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Action-A-Day 6/8: Ask Congress to Support Funding for Victims of Crime

ACTION: Call your Federal representatives and ask them to reject the 2017 Federal Budget’s proposal to cap VOCA’s funding (provided by criminal fines, NOT TAXPAYERS) at $2 billion,with $481 carved out for other programs.  Together Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA), and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) create and support comprehensive responses to the needs of victims of domestic violence.

SAMPLE SCRIPT: I am asking your office to reject these proposed budget cuts to Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA), and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and prioritize these vital programs in your appropriations requests by requesting the full authorized funding level for these programs. Thank you for working to increase federal investments in these lifesaving programs.

ADDITIONAL ACTION: Complete this form letter to be sent to your Federal elected officials from the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

BACKGROUND: Yesterday, domestic violence prevention advocates met with law makers in DC to ask that the funding related to Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA), and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) stay separate to protect the integrity and longevity of the services they provide.

The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) created the Crime Victims Fund which is a mandatory spending account dedicated solely to assisting victims of crime. This fund receives money from federal criminal fines and penalties, NOT TAXPAYER DOLLARS. State VOCA victim assistance formula grants support direct services, such as emergency shelter, crisis intervention, counseling and assistance in participating in the criminal justice system, through more than 4,000 public and community-based agencies to an average of 3.7 million victims every year.

Although the fund has grown, it has not even kept up with the rate of inflated costs of the services it provides, yet Congressional appropriations have historically voted to allow the VOCA fund to offset other programs that are not VOCA authorized. The proposed 2017 Federal budget sets the fund’s cap it $2 billion and carves $481 million of the VOCA fund to go to non-VOCA authorized programs. This proposal would mean a 41% reduction from FY 2015. Proposals to transfer amounts from the Crime Victims Fund for non-VOCA authorized programs undermines the Fund’s original purpose, its integrity and its longevity as well as set a precedent that opens the door for even greater, ongoing erosion of the Fund’s ability to support VOCA authorized victim services.

In Maryland, VOCA funds are used for bi-lingual advocates, shelters for elderly and individuals with disabilities; services for children and victims in rural areas; technology and infrastructure, including ADA compliance; expand services for victims of elder abuse, child abuse, ID theft and financial crimes, LGBTQ, gang violence, human trafficking, and hospital-based violence intervention programs.

SOURCES
NNEDV Report on VOCA
HuffPost Article on DV Funding
NNEDV Public Policy Page
Breakdown of VAWA and related program funding