State compensation programs are continually finding ways to reach more victims, determine claims more efficiently, gain information from law enforcement, and expand benefits to eligible victims.
Delaware processes compensation claims quickly. Compensation investigators can retrieve information instantly from police reports in DELJIS, the information system used by all law enforcement, justice, and corrections agencies across the state’s three counties. If the relevant information is available, urgent matters, including requests for funeral and burial benefits, are decided in hours rather than days.
Also in Delaware, the Child Counseling and Assessment Program offers up to $1,200 toward the cost of psychological assessments and short-term outpatient therapy to meet the mental health needs of child victims younger than age 18 at the time of the crime. A police report is not required for program eligibility. This benefit helps—
- Reduce the long-term traumatic impact of crime for child victims.
- Identify symptoms of trauma that might not be recognized by family members.
- Potentially reduce the need for mental health care and other social services later in life.
District of Columbia
The District of Columbia Compensation Program works in an urban, high-crime, high-population-density jurisdiction. In the District, victims can meet with officers at one of two separate locations for personalized assistance with filing a claim or to pick up a check. The one-to-one assistance helps ensure that victims receive all applicable benefits and reduces errors that can slow down processing time. A satellite office is located in a hospital in a section of the District with a high rate of domestic violence protection orders. There, victims can speak with compensation program staff after being treated in the emergency room or following a video conference protection order hearing. By working face to face with victims, staff can provide food cards and transportation vouchers to those in immediate need. The program has agreements in place with local businesses such as neighborhood pharmacies that allow victims to quickly obtain medicines and other necessities.
Rather than deny incomplete applications, the Crime Victim Assistance Division in Iowa designates eligible applications that are missing only administrative or technical details, such as a signature, as “eligible-no-pay.” These applications are held for an indeterminate time and paid once the applicant provides the missing information. The eligible-no-pay designation also is used if a victim has no uncovered expenses at the time of approval. This designation recognizes that a victim could have crime-related expenses at a later time.
The Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board was using significant staff time to determine loss of support for dependents of murdered victims. The board found that many victims were unemployed at the time of the murder, so their children were not receiving any benefits. Beginning in 2007, each child of a homicide victim receives $350 per month until age 18, regardless of whether or not the murdered person was employed at the time of the crime. Although victims still must apply and be approved for benefits, this approach eliminates concerns about the victim’s employment status at the time of death and contributes to long-term healthy child development at relatively low cost. In state fiscal year 2013, 19 percent of the board’s total expenditures were for loss of support benefits.
The New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission builds trust with victims at a time when their trust may be low as a result of the crime. Within 5 days of an application for compensation being submitted, a special advocate from the compensation program contacts the victim. The advocate reviews the application, assesses whether an emergency award is applicable, and triages additional needs that can be addressed by external agencies, community organizations, and advocacy groups. The reparations officer assigned to the case also contacts the victim to explain the compensation process and answer questions, ensuring that the victim is contacted personally by at least two program staff, even before eligibility is determined.
The South Carolina Victim Compensation Program requires mental health care providers to be trained in evidence-based treatment to meet the needs of these young victims. South Carolina is using community-based dissemination, training, and implementation to increase the capacity of every community in the state to deliver evidence-supported mental health treatments to abused and traumatized children who need them. Project BEST is sponsored by the Medical University of South Carolina, a member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The project teaches clinicians how to deliver evidence-supported treatments and monitor the child’s progress. Through training and ongoing consultation, Project BEST also builds the knowledge and skills of mental health service providers so they may better plan, administer, and manage evidence-based treatment. The project and state office Web sites feature a list of professionals who have completed training. Victims can search by county to find trained mental health providers in their area.
State law requires the Washington Crime Victims Compensation program to cover the costs of sexual assault forensic medical examinations. To expedite the reimbursement process, the program consolidated billing into a one-page form and eliminated the use of CPT® (Current Procedural Terminology) codes. CPT codes are the most widely accepted medical nomenclature used to report medical procedures and services under public and private health insurance programs.