Drawing on the first of several longer reports from a multiyear evaluation of State victims' compensation and assistance programs supported in part with VOCA (1984 Victims of Crime Act) grant funds, this paper summarizes important grant administration policy and practice information obtained from a phone survey of State administrators as well as publicly available data; recommendations are offered for improving State and Federal policies and operations.
Because State compensation and assistance programs are two distinct types of programs and have distinctive policy and administrations issues, findings and recommendations are presented for each type of program. Regarding State compensation programs, findings from performance data and the survey of administrators show that compensation programs are generally financially sound and are functioning in compliance with specified goals and standards. States are apparently performing the essential activities of sound financial planning, outreach, claims processing and decisionmaking, coordination with victim assistance programs, program administration, and training; however, more advanced activities could be implemented in each of these areas to further enhance program functioning and services to victims. This paper offers recommendations for advanced activities in financial planning, outreach to victims, claims processing and decisionmaking, coordination, program administration, and training. Findings indicate that State VOCA victim assistance programs are generally functioning well in a number of performance areas. The most pressing problem facing State administrators is the difficulty of long-range planning under significant fluctuations in funding levels from year to year. Mechanisms for "smoothing" allocation fluctuations should be developed as needed. Recommendations for victim assistance programs are also offered in the areas of strategic planning, needs assessments, outreach to service providers and underserved populations, coordination, and support for administration and training. 3 references