What We Do
OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund), which is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars. Federal revenues deposited into the Fund also come from gifts, donations, and bequests by private parties. OVC channels funding for victim compensation and assistance throughout the United States, raises awareness about victims’ issues, promotes compliance with victims’ rights laws, and provides training and technical assistance and publications and products to victim assistance professionals.
Compensation and Assistance Services
State victim assistance and compensation programs are the lifeline services that help victims to heal in the aftermath of crime. Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) formula grants for crime victim compensation are awarded to every state, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. These grants supplement state funds that reimburse victims for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the crime.
VOCA formula grants for crime victim assistance, awarded through subgrants to state agencies and local service providers, support direct services to crime victims in every state, the District of Columbia, and every territory. Through the VOCA Assistance Formula Grant Program, OVC supports some 4,000 victim assistance programs throughout the United States and its territories each year.
OVC is dedicated to a constant improvement in the national response to crime victims by:
- Identifying emerging needs and gaps in existing services.
- Enhancing the skill sets of service providers to better meet these needs.
- Promoting greater public awareness of the issues that crime victims face.
In FY 2010, OVC sought applicants for funding through the Helping Organizations and Programs Expand (HOPE III) program, which supported the Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services initiative. The goal of this initiative is to expand the vision and impact of the crime victim assistance field.
Between 2010 and 2012, Vision 21 projects examined the existing framework of the victim assistance field nationwide and explored new and existing challenges facing the field. By providing a review of the research literature and a series of five stakeholder forums, these projects were able to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders—service providers, advocates, criminal justice professionals, allied practitioners, and policymakers—in discovering crime victim issues through a lens broader than their everyday work.
The Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services Final Report is the result of this collective examination—the first in 15 years—and seeks to transform the treatment of crime victims in this country. It recognizes that practitioners in this field, which began as a transformative movement, would not be content with maintaining the status quo or a less than bold exploration of the issues.
The Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services Final Report discusses:
- Major challenges to the integration of research into victim services.
- The tremendous need for crime victims to have access to legal assistance to address the wide range of legal issues that can arise following victimization.
- The impact of advances in technology, globalization, and changing demographics on the victim assistance field.
- The capacity for serving victims in the 21st century and some of the infrastructure issues that must be overcome to reach that capacity.
In addition, the final report outlines recommendations for bringing about this transformation, which are summarized in four broad categories:
- Conducting continuous rather than episodic strategic planning in the victim assistance field to effect real change in research, policy, programming, and capacity building.
- Supporting research to build a body of evidence-based knowledge and generate, collect, and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on victimization, emerging victimization trends, services and behaviors, and victims’ rights enforcement efforts.
- Ensuring the statutory, policy, and programmatic flexibility to address enduring and emerging crime victim issues.
- Building and institutionalizing capacity through an infusion of technology, training, and innovation to ensure that the field is equipped to meet the demands of the 21st century.
Read the Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services Final Report.
Training and Technical Assistance
OVC works to ensure that every victim has access to a well-trained and knowledgeable service provider. OVC’s Training and Technical Assistance Center offers training opportunities for providers and advocates at all levels of victim services.
The OVC Resource Center produces and disseminates publications and products for victim service providers and other key audiences and links these professionals to OVC’s program information.
In the biennial report to Congress, OVC details its major undertakings during the previous 2 fiscal years. For more information about how OVC works to improve community and criminal justice responses to victims, make services and resources more accessible, and expand the range and quality of services for victims nationwide and around the world, read the most current 2015 OVC Report to the Nation: Fiscal Years 2013-2014 Building Capacity Through Research, Innovation, Technology, and Training (August 2015). Earlier reports are available through the OVC Archive.