Legislation NCA Supports
NCA is committed to supporting its members at every level, including legislative advocacy efforts to support the work that we do and the children we serve.
NCA’s federal policy priorities are:
- Supporting the work of CACs – and demonstrating Congressional support for these vital services – through full funding of the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
Ensuring that abused children receive the services they need through increasing funding for the Victims of Crime Act (Crime Victims Fund).
Supporting the work of CACs by ensuring that CACs have the support and resources they need to serve victims of human trafficking by bringing attention to the issue on a national level.
Supporting legislation to not only better protect against child abuse, but to also provide needed trauma-informed care for children exposed to violence.
Legislation NCA currently supports includes:
Victims of Child Abuse Act
FY17 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill
Two years ago, NCA worked closely with our CAC champions in Congress to reauthorize the Victims of Child Abuse Act, making current our federal funding through 2018. Passing this reauthorization was critical because it reinforced Congress’ commitment to CACs. This year, we will continue working with our congressional supporters to fully fund the Victims of Child Abuse Act in the FY17 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill.
Victims of Crime Act – (Crime Victims' Fund) and CACs
Congress created the Crime Victims Fund in 1984 based on a simple idea: money the government collects from those who commit crimes should be used to help those victimized by crime. Each year, criminal fines and penalties collected in federal court are deposited into the Crime Victims Fund. The Department of Justice disburses money from this Fund to States and other entities to support victim compensation and assistance programs.
In 2000, Congress passed a law capping disbursements from the CVF. The original intent was to prevent fluctuations in disbursements. However, from FY2000 – FY 2014, the caps were set too low; deposits skyrocketed while disbursements remained almost flat. For example, from fiscal year 2010 through fiscal year 2014, $12 billion was deposited into the fund, but only $3.6 billion was disbursed.
Over the past three years, NCA has worked closely with numerous Senate and House offices, as well as our fellow victims' advocates, on possible funding and legislative solutions that not only provide greater access to CVF resources to ensure critical funding for victims services, but also to update and expand the services eligible for VOCA funding in DOJ’s VOCA guidelines. We have been and continue to be excited with the energy, effort and support from Senators and Representatives who are also committed to finding a solution.
And the results:
- Congress released $2.36 billion from the Fund in the FY15 Omnibus Appropriations, effectively $2.66 billion in the FY16 Omnibus Appropriations, and it is anticipated that similar levels will again be released in FY17.
- DOJ finalized and published its Updated VOCA Victims Assistance Rule as well as specifically clarified to a bipartisan senate letter that the updated VOCA rule was not needed for VOCA dollars to pay for forensic interviews. (link to senate letter and DOJ response.)
With the letter clarification and the new VOCA rule, DOJ now expressly allows VOCA to pay for forensic interviews and a coordination of services, such as MDT case review. The Rule also restates that VOCA can fund forensic medical exams, mental health therapy and relocation expenses, among other things. Still yet, the Rule updates the definition of child abuse to include CSEC/trafficking as a form of child abuse, and highlights several areas of allowable VOCA funding that can address many of the unmet needs in serving CSEC cases. More information on the Updated VOCA Rule for all victims of crime
It is important to note that DOJ still allows for State VOCA Administrator’s to take a stricter interpretation of the Rule and doesn’t specifically require using VOCA to fund services such as forensic interviews. But OVC’s clearly stated belief that forensic interviews are not only an investigative tool but also a key to victims services is a great starting point in any conversation with State VOCA Administrators that are still not sure it should be covered. Even more, State VOCA Administrators have been very receptive to what this Rule means for CACs.
These changes have made a significant impact to the CAC movement, but more is still needed. You can help NCA's continued VOCA advocacy efforts by calling or emailing your Senator or U.S. House Member and ask him or her to:
- Support annually releasing at least $2 billion from the Crime Victims' Fund to support victim-serving agencies like CACs.
- Support and co-sponsor legislative efforts that further o overhaul the Victims of Crime Act/Crime Victims Fund.
- For more information on specific VOCA legislative proposals and proposed DOJ updates, contact Denise Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Materials for VOCA:
Child Sex Trafficking
On May 29, 2015, President Obama signed into law P.L. 114-22, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA). This new law provides a comprehensive approach to trafficking by not only going after the traffickers and the buyers, but also in providing services to victims. Even more, this bill sets aside $2 million for CACs to develop trafficking programs within CACs to better serve as first-responders for these victims.
We want to thank Senators John Cornyn and Amy Klobuchar, and Representatives Ted Poe and Carolyn Maloney for their leadership in getting this bill introduced, passed and signed into law. Their commitment to protecting children, especially trafficking victims, continued to raise awareness that child sex trafficking is not just a problem in other countries, but a real problem right here at home. We also want to thank Stephen Tausend of Sen. Cornyn’s staff and Blair Bjellos with Rep. Poe for their continued commitment to getting a bill passed. Still yet, we want to thank NCA’s advocacy partners on this bill, especially Human Rights 4 Girls, Shared Hope International, ECPAT-USA, CATW and the National Association to PROTECT Children. This was a collaborative effort, with each of us bringing a critical role to the issue!
Finally, we want to thank and congratulate all of you for your tireless advocacy with your senators and representatives in asking for their support of JVTA. Your continued outreach with Members reinforced the message NCA championed with the advocates as we pushed for this bill – that CACs are first responders and have a critical role in providing services and healing to this victims, but we need the resources to do it!
Other Bills NCA is actively supporting:
- Leahy-Collins Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S 262) – This bill reauthorizes programs helping you and provides needed resources to train service providers to identify victims of trafficking. NCA support and urges passage of S 262.
- Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015 (S. 1169) – This much needed reauthorization ensures that at-risk youth are fairly and effectively served by juvenile justice grant programs. We not only applaud the bipartisan support work of the bills champions to make these programs current, but also in recognizing that the trauma-informed continuum of services must include services for children exposed to violence.
- Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act or the Federal Erin’s Law (S. 1665/H.R. 3067) – This bill federally funds school programs that provide age-appropriate lessons to primary and secondary school students on how to recognize and safely report sexual abuse. Twenty-six states have passed a version of “Erin’s Law,” legislation that requires public schools to provide child sexual abuse prevention education to students and professional development for school personnel.
- Children’s Recovery from Trauma Act/NCTSN Reauthorization (S.1494/H.R. 2632) – This bill reauthorizes and strengthens the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), a national network of child trauma centers that works with children and families who are exposed to a wide range of traumatic experiences.