Victims of Crime Act

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Program funds projects that provide direct services to crime victims. VOCA grant funding is derived from the United States Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, who distribute grant funding to states based on fines and penalties levied against criminals convicted of federal crimes.

Visit the DCJ Grants page to apply for VOCA grant funds.

What Does VOCA Fund?

VOCA dollars only fund organizations that provide direct services to victims of crime. Direct services include, but are not limited to:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Emergency services
  • Counseling
  • Legal advocacy
  • Criminal justice and court support
  • Training and coordination of volunteers who provide direct services to crime victims

Is My Organization Eligible?

To receive VOCA funds, an organization must provide direct victim services to crime victims and be operated by a public agency or a nonprofit organization, or a combination of both. Agencies must:

  • Have a record of providing effective services to victims of crime
  • Have substantial financial support from sources other than VOCA
  • Use volunteers
  • Promote community efforts to aid crime victims
  • Assist victims in applying for compensation

When are the Funds Awarded?

VOCA awards are made every two years, typically in late summer or early fall. The Crime Victim Services Advisory Board makes the funding recommendations to the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice and the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety.

My Organization is Eligible for VOCA. Are There Additional Requirements?

Yes. A 20% or 25% cash or in-kind match is required for all grant recipients. This match must be used for providing direct victim services as outlined by the federal rule. Indian tribes or Native American organizations on Indian reservations are not required to provide matching funds. In addition, grant recipients are required to comply with all state, federal, and local guidelines, including completing a quarterly report in the federal reporting system (PMT).

What Organizations Have Received Funding?

A variety of organizations have received VOCA funds. Click on each link to view grant award recipients for that year.

Evaluation of VOCA Funding Increases in Colorado: Key Findings

Contributors: Susan E. Buckingham, Anne P. DePrince, & Naomi Wright (alphabetical order).

The 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) established the Crime Victims Fund, which provides money to states for victim services. In Colorado, VOCA funds are administered by the State of Colorado Office for Victims Programs (OVP). OVP sought to use increases in VOCA funding in 2016 to improve organizational capacity to provide victim services throughout the state. Not surprisingly, the number of agencies who received VOCA funding increased as more funds became available during regular grant cycles in 2017 (see Figure 1 for examples). To gauge whether organizational capacity of these organizations also increased, two complementary evaluation approaches examined organizational capacity trends from 2015 to 2019. 

The first approach focused on 88 agencies that had continuous VOCA funding from 2016-2019 as well as baseline data from 2015 to measure change in organizational capacity across the same set of agencies before and after the increase in funds. In addition, 30 randomly selected program directors were interviewed three times (Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019). The second evaluation used a Geographic Information System to examine the distribution of funding and clients across the state from 2015 to 2019 as a function of the areas (e.g., cities, judicial districts, counties, statewide) served by individual agencies.

Figure 1 Number of Agencies that Provided Housing Services

Both evaluation approaches documented improvements in organizational capacity associated with increased funding, using a combination of grant report data and program director interviews. For example, Figure 2 illustrates statistically significant increases over time in overall clients served (blue) as well as new clients (red) by the 88 agencies with continuous funding.  Figure 3 shows the distribution of clients served across the state in 2019. Program directors described VOCA funding as essential to their organization capacity to serve clients.

Figure 2 Total and New Clients Served by Quarter, 2015-2019
Figure 3 Clients as a Function of Agency Service Areas

The two evaluation approaches provided details about the kinds of services and service locations that saw increases. For example, Figure 4 shows statistically significant changes in the number of clients per quarter who received information and referrals, justice system assistance, and personal advocacy or accompaniment services. Grant reports also provided evidence of increased services to potentially vulnerable (e.g., children, older adults) and diverse (e.g., Latinx, Black, and LGBTQ) clients.

The mapping evaluation offered a novel way to identify successes and challenges where lessons learned can inform other areas or regions. For example, identifying reasons that JD12 and JD13 did not see increases in capacity from 2015 to 2019 could guide future efforts to build capacity in those areas. Other areas showed increases in capacity beyond what might be expected given relative funding levels. For example, services expanded in the Front Range, though the relative funding level was lower than in other areas of the state. Learning what supported capacity-building in the Front Range will be important for building on successes.

Figure 4 Average Number of Clients per Quarter by Service Category, 2015-2019
Figure 5 Funding Impact on Increasing Versus Maintaining Services

Despite the capacity building documented in both evaluations, stresses and strains on agencies also increased over time, likely due to the high demand for victim services. For example, program and executive directors were near unanimous in their views that VOCA funds allowed their agencies to increase services when interviewed in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 (T1 and T2 in Figure 3). By Fall 2019, however, many agencies seemed to be at their maximum capacity, using VOCA funds to maintain rather than expand services (Figure 5).

Similarly, VOCA funds were initially seen as helping agencies increase collaboration, though this dropped over by Fall 2019. Program directors’ descriptions were consistent with evidence from the mapping evaluation that capacity building was not distributed equally across the state (Figure 6).

 Figure 6 Changes in Clients Served from 2015 to 2019

Special Projects

In addition to grant administration, the Office for Victims Programs (OVP) conducts a series of special projects designed to provide support for services to victims of crime. Click on a collapsible text box to learn more about a statewide special project.

Colorado Civil Justice Corps (CCJC) Fellowship
Extraordinary VOCA Funding Opportunity

This project aims to provide funding to agencies with new initiatives to serve various underserved/marginalized communities, statewide public awareness campaigns, or mass tragedy response planning projects.   The awards for these projects ends on December 31, 2020.

Civil Legal Services for Crime Victims

Lawyers for Victims Project
This special project aims to increase the continuum of services for a variety of civil legal service needs of crime victims. For an introduction to the project view the the Introductory Webinar,(MP4) or Introductory Presentation (PDF). For project updates, visit the DCJ Grants Calendar.

GIS Research Project
As part of the work of this Special Project, GIS Researcher Susan Buckingham mapped a variety of data points/factors for the state of Colorado. While the Project was initiated to support the work of the Special Project, these maps can be applied more broadly as programs seek to not only identify the characteristics of their communities’ crime victims but to then use the data to tailor their services to meet their communities’ specific needs. The Map Book is broken down into 9 regions and is further broken down by the variable. In addition, Ms. Buckingham created the Economic and Social Vulnerability Composite Models and the Colorado Self Sufficiency Standard Index (PDF).  If you have questions about the maps, please contact OVP.

Program Evaluation and Insights Final Report
The intent of the Lawyers for Victims expansion grant was to determine whether a flat-fee model of providing unbundled civil legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking could work in a variety of settings for these and other types of crime victims.  Ultimately, the initiative created by Project Safeguard and further implemented at four project sites in other areas of Colorado helped crime victims feel safer, increased access to direct representation and supportive services, and cultivated a pool of trauma-informed attorneys. Full Report:  Lawyers for Victims Expansion Program Evaluation and Insights Final Report May 2017 - December 2018

This project was supported by Award No.2015-VA-GX-0040 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Department of Justice, through the Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department of Public Safety.

Housing for Crime Victims

This special project aimed to address and implement new, innovative methods of housing provision for crime victims across the state.

Full Final Report:  2019 Colorado Housing for Crime Victims Special Project 

Emergency Funds for Crime Victims

This project aims to increase accessibility of emergency funds for crime victims in Colorado. Learn more: VOCA Emergency Fund project