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Crime Victim Assistance Funds Available for Cities.

Funding and technical assistance is available to communities wishing to improve or expand victim assistance efforts.

The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) established the Crime Victims Fund to serve as a major funding source for victim services throughout the country.

The fund is supported not by tax dollars, but by fines, penalty assessments, and bond forfeitures collected from convicted federal offenders. About 90 percent of VOCA funding goes directly to the states to support victim compensation and local victim-assistance programs. Most states make awards on a competitive basis, and any local agency serving crime victims is eligible to compete.

Mayors, city council members, and law enforcement leaders are using these funds to hire victim/witness coordinators and, in larger areas, to establish victim assistance units throughout the criminal justice system.

We're also seeing a growing number of smaller criminal justice agencies partnering with community non-profit agencies who obtain VOCA funding to assist these departments in providing crisis response, information and referral, and other supportive services. While many of the latter models were started to provide support and advocacy to domestic violence and sexual assault victims, there is a growing trend for these agencies to work with law enforcement, in particular, to provide services for victims of all violent crimes.

The advocates have access to law enforcement records and work in tandem with the police in responding to the needs of victims of violent crimes.

Through VOCA funding, community organizations have been able to support law enforcement by providing victims on the scene crisis intervention, information and referral services, follow-up contacts, assistance with obtaining shelters/safe houses and emergency financial assistance, and assistance in filing victim compensation claims.

VOCA funding doesn't just go to criminal justice agencies.

It supports any government organization of private non-profit that serves victims, survivors and families of crimes that include drunk driving crashes, homicides, assault, child and spouse abuse, robbery, elder abuse, fraud, school violence, and gang activity to name just a few. VOCA funds can also be obtained for technology that fosters improved service delivery to victims such as computers for case management systems.

In addition to funding OVC also sponsors a Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC). This service is available free to local communities and serves as a centralized access point for information about OVC's training and technical assistance resources.

Through TTAC, OVC: 1) provides expert, focused support and mentoring in areas such as program management, program evaluation, and policy/procedure development to facilitate long-term, systematic change to improve services to crime victims; 2) ensures that training materials developed through OVC discretionary grants are available to the victims services field and that expert trainers are available to present them, and 3) supplies speakers, who can offer expertise on a wide range of criminal justice and victim related topics, for conferences, focus groups, and other meetings.

Information is available at the OVC website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc for information on the location of their state VOCA offices and state VOCA application procedures. Further information on TTAC and the OVC Resource Center can also be obtained from the OVC website.

Marilyn Keel is a program specialist with the special projects division of the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
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Title Annotation:Crime Victims Fund
Author:Keel, Marilyn
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 2, 2000
Words:546
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