Federal Victims of Crime Act applications open April 3
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 30, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that applications will be available April 3 for more than $17 million in grant funding to support victims of crime under the federal Victims of Crime Act program, known as VOCA. Those eligible to apply include crime victim service providers across Kentucky, including prosecutor’s offices, law enforcement agencies and nonprofit organizations that offer direct services to victims of crime.
“The VOCA grant allows the commonwealth to renew focus on our brothers and sisters who have experienced traumatic incidents, by providing critical resources and supporting them on their journey to healing and justice,” Gov. Beshear said. “I have fought for victims of crime since my first day in public service and continue to make it a top priority as your Governor. If you are a victim of a crime, Team Kentucky and I are here for you.”
The Governor said VOCA is the only federal grant program supporting direct assistance services for victims and survivors of all types of crimes. The primary purpose of the VOCA grant program is to extend and enhance services to survivors of violent crime. Anyone who has suffered physical, sexual, financial or emotional harm as the result of the commission of a crime is eligible to receive VOCA-supported assistance services. These services respond to the emotional, psychological or physical needs of crime victims, assist them in stabilizing their lives after victimization, help them understand and navigate the criminal justice process and/or help restore a measure of security and safety for survivors.
“If you are a victim of crime in Kentucky, the state is equipped and ready to assist you in reclaiming your life,” said Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey. “No victim should go through the journey alone, and because of VOCA funding they never have to.”
Funds also support advocacy efforts for victims of domestic or sexual violence, civil legal aid, services for children and families affected by physical or sexual abuse and Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) services. State agencies, local units of government and private not-for-profit organizations may apply for these funds. The application, which is available on the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s website, offers additional information on which services qualify for funding.
The funds allocated to Kentucky from the Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, are part of the Victims of Crime Act program, known as VOCA. In 1984, Congress passed the Victims of Crime Act, which established the Crime Victim’s Fund and today supports thousands of local victim assistance programs and victim compensation programs in every state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.
VOCA funds are replenished each year through fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments collected from federal offenders by U.S. Attorneys’ offices, federal U.S. courts and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. No tax money supports the Crime Victim’s Fund.
During federal fiscal year 2022, 129,584 victims in the commonwealth were served, and 1,100,811 services were provided through VOCA grant funds.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has experienced several years of significant decreases in VOCA funding due to nationwide reductions at the federal level. To supplement this reduced funding, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s biennial budget includes an additional $10 million from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This will provide additional funding for programs that focus on crime reduction, or directly assist crime victims in the commonwealth. The application date for the ARPA funding will be announced in June.
VOCA applications are due by May 19, and awards are expected to be announced in September. Assistance with the application process may be obtained by contacting grants management staff at JUSIGX@ky.gov.
Applications must be submitted online via Intelligrants 10.0 (IGX), the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet's electronic Grants Management System. New applicants will be required to establish an account and become familiar with the system well in advance of the due date. Applicants should also note that validating a new user account requires 48 to 72 hours. Applicants must also possess a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) from the federal System for Award Management at sam.gov in order to be eligible to receive a VOCA award.
Beshear-Coleman Administration Fights for Victims of Crime
Even before his time as Governor, Gov. Beshear consistently championed reducing and preventing domestic and dating violence and abuse while helping victims and survivors receive the services they need.
As attorney general, his office arrested record numbers of child predators and trained thousands of Kentuckians to recognize, report and prevent child abuse and human trafficking.
Then-Attorney General Beshear created the Office of Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention. During that time, he and Britainy Beshear worked with community partners to open the Hope Gallery – a collection of artworks on display at the Capitol that featured images created by children served by Maryhurst, Family Scholar House, Volunteers of America and Silverleaf.
His work has continued in the Office of the Governor. The Beshear-Coleman Administration has awarded more than $104 million in grant funding to victim service agencies across the commonwealth.
On March 27, Gov. Beshear signed into law three bills to protect children from abuse by strengthening reporting requirements when Kentuckians have reason to believe a child has been abused, neglected or is a victim of human trafficking; clarified the legal definition of incest to make sure more people are protected from this hideous crime; and ensured that registered sex offenders cannot come within a 1,000 feet of a high school, middle school, elementary school, preschool, publicly owned or leased playground, or licensed day care facility.
In December, the Beshear-Coleman administration awarded more than $2 million in grant funding to 33 agencies to stop sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, as well as to enhance victim services.
In October, Gov. Beshear and Secretary Harvey awarded nearly $8 million to 56 programs and projects that support victims of violent crime by using the State Fiscal Recovery Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to ensure that support for victims and survivors of crime continues despite the nationwide reduction in the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) awards. In September, the Governor announced nearly $23 million in grant funding from the federal VOCA Formula Victim Assistance Grant Program supporting victims of crime in the commonwealth.
At the beginning of 2022, Gov. Beshear and Secretary Harvey announced that an additional $849,491 in federal grant funding had been awarded to the Kentucky State Police (KSP) to hire a new investigator with the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) investigative team to focus on investigating and identifying sexual offenders in Jefferson County. The KSP SAKI investigative team was originally formed in July 2021 after the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $1.5 million to the commonwealth to leverage existing investigative resources within the KSP Crime Lab by transitioning three trained investigators and a criminal intelligence analyst from the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General to KSP.
In February and December 2021, Gov. Beshear announced awards totaling over $4 million to fight sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution (STOP) formula grant program.
During the 2022 regular General Assembly session, the Governor signed Senate Bill 38 into law, which defines Class A and B felony incest as a violent offense, requiring offenders to serve longer sentences for committing this heinous crime. Additionally, he signed Senate Bill 271 into law in April, which will improve how domestic violence data in Kentucky is collected, analyzed and used. SB 271 will ultimately enhance responses and prevention efforts from agencies, including law enforcement, courts and service providers, and better meet the needs of victims and survivors.
During the 2021 regular legislative session, Gov. Beshear signed House Bill 310, sponsored by Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Jefferson County. HB 310 allows a commonwealth attorney to file a petition for an involuntary commitment for violent offenders who are incompetent to stand trial and would not benefit from additional treatment but are deemed a danger to themselves or others. By signing this bill, the Governor closed a gap in state law that allowed some defendants to avoid both prison time and mental health treatment.