History and Program Information
The federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was signed into law in 1984 to support victim compensation and victim assistance programs across the nation. VOCA also established the federal Crime Victims Fund to receive millions of dollars each year in federal criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalty fees, and forfeited literary profits. Held in the US Treasury, the Fund is administered by the US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime. Over 90% of these proceeds are distributed to states by formula grants to provide direct assistance and compensation to crime victims. The total federal funds awarded for victim assistance in Massachusetts in Fiscal Year 2010 was $6,612,500.
For the past twenty-two years, Massachusetts has received annual federal grants under the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to fund direct services to victims of violent crimes. These grants are administered by MOVA and distributed through a competitive application process to victim service programs across the Commonwealth. The purpose of VOCA funding is to expand and enhance direct services to victims of crime, including:
- responding to the immediate needs of crime victims,
- reducing the severity of psychological consequences of victimization,
- helping restore a victim’s sense of dignity and self-esteem and
- assisting and encouraging victims to participate in the criminal justice system.
Federal guidelines require states to allocate at least 10% of their VOCA funds to victim populations in each of the following priority areas:
- child abuse,
- sexual assault,
- domestic violence, and
- a previously under-served victim population defined at the discretion of each state.
Massachusetts has selected services to homicide survivors. In practice, each priority area receives considerably more than 10% of the total state VOCA grant.
In Massachusetts, most grants range between $50,000 and $180,000. They fund services to victims of sexual assault, victims of domestic violence, child witnesses to violence, physically and sexually abused children, survivors of homicide victims, refugee victims of crime, victims of extreme and multiple trauma, victims of hate crimes and communities that have experienced trauma due to crime. Funded services include crisis intervention, short and long term counseling, support groups, therapy, advocacy and community crisis response. The grants are reviewed annually and are monitored for compliance with performance standards.
Read the VOCA Program Guidelines and Federal OVC Guidelines , and additional information for VOCA grantees. For more information, email the Director of Grants Management & Program Resources or phone (617) 586-1340.