VOCA Fix updated from June 2021 WCSAP Legislative Review

The VOCA Fix became law on July 22, 2021

Deposits into the federal Crime Victims Fund have dropped dramatically in the last several years, leading to a substantial cut to VOCA victim assistance grants to states (which then get distributed to local programs). Survivor advocacy organizations across the country are facing budget cuts, staff layoffs, and even program closures while demand for services is growing. Congress had the opportunity to fix this by ensuring federal financial penalties from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements are treated the same way as penalties resulting from criminal convictions — that they go to serve and compensate survivors of crime.

On Thursday, July 22, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 became law. Sustained support and messaging from advocates and survivors around the country led to the VOCA Fix being secured with 100 yes votes in the Senate and 384 yes votes in the House of Representatives.

What's next?

The VOCA Fix is a structure change to the VOCA statute that will stabilize the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) for the future, but each state has already received declining awards for three years in a row. This will likely continue to lead to significant and impactful reductions to programs until the CVF balance replenishes. The Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) will be working with programs throughout Washington to develop our next State VOCA Plan, which will help OCVA determine how to distribute funding and manage those reductions moving forward.

The VOCA Fix law also requires state VOCA administrators to waive the 20% match requirement for victim service subgrantees for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis and one additional year. Further, it allows states to request a no-cost extension from the Attorney General, to ensure states can thoughtfully and effectively distribute victim service grants without being penalized.

How does this connect to your work?

Reductions in VOCA Funds lead directly to reductions in funding for sexual assault advocacy and other services for survivors. VOCA dollars account for nearly 95% of federal funds distributed by the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) for sexual assault services in Washington State.

*thanks to the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) for providing the information needed for this update