Tuesday, December 12, 2023

UNC Assessment Will Guide State’s Response to Reduced Federal Funding for Crime Victim Services

Governor’s Crime Commission must make ‘tough decisions’ if funding falls to a projected $23M
Dec 12, 2023

The Governor’s Crime Commission on Thursday heard the results of a statewide crime victim needs assessment conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The assessment, originally funded to help commissioners steer an increase in federal Victim of Crime Act funding, will now shape North Carolina’s response to a nationwide reduction of VOCA funds.

In 2018, North Carolina received $103 million in VOCA funding. In 2024, the state is projected to receive just $23 million – a pinch that will be felt in domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers and other victim services centers funded by VOCA dollars.

An interdisciplinary group of UNC researchers led the assessment in partnership with a 19-member Community Advisory Board. 

“We completed the first statewide and community-engaged needs assessment for crime victim services,” said Tonya Van Deinse, principal investigator with the UNC School of Social Work. “This assessment helped us identify underserved populations and significant barriers to accessing services that we believe can be overcome through thoughtful planning, training and, of course, funding of services.”

The GCC’s Victim Services Committee will rely on the assessment as it evaluates the next cycle of grant applications, said Caroline Farmer, executive director of the Governor’s Crime Commission. 

“Commissioners evaluate many worthy applications from organizations that support some of our state’s most vulnerable populations,” Farmer said. “We funded this research because we wanted commissioners to be able to make data-informed decisions about the distribution of VOCA funds. We are grateful to have this report in hand as the commission prepares for the tough funding decisions ahead.”

The report gives these key recommendations:
•    Establish a representative group to review the study’s findings and develop an action plan.
•    Implement and promote community-engaged approaches in all phases of funding.
•    Continue providing services that multiple stakeholders consider to be adequate.
•    Expand the list of priority populations and adopt the language and terms endorsed by the community advisory board.
•    Prioritize discretionary and competitive funding for initiatives that address barriers to accessing services.
•    Build communities’ trust in service providers and law enforcement.
•    Analyze contracts and applications for differences in applicants, scoring and funding based on priority populations and geography.
•    Expand resources for longer-term, discretionary and non-traditional support services.
•    Provide enhanced training for providers and law enforcement agencies on cultural humility, cultural responsiveness and trauma-informed approaches.
•    Support cross-training between traditional crime victim service sectors and culturally specific organizations.
•    Fund enhancements for communication and outreach.
•    Commit resources to address rural and regional disparities.

View the full report on the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission website.

About the Governor’s Crime Commission: The Governor’s Crime Commission serves as the chief advisory body to the Governor and to the Secretary of Public Safety on crime and justice issues. Commission Members include the heads of statewide criminal justice agencies, appointed state and local government officials, and private citizens. The commission also serves as the state administering agency designated to apply for federal criminal justice funding from the US Department of Justice on behalf of the State. These federal funds, along with state appropriated funds, are distributed to criminal justice agencies and non-profits through a process voted on annually by the Commission.

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