Governor McAuliffe Announces $56.9 Million in Funding for Crime Victims Services
RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia has been awarded $56.9 million in federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds to support and improve services for crime victims.
The funds were awarded by the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). This year’s award is $6.6 million more than the state’s award last year, and nearly 5 times the amount the Commonwealth received in 2014.
“These VOCA funds, in tandem with state funds, are essential to our efforts to maintain and expand support and resources for crime victims throughout the state,” said Governor McAuliffe. “They will enable us to reach more crime victims with critical services to help them cope with the trauma of victimization. We will continue to seek ways to expand our resources to help individuals and families heal and move forward from these difficult situations.”
The 1984 Victims of Crime Act created the Crime Victims Fund, which is one of the major sources of support for victim services each year in Virginia and throughout the United States. The money in the fund comes from criminal fines and other sources, not from taxpayers.
Beginning in 2000, Congress capped the amount of the fund available for distribution each year. The annual caps were intended to minimize the possible impact of fluctuations in deposits into the fund each year and therefore stabilize it as a source of support for services. Legislation signed by President Obama in 2014 raised the cap from $745 million to over $2.3 billion, resulting in a dramatic increase in the amount of the fund available for distribution to states each year.
“The Department of Criminal Justice Services has worked hard to reach out to advocates and victim services providers so that decisions about the use of these funds will be inclusive of their valued input,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Strengthening services for crime victims through these VOCA funds will only help continue building trust between community partners.”
The Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) receives and administers VOCA victim assistance funds for Virginia. DCJS uses the money, in combination with state funds, to provide training, technical assistance and grants to support local victim/witness programs, sexual assault crisis centers, domestic violence programs and child abuse treatment programs throughout the Commonwealth.
To determine the most effective use of last year’s increase in VOCA funds, DCJS surveyed victim advocates throughout the state and conducted four regional “Listening Sessions.” Based on that input, DCJS and its Criminal Justice Services Board awarded over $34 million in June to maintain and expand core victim services programs. DCJS also invited proposals for new initiatives to increase access to appropriate direct victim services for unserved/underserved victims of crime. Those proposals will be considered by the Services Board during their meeting tomorrow, on September 15th.
DCJS Director Fran Ecker added, “The major increases in VOCA funds last year and now this year are giving us an excellent opportunity to address long standing unmet needs and strengthen core services for crime victims across Virginia. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with our partners as we move forward.”
DCJS and the Board will continue to employ the advice and input provided by advocates and stakeholders in allocating the new funds announced today.