Grant Funding Strategies for Child Advocacy Centers

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Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) provide great services to children who have been victimized. They provide a central focal point for counselors, advocates, medics, and law enforcement. CACs are a vital part of the social safety net. They rely on funding via grants mainly from three sources: the federal government, state governments, and private foundations. Funding to all 777 CACs in the United States amounted to $456 million in total in 2017. No CAC relies solely on government funding.  The amount of funds awarded via federal grants varies widely.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offer federal grants through different programs for CACs. Funding is subject to annual federal appropriations and changes to legislation can often be drastic. In recent years, CACs, like many other domestic programs, has seen the amount of available federal funding steadily decline. However, receiving federal funding can lead to matching funds from other sources eager to fund a viable organization and thus serve as a basis for further funds.

Federal grants are often awarded to state governments who subsequently award grants to the individual CACs. In addition, the National Children’s Alliance, the trade association for CACs, also awards grants to CACs. Funding received from a grant must be used for its intended purpose. All grant applications must be submitted by a strict deadline.

There are a number of federal grants made to states available to CACs. States have wide latitude and discretion over the distribution of federal grants.  Examples include funds from the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

The DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs (OJJDP) administer the majority of available grants, including subgrants received via the NCA which are in turn given to states. OVC administers grants through the federal VOCA and the state’s Criminal Justice Improvement account, both of which are funded through fines, fees, and surcharges paid by certain offenders after conviction in state or federal court. VOCA provide funds to services provided to victims as well as compensation.

The federal grant funding process itself is very complex. The preliminary steps include:

  1.                  Funding Opportunity Announcement
  2.                  Application Review Process
  3.                  Funding Opportunity Announcement

Agencies announce Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) based on the related legislation and their budget. FOA includes all the information for an applicant to assess their eligibility for grants. Applicants can search on Grants.gov for opportunities. To be eligible you must register on the site and go through the process. It is a time-consuming process that must be completed prior to completing the application.

The application process itself is lengthy. The purpose of the grant must be described in detail. Every grant has its own specific requirements that must be adhered to. The application is sent through Grants.gov. It includes:

  1. Information to Complete the Application for Federal Assistance
  2. A Statement Regarding Use of Administrative and Training Funds
  3. Certification of State Eligibility Requirements Statement
  4. A Statement Regarding Collecting the Data Required for This Solicitation Performance Measures
  5. Financial Management and System of Internal Controls Questionnaire (including applicant disclosure of high-risk status)
  6. Applicant Disclosure of Pending Applications
  7. Disclosure of Lobbying Activities
  8. Statement Regarding Plan To Subgrant Funds
  9. List of Staff Positions Paid With VOCA Victim Assistance Administrative Funds
  10. Information on Proposed Subawards (if any), and on Proposed Procurement Contracts (if any
  11. Monitoring of Subawards
  12. Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (if applicable)

After submission, applications are reviewed in the following manner:

  1.                  Initial screening to ensure the application is complete
  2.                  Programmatic review and assessment of the substance of the applications
  3.                  Financial review of proposed budgets
  4.                  Award decision and announcement
  5.                  Initial Screening of Application

Grants exclusively available on the state level can be found on Grantwatch.com. Currently, 32 states have passed legislation regarding CAC funding. States administer grants based on both the general revenue the state receives through the usual means of taxation and special revenue that is funded via fees and penalties of convicted criminals. These funds are usually administered via an Office of Victim Services.

Twelve states have dedicated special revenue to CAC funding. They are available through a variety of agencies including Departments of Health, Attorneys General, Health and Human Services, and Departments of Children’s Services, and local law enforcement.