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Justice for Victims. Justice for All.
Office for Victims of Crime
2013 OVC Report to the Nation: Fiscal Years 2011-2012 'Transforming Today's Vision into Tomorrow's Reality'
Report to the Nation Home  |  Message From the Director  |  Exhibits

VOCA Assistance: The Stories

Photo of a woman holding a notebook and smiling

The VOCA Assistance Formula Grant Program supports some 4,000 victim assistance programs throughout the United States and its territories each year. Funding for these programs, which is awarded through subgrants to state agencies and local service providers, is the most extensive demonstration of OVC's commitment to helping individuals, families, and communities cope with both the initial trauma and the long-term effects of victimization.

Direct assistance to crime victims encompasses crisis counseling, telephone and onsite information and referrals, criminal justice support and advocacy, emergency shelter, therapy, and other assistance. Funds may also be used to develop new programs to address emerging needs and gaps in services, which are continually being identified and assessed to further assist victims.

Overall, in FYs 2011 and 2012, nearly 7,246,900 victims benefited from $807,749,929 in VOCA-funded assistance to help ensure they would receive the support they needed to reclaim their lives.


New York Serves Diverse Population With Fluency in 40 Languages

New York has been known for its large influx of immigrants for more than two centuries. According to the 2010 U.S Census, more than 13 percent of the state's population has limited English proficiency—roughly 2.5 million residents who will need linguistically appropriate assistance in the event of criminal victimization. To improve communications with victims who struggle to speak, read, or write the English language, the New York State Office of Victim Services (NYSOVS) conducted a language proficiency survey of its victim assistance and compensation programs and found that, altogether, service providers and advocates had the skills necessary to communicate in more than 40 languages. To build awareness of its multilingual services, NYSOVS disseminated "I Speak" desk cards to identify providers' language proficiencies. If no one in a particular office speaks a victim's preferred language, staff can access a secure database to locate a provider with the necessary expertise.

VOCA Supports Grassroots Organizations That Close Gaps in Needed Services

VOCA state assistance programs support millions of crime victims throughout the Nation, the majority of whom are struggling to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse. In addition to large, well-established public agencies and private organizations that receive funding to provide direct assistance, concerned members of local communities may respond to an emerging, specific need close to home. VOCA provides support to these groups, provided they can establish their credentials as competent service providers. Two such organizations in the Southeastern United States are addressing the needs of drug-endangered children and ethnically diverse victims of domestic violence:

  • The Children's Center of the Cumberlands is in Scott County, Tennessee, where 25 percent of children live in poverty and methamphetamine production is rampant. With extremely limited resources, the center is working to protect, rescue, and heal these young victims. In 2012, the center provided urgently needed therapy and medical care to 250 drug-endangered children, as well as many others suffering from abuse and neglect.
  • Crisis Services of North Alabama, which serves victims of interpersonal violence, partnered with AshaKiran ("Ray of Hope"), a group of community-minded women, to provide culturally sensitive services to ethnic South Asian victims. Volunteers must complete a 32-hour course to prepare to provide crisis intervention by telephone around the clock, counseling victims of sexual and intimate partner violence.

Of Special Interest

  • The Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) recently undertook two important initiatives to enhance victims' rights and services throughout the state. First, all courthouses and police stations were mandated to post victims' rights to ensure greater awareness of these rights and relevant services. Second, MOVA created a Separate and Secure Waiting Area (SSWA) Task Force to ensure compliance with a 1984 law requiring separate waiting areas for victims and witnesses in courthouses. Such laws help ensure that they will not be intimidated or harmed by waiting in close proximity with the accused. The task force assessed 91 courts and found that although the law had been in place for 28 years, only 4 courts were in compliance. Two years after the assessment, 43 courts had designated SSWAs, 12 were on track to be in compliance in 2012, and 36 were working with the task force to comply with the law.
  • A growing number of VOCA state agencies are employing technology to increase their operational efficiency—efforts that, in turn, enhance delivery of services to victims. The Arizona Department of Public Safety's Crime Victim Services Unit uses an online grant management system to accept applications, conduct peer reviews, create contracts, collect data, reimburse grantees, and measure outcomes and the status of project goals. Peer review comments are entered directly into the system, allowing for enhanced transparency, as all applicants have access to feedback and use it to strengthen future applications. Additionally, subrecipient agencies input quarterly outcome measures, so agency staff can easily track their projects' progress.
  • Many state administrators use VOCA funds to support victim-witness coordinators and advocates, as these specialists can provide a broader range of services to victims and improved coordination of services. In Douglas County, Kansas, for example, VOCA funds support a coordinator who works specifically with victims of juvenile crimes. One of the coordinator's duties is to administer the Property Crimes Coordination Fund, which helps crime victims repair or replace damaged or stolen property after victimization.