VOCA Compensation Highlights
The VOCA Compensation Formula Grant Program provides funding to help crime victims recover from financial losses resulting from their victimization. Funds supplement a state’s efforts to provide financial assistance and reimbursement to victims for crime-related out-of-pocket expenses, including medical and dental care, counseling, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages and income. Compensation programs may also reimburse victims for other types of expenses related to their victimization, such as travel, temporary lodging, crime scene cleanup, and dependent care.
Compensation reports designate not only the number of claims paid in each crime category but also how many of these claims involved certain types of victimization, including, for example, domestic violence. This victimization was a factor in 63,036 incidents—23 percent of the compensation claims during FYs 2013 and 2014.
In FYs 2013 and 2014, state compensation benefits, which consist of both federal and state funds, totaled $751,015,672, which supported 275,470 victims and survivors of crime as they struggled to cope in the aftermath of their victimization and rebuild their lives.
Stories From the States
- As the Nation’s largest compensation program, the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) continues to find ways to provide compensation to underserved victims in California. In FY 2013, OVC competitively funded CalVCP’s partnership with the University of California-Berkeley to conduct a needs assessment to identify underserved victims who may be unable to access compensation or who have been hidden or overlooked in the past. CalVCP is currently implementing the recommendations identified by University of California-Berkeley and modifying their victim compensation applications, Web site, and other tools to better meet the needs of underserved victims—victims of human trafficking; individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ); youth; communities affected by gang violence; individuals with disabilities; immigrant communities; and rural communities. CalVCP has ensured that all parts of the online compensation application are available in Spanish and has conducted initial development of an updated online application tool.
- The Iowa Crime Victim Assistance Division administers the Iowa Crime Victim Compensation Program and continually looks for ways to improve efficiency in the program’s administration. Rather than deny incomplete compensation applications, the program designates eligible applications that are missing only administrative or technical details (such as a signature) as ″eligible-no-pay.” These applications are held for an indeterminate time and paid once the applicant provides the missing information. The eligible-no-pay designation is also used if a victim has no uncovered expenses at the time of approval. This designation recognizes that a victim could have crime-related expenses at a later time.
In FY 2013, OVC competitively funded the division’s work with the University of Iowa to conduct a needs assessment, which identified emergency relocation and housing/utility assistance as two of the greatest unmet needs for victims in Iowa. The division will seek to add these two benefit categories to the Compensation Program and will create a standardized, reader-friendly registration packet to make the application process clearer to crime victims.
- The Vermont Victims Compensation Program uses a victim-centered approach to develop and implement policies and procedures that ensure a fair and consistent process for victims. The program provides interpreter services to nonnative English speakers to help them communicate, interact with, and access services; its toll-free telephone number allows for efficient and effective communication between victims, providers, and compensation staff. The program also has translated its Victims Compensation Application into French, Spanish, Bosnian, Somali, and Vietnamese. In FY 2013, OVC competitively funded the program’s work with the Vermont Center for Justice Research to collect and analyze data on specific underserved communities and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, visually impaired, or have other functional disabilities, and older victims. The program is conducting a statewide needs assessment to identify gaps in services and determine the best methods to increase the program’s responsiveness, efficiency, and accessibility. The program will use the results of the needs assessment to implement new technologies, practices, and policies to improve accessibility to compensation for all victims in Vermont.