You spoke, and Congress listened! Thanks to everyone who participated in our #DontCutVOCA action, we have something to celebrate in the New Year: Congress approved an appropriations bill that increases funding for crime survivor services, known as VOCA funding, by over 15% in 2016.
The “VOCA cap” was increased last year for the first time in a long time, creating an opportunity to fill long-standing gaps in services for those harmed by crime. This prompted EJUSA to begin a program helping organizations that serve crime survivors of color to access more funds and expand their reach.
But then, only a year later, budget proposals put VOCA funding on the chopping block – even though the Crime Victims Fund (the source of VOCA funding) doesn’t get its money from taxpayer dollars. Crime victims’ advocates went into action. EJUSA joined the fight. Thankfully, after hearing from constituents and learning more about the many reasons why programs serving crime survivors need more – not less – support, Congress came through.
If you know any groups that are help people harmed by crime to rebuild their lives – especially in underserved communities – make sure to share our VOCA toolkit with them! It has all the information they need to learn how to access these new funds.
Despite the increase, however, a dangerous precedent was set. Early in the budgeting process Congress and the President agreed to take $1.5 billion out of the Crime Victims Fund to help pay for other federal spending. The transfer of funds, as well as other earmarks in the appropriations bill, represents the first time money from the Crime Victims Fund has been allocated for use outside those specifically authorized by the Victims of Crime Act. This could signal the beginning of a new fight to prevent the raiding of funds originally intended to help crime survivors rebuild their lives.