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The Crime Victim Compensation Program Initiative was instituted to further the Department of Justice's mission to provide crime victims with the services they need to recover from their victimization. Through this Fiscal Year 2013 initiative, OVC awarded funds to three state crime victim compensation programs over 3 years to help them develop or enhance innovative strategies to increase their program's efficiency, responsiveness, and accessibility for crime victims, with a particular focus on meeting the needs of underserved victims. The three programs—the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP), the Iowa Crime Victim Compensation Program (Iowa CVCP), and the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services (VCCVS)—are models of responsiveness for other states to replicate.
Every state, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico has a crime victim compensation program, with funds available to help crime victims recover from financial losses resulting from their victimization.
These programs are funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act Compensation Formula Grant Program, which disperses funds from the Crime Victims Fund (www.ovc.gov/about/victimsfund.html) to supplement a state's efforts to financially assist and reimburse victims for crime-related, out-of-pocket expenses. These expenses may include fees for medical and dental care, counseling, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages and income. Compensation programs may also reimburse victims for other types of expenses related to their victimization, such as travel, temporary lodging, crime scene cleanup, and dependent care.
To begin, the grant recipients examined the needs of their states' crime victims and identified critical gaps and challenges in their procedures that may prevent victims from applying for the compensation they deserve. Next, the programs planned innovative projects, policies, and practices to address any deficiencies. Finally, each program established local partnerships to collaborate on implementing their projects and achieving their respective goals.
CalVCP (www.vcgcb.ca.gov/victims) conducted a statewide needs assessment that used research on victimology and included a survey of mental health providers, community-based organizations, and government agencies. Staff also interviewed victims, service providers, and victim advocates to identify underserved communities, their unmet needs, and barriers to accessing compensation and services.
The needs assessment identified that—
Iowa CVCP (www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-crime-victims/crime-victim-compensation-program) assessed the state's use and enforcement of restitution orders. Twenty-one interviews were conducted at the county level, which included surveying 46 judges from all 8 judicial districts.
These efforts revealed that—
In June 2015, VCCVS (www.ccvs.vermont.gov) assessed its program using two surveys it developed with the Crime Research Group in Montpelier, Vermont: the Compensation Program Applicant Survey and the Service Provider Survey.
Through the Compensation Program Applicant Survey, VCCVS determined—
Through the Service Provider Survey, VCCVS determined that—
CalVCP translated its application, principal brochure, and correspondence into Spanish and 12 other languages. It also developed a plan for reaching underserved victims through collaboration and conducted two regional training conferences for crime victim advocates, service providers, law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, and medical personnel, titled “Strategic Collaborations for Reaching Underserved Victims of Crime.” The program also provided web-based training courses for victim-witness and community-based advocates, mental health professionals, medical personnel, and the general public on helping victims access the compensation program.
CalVCP's plans for assisting the state's service providers included—
The CalVCP Board agreed that CalVCP would pursue legislation or policy modifications to—
CalVCP will hire an objective third-party evaluator to determine the effectiveness of its strategies to increase victims' and service providers' awareness and use of CalVCP's services.
Iowa CVCP is working with the University of Iowa to pilot test the new registration forms, which were redesigned for an easier readability level. Applicants' comprehension of the forms is being tested in three counties to determine whether the new readability levels will lead to more victims registering for restitution.
Iowa CVCP is also working with the State Court Administrator to—
In addition, the IAP will hire a judicial assistant to—
VCCVS used results from its surveys to make its Victims Compensation Application more accessible to all victims, including individuals with disabilities and LEP communities. It also increased outreach efforts to enhance underserved populations' access to compensation.
VCCVS's efforts to improve its compensation application include—
VCCVS also increased its outreach efforts to—
VCCVS will evaluate the changes it has implemented by—
For more information about these Crime Victim Compensation Programs, contact—
For more information about the Office for Victims of Crime, please contact—
Office for Victims of Crime
U.S. Department of Justice
810 Seventh Street NW.,
Washington, DC 20531
For copies of this fact sheet and other OVC publications or information on additional victim-related resources, please contact—
Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center
P.O. Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849–6000
Ask OVC: https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/askovc
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