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What is VOCA?

The Federal Crime Victims Fund (CVF) established through the passage of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in 1984, is financed by fines, forfeitures, and penalty assessments on offenders of federally prosecuted cases. It built the nation's infrastructure of services to crime victims and continues as the primary funding source for victim services. This includes state compensation programs (PA's Victims Compensation Assistance Program) which provide direct reimbursement to or on behalf of crime victims for unexpected and often catastrophic expenses due to crime.

The other purpose of the fund is to support organizations that provide services to crime victims through the federal VOCA Formula Grant Program. Such services include crisis intervention, emergency shelter, counseling and court accompaniment.  Each year, the United States Department of Justice allocates VOCA funding, based upon population, to each of the states and territories.

The federal VOCA guidelines state that VOCA funding is to be used for the following purposes:

  • To respond to the emotional and physical needs of crime victims
  • To assist primary and secondary victims of crime to stabilize their lives after a victimization
  • To assist victims to understand and participate in the criminal justice system
  • To provide victims of crime with a measure of safety and security

Who can receive VOCA funding?

According to federal VOCA guidelines, to be eligible for VOCA funding, applicants must provide services to crime victims and be operated by a non-profit organization or public agency, or a combination of such agencies or organizations. Eligible organizations include:

  • Victim service organizations whose sole missions is to provide services to crime victims
  • A public or non-profit organization that has a component which offers services to victims, if the funds are used to expand or enhance the delivery of crime victim services

How is VOCA Funding used?

VOCA funds are used to support the provision of  essential services for individuals who have experience crime victimization, including individual counseling, emergency shelter and safe housing, notification of criminal justice events, crisis intervention, hotlines and crisis line counseling, emergency justice-related assistance, and direct services to victims of crime.

In addition, VOCA funds can be used for activities which support the provision of direct services and administrative costs.  This can include, but is not limited to, supervision of direct service providers, skills training for staff, training-related travel, and operating costs. Ineligible VOCA funded activities include, but are not limited to, lobbying, fundraising, and research.

For a more detailed list of eligible and ineligible VOCA activities please click here.