JAG's role in spurring those practices. Each section contains statistics and innovative program examples from the states.
NNEDV 2012 CensusThe National Network to End Domestic Violence is excited to share the results of the Domestic Violence Counts 2012, a 24 hour census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services. For the full 2012 report and state summaries please go to www.nnedv.org/census
IN JUST ONE DAY:
- Assisted 64,324 domestic violence victims were served through shelter, transitional housing, and advocacy.
- 35,323 victims were provided with safe shelter.
- 29,001 adults and children received non-residential assistance, such as counseling, legal advocacy and support groups.
- Answered 20,821 hotline calls, over 14 calls every minute.
- Trained 25,182 attendees at 1,162 community education sessions.
Unfortunately, 10,471 requests for services went unmet because of a lack of resources or staffing. On the survey day, 42 percent reported they were unable to provide requested services because of inadequate funding; 30 percent reported they did not have enought staff and 26 percent said no beds were available in their shelter or had money for a hotel stay
From 2006 to 2012, the annual number of adults and children served through domestic violence programs have increased by 34 percent; however, the number of unmet requests for services have increased by 103 percent -- more than doubled! This demonstrates 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.
For VOCA Assistance Administrators/Staff Only
Thanks to everyone who attended the 2013 VOCA National Training Conference at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel. Click here for copies of a selection ofPowerPoint presentations, handouts, and other resources from the Conference.