Sacramento, CA — When the turmoil and chaos of a mass shooting subsides, surviving victims and their loved ones continue to face the pain, frustration and anguish of the crime’s aftermath. Initially, there may be lengthy hospital stays and funeral costs to handle. There may be court visits, counseling appointments, and trips to the dentist, doctor and police station — all within the work week. The bills for these expensive services start rolling in leaving victims feeling overwhelmed and drowning in debt.
This is the time the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (Board) steps in, helping victims pay for numerous expenses that add up after a tragedy such as the massacre at the San Bernardino county government holiday party last week.
Established in 1965, the Board’s Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) works behind the scenes to help victims of violent crime pay for services. It is the largest such program in the nation. In addition to staff in Sacramento, the Board has claims processors located throughout the state working side-by-side with victim advocates and service providers.
“It is an extremely traumatic time,” said Julie Nauman, Executive Officer of the Board. “On top of their grief, victims face an extraordinary amount of paperwork and bills. We are here to help ease that burden, offering victims the financial help they need to move on with their lives.”
CalVCP assists victims of all violent crime in California including close family members who were impacted by the crime. Compensation pays for a variety of bills that surface after violent crimes, including medical expenses, funeral and burial services, mental health and income loss.
In January, a new law will provide increased compensation for funeral expenses and crime scene cleanup. Online Harassment will also be added as a new crime category.
In regard to the San Bernardino tragedy, claims processing is being streamlined and expedited to better meet the needs of victims. CalVCP staff are working continuously with their counterparts at the San Bernardino County Bureau of Victim Services and local law enforcement to process all claims filed.
“Our main goal is to make the process as smooth as possible for those affected by this terrible tragedy,” said Michael Ramos, San Bernardino County District Attorney and 11-year member of the Board. “While we cannot make the pain and heartache go away, we can help minimize the burdens that lie before them.”
The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) provides compensation for victims of violent crime who are injured or threatened with injury. Among the crimes covered are domestic violence, child abuse, sexual and physical assault, homicide, robbery, and vehicular manslaughter.
If a person meets eligibility criteria, CalVCP will compensate many types of services when the costs are not covered by other sources. Eligible services include medical and dental care, mental health services, income loss, funeral expenses, rehabilitation and relocation. Funding for CalVCP comes from restitution fines and orders, penalty assessments levied on persons convicted of crimes and traffic offenses, and matching federal funds.
For more information about victims’ rights and services, visit the CalVCP website at CalVCP.ca.gov.