OVC funds direct services to victims through a variety of avenues:
- State Formula Grants
- VOCA Statutory Set-Asides
- OVC Discretionary Funding
- Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve
State Formula Grants
- State victim compensation program formula grants supplement state funds for reimbursing victims who suffer from victimizations for out-of-pocket costs resulting from the crime. Under the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, each state compensation program receives an annual victim compensation grant. Although each state administers its program independently, most programs have similar eligibility requirements and offer comparable benefits.
- State victim assistance formula grants fund providers who supply services directly to victims. The 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico each receive an annual VOCA victim assistance grant with a base amount of $500,000; the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa each receive a grant with a base amount of $200,000. Additional funds are distributed to states and territories on the basis of population. In each state and territory, VOCA assistance funds are awarded to local community-based organizations and public agencies that provide services directly to victims. A maximum of 5 percent of each year’s state formula grant may be used for administration; the rest must be used to provide direct services to victims.
VOCA Statutory Set-Asides
A critical component of OVC’s statutory mission is support of direct services to federal crime victims. This support helps individuals, families, and communities recover from the immediate harm and the long-term effects of victimization.
- Victim-witness coordinators in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices assist victims of federal crimes and inform them about various issues, including restitution orders and their right to make oral and written victim impact statements at an offender’s sentencing, in accordance with the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance.
- FBI victim specialists inform victims of federal crimes about case developments and proceedings, and direct them to appropriate resources, in accordance with the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance.
- The Federal Victim Notification System notifies victims of federal crimes of the release or detention status of offenders, the filing of charges against suspects, court proceedings, sentencing, and restitution.
- The Children’s Justice Act provides formula grants to states through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and discretionary grants to tribes through OVC for services and programs to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
OVC Discretionary Funding
Up to 50 percent of OVC discretionary funding can support and enhance services to federal crime victims through support for tribal grants and positions at agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, DOD, and the National Park Service. OVC discretionary funding also supports demonstration programs that may provide direct services.
Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve
Created following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve funds emergency expenses—and other services for victims of terrorism or mass violence within the United States and abroad—through the following primary programs: the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program, the International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program, the Crime Victim Assistance Emergency Fund at the FBI, and the Federal Crime Victims Assistance Fund for U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. Learn more about OVC’s efforts to support victims of terrorism and mass violence.
Services for Victims of Terrorism and Mass Violence
OVC collaborates with federal, state, and local partners to ensure that victims and survivors of domestic and international terrorism receive the physical, emotional, and financial support—including emergency assistance—that they need to rebuild their shattered lives.
OVC and Partners Provide Coordinated Response to Domestic Terrorism
The Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP) provides assistance and compensation services for victims of domestic terrorism and intentional mass criminal violence, and assistance for victims of international terrorism. Funded activities may include compensation, emergency relief—including crisis response efforts—and both immediate and ongoing assistance. In FYs 2013 and 2014, OVC provided the following support to communities to recover from incidents of mass violence and terrorism within the United States:
- On July 20, 2012, a gunman entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 69 others. OVC awarded a $2.9 million AEAP grant to the Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS) in February 2013 to support victim services. Through the 3-year grant, CDPS is providing funding to additional Colorado agencies, including the 18th District Attorney’s Office, the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, the Aurora Mental Health Center, the Denver and Aurora Police Departments, and the Jefferson County and Arapahoe County Sheriffs’ Departments, to assist the 1,500 victims.
- On December 14, 2012, after killing his mother, a gunman broke into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 students and 6 educators and wounding 12 students and 2 educators. OVC awarded two AEAP grants to the Connecticut Judicial Branch; one for crisis response for $1.5 million and the other to support consequence management for $7.1 million. Additionally, OVC awarded a $775,914 AEAP grant to the Town of Newtown for additional consequence management expenses. These awards reimbursed organizations for crisis intervention services, trauma-informed care, select victim-related law enforcement expenses, counseling and other mental health services, some of the costs associated with moving students from Sandy Hook Elementary to a new location, select school hardening costs to help students feel safe and secure, and other services essential to victim healing.
- On January 29, 2013, in Midland City, Alabama, a gun-wielding individual stopped a school bus carrying 20 children. He killed the bus driver, kidnapped a 5-year-old boy, and held the boy hostage in an underground bunker for 6 days until he was rescued. OVC awarded a $141,783 AEAP grant to the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in June 2013 to provide counseling to child victims in response to this traumatic event. The CAC, located in a small, rural county with modest resources, is providing trauma counseling and additional emotional and psychological services for these young children.
- On April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three spectators and injuring hundreds. During the subsequent 4 days, the suspects killed a police officer and took a hostage (who later escaped) before one suspect was killed and the other apprehended. In January 2014, OVC awarded an $8,355,648 AEAP grant to the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) to reimburse victims, witnesses, and first responders to the bombings as well as residents of neighborhoods in which subsequent events occurred. MOVA will use these funds to reimburse incurred costs and support the future expenses of organizations providing crisis intervention services, trauma-informed care, socioeconomic support, wraparound legal services, and other victim assistance. Approximately 1,000 victims will need crisis counseling and other long-term recovery services.10
On April 18, 2013, in response to the Boston Marathon bombing, OVC, in cooperation with the FBI and the Office of Victim Assistance, activated its toll-free crisis hotline for 12 days. Staffed by clinical psychologists and operated by FEI Behavioral, the Family Call Center was able to provide support to the victims, family members, and community impacted by this tragedy. After the crisis activation ended, the Family Call Center continued to take calls from individuals affected by the bombing.
OVC Programs Support Victims of International Terrorism
OVC’s International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program (ITVERP) reimburses eligible victims of terrorist incidents outside the United States for expenses associated with the victimization, such as out-of-pocket funeral and burial expenses; medical bills; mental health and crisis counseling; property loss, repair, and replacement; and miscellaneous costs, such as temporary housing, local transportation, phone calls, and emergency travel. ITVERP support to victims in FYs 2013 and 2014 totaled $299,089 for 55 claims, including victims of the Westgate Mall Attack in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 21, 2013, and the U.S. Consulate Attack in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. As of the end of FY 2014, ITVERP had paid claims for expenses related to 112 incidents in 33 countries.
In FYs 2013 and 2014, ITVERP launched a new Web site that includes a Fact Sheet, Frequently Asked Questions, updated resource links, and a video about the program as well as information about ITVERP eligibility requirements, reimbursement categories and covered expenses, and the claims review process. ITVERP also released a Claimant Feedback Tool in 2013 to collect information about the application and claims processes. Once a claim decision has been made, claimants are asked about their experience to help ITVERP staff enhance program administration and improve customer service. Also in FYs 2013 and 2014, ITVERP increased its efforts to increase awareness about the program and the available financial support. During the reporting period, ITVERP conducted direct outreach and distributed program materials to U.S. military installations around the world and to ten international nongovernmental organizations. OVC’s annual ITVERP Report to Congress provides more detailed information about program services.
OVC Supports Emergency Assistance for Victims of Terrorism
As part of a DOJ-wide response to victims of terrorist acts within the United States and abroad, OVC provides funding to the Crime Victim Assistance Emergency Fund, administered by the FBI Office for Victim Assistance, to support services for victims and their families, including emergency food, clothing, shelter, and temporary housing; emergency transportation for medical care and travel assistance to reunite family members with injured survivors unable to travel; repatriation of the remains of a deceased victim; transportation expenses of secondary victims; crisis counseling; and child and dependent care.12 Additionally, OVC sets aside money each year through the Federal Crime Victims Assistance Fund to fund direct services that U.S. Attorneys’ Offices request for victims of federal crimes. This fund pays for emergency shelter, emergency child care, crisis counseling, transportation to court, and other critical direct services when local services are unavailable.13
Services for Tribal Communities
Isolation, poverty, high rates of crime, and a continuing lack of resources in many American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities—compounded by complex jurisdictional issues and cultural diversity among tribes—make this underserved population a critical focus for OVC. In coordination with a comprehensive DOJ initiative to increase engagement and action on tribal justice issues, OVC focuses its support on developing culturally appropriate programs and projects that reflect an understanding of tribal practices. In addition to funding innovative programs that provide services to AI/AN victims, OVC continues to support ongoing projects to provide critical training and technical assistance to service providers and allied practitioners in tribal communities.
Coordinated Tribal Assistance Program
DOJ’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) program provides funding for federally recognized tribes, tribal consortia, and tribally designated organizations. OVC supports two programs within CTAS:
- The Comprehensive Tribal Victim Assistance Program supports tribal programs in responding to victims of crime, their families, and their communities and provides trauma-informed, culturally competent holistic services. Under this program, OVC awarded eight grants in FY 2013 and eight grants in FY 2014.
- The Children’s Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities Program provides comprehensive and coordinated multidisciplinary responses to child abuse victims and their families in ways that are trauma-informed and culturally competent. Funds support tribal efforts to develop, enhance, and operate programs to improve the investigation, prosecution, and overall response to child abuse. Under this program, OVC awarded seven grants in FY 2013 and seven grants in FY 2014.
Bakken Region Demonstration Project
Through an interagency agreement, OVC has provided Vision 21 funding to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Office of Justice Services (OJS), to implement a victim assistance project on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Fort Berthold sits at the heart of the Bakken Oil Boom region, where rapid growth in population has resulted in an insurgence of criminal activity that includes drug trafficking, sex trafficking, domestic violence, assault, and property crime. This project will enable BIA/OJS to hire and retain one full-time victim specialist to provide support, referrals, and other direct services to AI/AN victims of crime at Fort Berthold.