What to Know About the VOCA Funding Cuts

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What Happened with VOCA Funding?

Funding for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) is slated for a major decrease in fiscal year 2024. After funding cuts as part of Congressional spending deals, current projections show a budget cut to VOCA of about $700 million, representing a cut of nearly 40%.

Importantly, VOCA is not funded with taxpayer money. Rather, the money is allocated from a revenue pool accrued from required payments by people who are convicted—for instance, fines, penalties, and forfeited bail bonds—and given to programs that serve victims of crime, including many organizations and service providers, like victim service providers (VSPs), that Eccovia works with.

How Will VOCA Funding Cuts Impact Victim Service Providers?

This dramatic cut in funding promises to majorly disrupt these programs, which rely on a steady stream of funding to function. It is not clear how this funding cut is likely to impact each individual program, but here are some things to expect if fully enacted:

  • Downsizing staff. Most organizations can’t survive entirely on volunteer work. They require a paid, full-time staff. A significant funding cut will severely limit organizations’ ability to pay their staffers, likely leading to layoffs. Volunteers may be able to step in to some degree, but they will not be able to replace the function and expertise of full-time staff.
  • Downsizing programs and services. With fewer resources, very likely including staff, organizations will be less able to provide quality services and programs. VSPs, for instance, may offer counseling, legal assistance, and education opportunities to help the people they serve build new lives and fully escape dangerous situations—a cut in any of these services will have serious consequences. Additionally, there are strict requirements for data security to protect the privacy and safety of those they help, setting a cost floor that cannot be lowered—smaller providers may even need to shut down entirely.
  • Burnout for remaining staff. Staff cuts will likely lead to redistribution of existing work onto a smaller task force. This field is already a challenge for existing workers, as we’ve explored in past blogs. Significantly adding to this workload will certainly increase burnout, which is especially challenging for organizations relying on volunteers.
  • Poorer outcomes for affected populations. The most important consequence of all: fewer people will get the help they need. The inevitable result will be unmet needs and poorer outcomes, leaving people in dangerous situations with little recourse.

Intimate Partner Violence on the Rise

The timing of these funding cuts is especially troubling, as the US appears to be experiencing an increase in intimate partner violence, which has led to an increase in life-saving work on the part of the many victim service providers across the country. In addition to the rise of domestic partner violence during the lockdown phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, a recently-published study also shows that stricter abortion laws correlate to a rise in homicide of women and girls. At a time when debates surrounding abortion and an increase in restrictions on abortion access are increasingly salient, there is reason to believe that the need for these services will only continue to increase as funding is cut.

How to Prepare for VOCA Funding Cuts

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has released statements and prepared a fact sheet to provide more information, including how these changes might impact organizations from state to state. To learn more about these funding cuts, how it may affect you, and what might be done, check out NNEDV’s Impacts of F24 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Cuts information page.

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