Victim Support Services (VSS) is at a critical juncture and requires your immediate attention and support. As Congress works to complete its budget, we urge advocates, survivors, and community members to take immediate and ongoing action over the next few weeks to save VOCA (Victims of Crime Act).

The Victims of Crime Act’s (VOCA) Crime Victims Fund (CVF) is a non-taxpayer source of funding that supports thousands of victim services providers serving millions of victims annually and is funded by monetary penalties associated with federal convictions and certain criminal settlements. This is VSS’ primary source of funding.

Deposits fluctuate annually based on the cases that the Department of Justice successfully prosecutes and settles. Deposits have been low for several years, impacting the balance of the CVF.

Appropriators decide how much to release from the CVF every year for VOCA grants. Statutorily, this money funds specific DOJ programs and state victim assistance grants, and supplements state victim compensation funds.

It is important to have money in the CVF to provide a buffer for lean years. Unfortunately, if there are too many lean years in a row, the CVF will not be able to provide that buffer. That is the situation we are currently facing.

Because funds in the CVF are very low, the amount Appropriators will release is low and as a result, states are or will be experiencing enormous cuts to their awards. Every state manages their grant cycles differently. Most states have either already cut funding to victim service organizations or will do so this coming fiscal year.

We need your help to tell Congress that a 40% cut to VOCA will be devastating and dangerous for survivors. Congress needs to act now! 

While the VOCA grant allocation of $1.9 billion that was included in the final FY23 budget essentially levels VOCA funds  with previous years, the proposed $1.2 billion in the President’s FY24 budget and the FY24 House and Senate CJS appropriations bills is a 40% cut, as compared to FY23. At this proposed funding level, thousands of victim service providers across the nation will be forced to lay off staff, cut programs, and/or shut their doors. Victim Support Services is no exception. Since 2020, we have laid off more than half of our employees, cut three vital programs; the WA State Crime Victim Service Center 24×7 Hotline, our FREE Trauma-Informed Therapy, and the only courtroom facility dog program dedicated to a community-based Crime Victim Service Center, and closed all 6 physical offices. With more cuts, we would be forced to make the difficult decision of closing our doors after serving our community for 49 years. Without access to these critical services, the real-time impact will not only be felt by individuals and families, but also in communities nationwide. It is important to note that, after being kept in isolation due to the pandemic, many survivors are still experiencing trauma, and as a result are now coming forward seeking services. Losing access will further set back their healing and safety. 

Victim service providers across the country are working diligently with private donors and with state and local lawmakers to try to secure funds to address increased need and to provide a buffer if VOCA grants are cut by 40%. However, at present, VSS does not have the funds that we need to make it through our current fiscal year. The urgency of our plea cannot be overstated. We simply cannot absorb cuts of this magnitude and this is why we launched our fundraising campaign: Revitalize and Thrive: Rebuilding Hope Together back in 2023. We currently have raised only 12% of our goal. To donate to the Revitalize and Thrive Campaign to help us reach our goal, click here.

Given the dire potential consequences, on behalf of the victims and survivors we all serve, we ask that Congress invest adequate funding for VOCA in the final FY24 Appropriations budget.

Please consider sending a letter to your senators and state representatives! Call them! Tag them on social media! We need all the support we can get!

To find your two senators: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm

To find your representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives

You can call the Capitol switchboard and ask to be transferred to your Representatives’ and Senators’ offices at this number: (202) 224-3121 

If you would like to use our letter template, please click here and change information as necessary.

Please also make sure you follow us on social media for the latest updates, and to share our posts.

Questions? Please contact VSS Executive Director, Dr. Michaela Weber at [email protected].