The following information is from Daisy Pagan, Executive Director, National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators:
On October 19th, Members of Congress received a letter (see below, attached), urging Congress to take immediate action to prevent devastating cuts to federal funding for victim service programs through the Victims of Crime Act (“VOCA”), including programs serving victims and survivors of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, drunk driving, assault, homicide, and other crimes. The letter also urges Congress to increase federal support to help states compensate crime victims for costs such as medical bills, lost wages, and even funerals.
The situation is dire! As you have seen in your state, federal grants to victim services through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) decreased by 25% last year, and further drastic cuts are expected, because the non-taxpayer-funded pool of funding VOCA grants are pulled from is running dry. Congress can fix this by ensuring federal financial penalties from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements are treated the same way as penalties resulting from criminal convictions - that they go to serve and compensate crime victims.
State victim compensation funds are also facing financial challenges due to decreased revenue, and many are unable to provide adequate compensation to help survivors pay for medical bills, counseling, lost wages, and other costs. Congress can fix this by increasing the percentage of state victim compensation funds that the federal government matches through VOCA.
The aforementioned letter also asks Congress to do the following:
Require state VOCA Administrators to waive the 20% match requirement for victim service subgrantees for the pendency of the COVID-19 crisis and one additional year;
Allow state VOCA Administrators to waive subgrantee match requirements at their discretion after the aforementioned waiver expires and require state VOCA Administrators to develop and publish a policy and procedure for obtaining a waiver;
Allow states to request a one-year no-cost extension from the Attorney General, as allowed for other Department of Justice formula grant programs, to ensure states can thoughtfully and effectively distribute victim service grants without being penalized; and
Provide flexibility for state compensation programs to waive the requirement to promote victim cooperation with law enforcement if good cause is established by the program.
We need your help to get Congress to pass these measures into law!
For more information, contact Daisy Pagan, firstname.lastname@example.org