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National Evaluation of State Victims of Crime Act Assistance and Compensation Programs: Trends and Strategies for the Future

NCJ Number
203198
Author(s)
Lisa Newmark; Judy Bonderman; Barbara Smith; Blaine Liner
Date Published
March 2003
Length
478 pages
Annotation
This study assessed the efficiency and effectiveness of crime victim compensation and Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) assistance programs that are funded in part by Federal VOCA funds.
Abstract
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has disbursed over $3.7 billion in collections from Federal offenders into the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) from 1986 to 2002. These funds are utilized to support direct payments to victims, survivors, and compensation for crime-related expenses. One of the goals of the VOCA is to provide funds to victim assistance and victim compensation programs that deliver a seamless web of financial, emotional, psychological, and physical support to victims of crimes. As such, the research team conducted telephone interviews, site visits, and focus groups with State administrators, members of oversight bodies, victim advocacy groups, VOCA-funded local providers, victims claiming compensation, and victims accessing direct service programs in order to assess the use and effectiveness of VOCA-funded programs. The evaluation found that many compensation programs have enhanced services to clients in recent years by improving policies and case processing for clients. The report encourages the continued expansion of this trend, especially since Federal allocations to VOCA have been increased. It is recommended that programs develop needs assessments, strategic planning, coordination, and automation in order to further enhance client services. Outreach to underserved populations and streamlining of procedures are also discussed as areas for improvement. Additionally, although most victim claims are approved, the report suggests that methods for explaining denials and appeals options need improvement. Next, the report shows that State programs administering compensation funds and those providing community-level direct services have functioned well during financially trying times. Recommendations on how to better utilize VOCA funds are offered, such as making VOCA funds available for critical administrative activities and for expanding services for underserved populations. One crucial aspect of ensuring efficient program operations and effectiveness is to increase coordination between compensation and VOCA assistance programs, and among VOCA and other crime service funding streams. Cross-training of compensation and assistance staff, referral materials and other resources, and involvement in other agency’s decisionmaking processes are identified as the main ways in which interagency coordination may be accomplished. Tables, figures, references, appendix

Date Published: March 1, 2003