The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984 established the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), the nation’s primary funding source to help victims of all types of crimes. CVF is a repository of federal criminal fines, forfeitures, and special assessments. It does not include tax dollars. Among the VOCA-authorized CVF grant programs is the state administered victim assistance formula grants program. It provides funding to groups and direct services for victims, such as domestic violence shelters, legal support, faith-based organizations, and child abuse organizations. OVC – the federal CVF administrator – awards the VOCA Victim Assistance Formula Grant Program in accordance with VOCA and the Victim Assistance Rule and related guidance. The states, in turn, provide subgrants to local public agencies and community service providers (referred to as “subgrantee” or “subrecipient”) that help individuals, families and communities recover from both the initial trauma and the long-term effects of victimization. Courts and legal aid organizations are eligible subgrantees.
State VOCA subgrantees must contribute 20 percent of the total project cost of each VOCA-funded project, with some exceptions, e.g., federally recognized American Indian or Alaska Native tribes and projects on tribal lands. Match may be cash and/or in-kind. In a March 2020 update to the OVC Match Waiver Approval Process, states now have the discretion to waive or partially waive the match requirement on behalf of subrecipients provided that the state has adopted an OVC-approved waiver policy.
The OVC VOCA Assistance Rule, effective August 8, 2016, included clarification that state VOCA administrators have the freedom and flexibility to use their funds for a broad array of civil legal needs beyond the immediate aftermath of the crime. It expressly authorizes funds for “Accompanying a victim to offices and court”.
OVC has identified a non-exhaustive list of legal services state VOCA victim assistance administrators could fund:
- Proceedings for protective/restraining orders or campus administrative protection/stay-away orders
- Family, custody, housing, and dependency matters, particularly for victims of intimate partner violence, child abuse, sexual assault, elder abuse, and human trafficking
- Immigration assistance for victims of human trafficking, sexual assault, and domestic violence
- Intervention with creditors, law enforcement (e.g., to obtain police reports), and other entities on behalf of victims of identity theft and financial fraud
- Intervention with administrative agencies, schools/colleges, tribal entities, and other circumstances where legal advice or intervention would assist in addressing the consequences of a person’s victimization
- VOCA funds may also be used to allow victims to file a motion to vacate and/or expunge certain convictions based on their status of being a victim.
The rule also makes clear that states may fund direct services regardless of a victim’s participation in the criminal justice process and that victim eligibility under this program for direct services is not dependent on the victim’s immigration status.
Court navigators and technology relevant to crime victims’ services are allowable uses of these funds. Use of the comparison chart is encouraged to explore other key services or aspects of collaboration that may be relevant and allowable under the Rule, e.g., multi- disciplinary partnerships and coordination activities. DOJ OVC prepared VOCApedia as a resource to address allowability questions related to the VOCA Formula Victim Assistance Grant Program Final Rule.
Administering Federal Agency
U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Justice Programs (OJP), Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)
Find Your State/Local Administrator
Go to the OVC US Resource Map of Crime Victim Services & Information webpage and click on your state to find your state/local administrator.
Amount of Available Funding
To find examples of courts and/or their justice partners receiving these funds, click on the PDF.
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