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
FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill
This year, we will continue working with our House and Senate champions to increase funding for the Victims of Child Abuse Act to $25 million in the Fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. We are also advocating for Congress to release as much as possible from the Crime Victims Fund.
Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization Act of 2018
Five years ago, NCA worked closely with our CAC champions in Congress, as well as the Regional CACs, NCAC and the DAs, to reauthorize the Victims of Child Abuse Act, making current our federal funding through 2018. Unanimously passing this reauthorization was critical because it reinforced Congress’ commitment to CACs and ensured we didn’t see cuts that other programs faced.
This year, we are again working with US Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Chris Coons (Del.), and US Representatives Ted Poe (Texas) and Jim Costa (Calif.) to pass the bipartisan Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization Act of 2018 (HR 5955/S 2961). This reauthorization effort updates the statute to better reflect how CACs are currently serving families, and increases the authorized funding level to $25 million. Increasing the federal funding level will provide a meaningful infusion of resources that can make an enormous impact on the children served by CACs every day.
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.
Over the past four years, NCA has worked closely with numerous Senate and House offices, as well as our fellow victims’ advocates, on funding and legislative solutions that not only provide CACs with greater access to VOCA resources to ensure critical funding for victims services, but also to update and expand the CAC 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, effectively $2.66 billion in FY16, $2.53 billion in FY17 and effectively $3.385 billion for FY18.
- 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.
- CAC VOCA funding has risen from $21 million in 2014 to $114 million in 2017 – and it continues to rise.
While the updated VOCA Rule has expanded the eligibility to include most services and functions of CACs, State VOCA Administrators are still allowed to take a stricter interpretation of the Rule. However, for those administrators taking a stricter approach, the updated VOCA Rule is a great starting point for any conversations with state officials.
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 as much as possible from the Crime Victims’ Fund to support victim-serving agencies like CACs.
- For more information on specific VOCA legislative proposals, contact Denise Edwards at email@example.com.
- For specific information on VOCA by state, contact Will Laird at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Child Sex Trafficking
NCA continues to work with fellow advocates trafficking legislation, most recently in supporting:
- The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA)/Abolish Human Trafficking Act
- The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act/Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (FOSTA/SESTA) – Fighting online child sex trafficking.
Other legislation NCA actively supports or helped pass:
The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act
This act requires amateur athletics governing bodies like USA Gymnastics and other amateur sports organizations to report sex-abuse allegations to local or federal law enforcement, or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department within 24 hours. Among other things, this new law also makes sure that all national governing bodies follow the strictest standards for child abuse prevention, detection, and investigation, makes it safe and easy for victims to report abuse and mandates oversight to ensure strong sexual-abuse prevention policies are implemented. Even more, this new law extends the statute of limitations. NCA worked closely with Senator Feinstein and other champions on this new law and will continue working with champions on implementation.
Family First Prevention Services Act
On February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the historic and bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act as a part of the bipartisan budget agreement. This landmark piece of legislation aims to help keep children safely with their families when they come to the attention of the child welfare system, and when placement in foster care is needed, it provides an assurance of quality care for children in the most family-like setting appropriate for their special needs.
What is so historic about Family First is that this new law provides targeted funding and support specifically for child abuse prevention. The goal is to keep children from ever having to enter into the child welfare system, so this law provides resources for prevention programs that aim to do just that. However, should children need the foster care system, this new law strengthens the programs available to ensure the best possible care for kids.
NCA worked with advocates to support passage of this new law and are excited to continue working on its implementation. We will keep you updated on the latest.
State Legislation NCA actively promotes
Statutory Definitions of Children’s Advocacy Centers
State statutes that clearly define Children’s Advocacy Centers and their role in the response to allegations of criminal child abuse, support the development of the MDT model, the expansion of services and the pursuit of resources to assure the success and long-term viability of the proven approach to providing justice and healing to child victims of abuse. The adoption of such legislation clearly conveys policy makers’ vision for, support of, and belief in the CAC/MDT model as the preferred response to allegations of abuse. This in-turn can provide surety to the child welfare and judicial system, victims and non-offending caregivers that their case is being handled in the most professional manner available. Furthermore, it lays a foundation whereby funders, both public and private, can be assured that their investment of resources will benefit their intended target.
State Funding Legislation for Children’s Advocacy Centers
A secure and stable source of core funding is essential to the long term viability of Children’s Advocacy Centers. While no source of funding is an absolute guarantee from year to year, some sources are more stable than others. Governmental funds dedicated to Children’s Advocacy Centers tend to be one of the more stable sources. Nationally approximately 33.8% of the dollars flowing to Children’s Advocacy Centers come at the discretion of state governments. The potential for growth in this area is tremendous considering that 11 states currently receive no state support and 7 receive very little (less than $240,000 with a low of 27,189.
Other State Legislation NCA Generally Supports
Statute of Limitations Reform
Research shows that the majority of victims of child sexual abuse do not disclose until adulthood, if ever. Narrow statutes of limitations can prevent the punishment of perpetrators, deny compensation to victims, and hinder the healing process. NCA generally supports legislation that eliminates or greatly extends statutes of limitations on crimes against children.
Abuse Prevention Education
NCA is generally in support of Child Sex Abuse Prevention Education laws that require age appropriate child sex abuse prevention education in schools for children, educators, and staff. This legislation is commonly referred to as Erin’s Law or Jenna’s Law.