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2023 Report to the Nation

Fiscal Years 2021 - 2022

Increasing Access and Equity

Many victims of crime—particularly those in underserved communities—experience barriers that prevent them from accessing critical services and, in some cases, may not even be aware that help is available. A priority for OVC is to ensure access to victim assistance and compensation services for all people who experience victimization and to provide multiple avenues for help, because we know that every experience is unique, and that one approach does not fit all. The following programs and initiatives intend to expand access to services and ensure equity and inclusion for all.

OVC Communities of Color Working Group

The OVC Communities of Color Working Group (COCWG) is committed to supporting and empowering communities of color and racial or ethnic groups that have historically faced disparate treatment in the provision of, outcomes from, or access to social services in the United States. This is in furtherance of OVC’s mission and the White House Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities. In FYs 2021 and 2022, OVC’s COCWG—

  • invited a variety of stakeholders in the victim services field to present to OVC staff on cross-cutting efforts to address challenges and enhance racial equity.
  • hosted a listening session to hear how OVC can better engage with community-based organizations that provide services for victims of crime who live and work in historically underserved areas.
  • hosted a webinar to encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds and regions, who have experience in the victim services field, to become an OVC peer reviewer based on feedback provided during the listening session.
  • consulted on performance measurement and solicitation enhancements.
  • participated in multiple interagency working groups, including the White House Interagency Working Group on Safety, Opportunity and Inclusion of Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals, and the Equitable Data Working Group.
  • developed OVC’s FY 2021 National Center for Culturally Responsive Victim Services program. Under this program, Ujima: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, in partnership with The National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, established The National Center that facilitates the delivery of high-quality training and technical assistance to increase access to victim services and victim compensation for victims of crime who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by inequality.
  • conceptualized a fellowship opportunity in which a Fellow would act as a liaison between OVC and the National Center for Culturally Responsive Victim Services to further OVC’s goals of increasing the capacity of culturally responsive victim services, improving communication and collaborations between culturally specific victim-serving organizations and OVC, and addressing inequities in crime victim services.

Community Violence Intervention

In FY 2022, OVC joined the Bureau of Justice Assistance, National Institute of Justice, and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in a collaborative approach to help ensure jurisdictions have access to expertise and resources to address community violence through the Community Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative.

This initiative seeks to prevent and reduce violent crime in communities by supporting comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs based on partnerships among community residents, local government agencies, victim service providers, community-based organizations, law enforcement, hospitals, researchers, and other community stakeholders. Through this initiative, OVC awarded more than $11.7 million to the following six programs:

  • The Black Mental Health Alliance will use credible messengers to engage residents in Baltimore City’s hotspots for violent crime to offer violence prevention messaging, violence intervention, mental health services, youth entrepreneurship training, and case management to decrease violence and crime.
  • Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) plans to provide violence intervention and prevention services to the Bay Area of California, including gun, gang and gender-based violence prevention and response; community healing and restorative justice programs; and cognitive behavioral interventions through the Center of Excellence: Trauma Informed Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative.
  • The Harris County, Texas, Public Health Department’s Community Health and Violence Prevention Services (CHVPS) will expand the ACCESS Harris initiative to allow for additional community and hospital program staff to be hired, and for more targeted risk assessment based, coordinated care plans.
  • Jersey Shore University Medical Center at Hackensack Meridian Health seeks to expand and enhance the program offerings of its hospital-based violence intervention program (Project HEAL) and community-based violence intervention program (Elevate, established in 2022).
  • The Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department’s Aim4Peace Program (A4P), modeled after the Cure Violence program, aims to remove barriers to access and opportunity for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities served.
  • Council Against Youth Violence (CAYV) plans to streamline services to victims through effective case management; coordinate services across multiple providers; enhance the safety of at-risk youth and youth victims; reduce their risk of victimization and revictimization; and increase understanding of community violence and its effects to promote trauma-informed responses and interventions among youth-serving professionals.

Since FY 2018, under the Advancing Hospital-Based Victim Services program, OVC has made 17 awards totaling more than $13 million to implement and expand hospital-based and affiliated programs to support crime victims using evidence-based models and practices with victim-centered approaches. This program ensures that trained victim service providers are on hand in hospital emergency rooms to connect victims of violence in underserved communities with the services and support needed to aid in their healing. OVC is funding The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention to support the violence intervention programs connected to this initiative and promote equity for victims of violence.

Demonstration sites provided 96 trainings for 1,736 participants and completed 226 technical assistance requests for 724 recipients in FY 2021. These evidence-based practices included the Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program (HVIP) model; cognitive-processing therapy for female victims of sexual assault; advocacy interventions for women who experience intimate partner violence; and the patient-reported outcomes measurement information system. During the same time period, the demonstration sites implemented 125 improvement initiatives and completed 68 project deliverables.

A total of 4,321 victims (new and returning) were served. Of those, 2,212 unique victims received services for the first time. The most common types of victimization included adult physical assault; bullying; child sexual abuse or assault; and survivors of homicide. Frequently provided services included individual advocacy (13,736 occurrences); referrals to other services, supports, and resources (2,026 occurrences); and crisis intervention (1,143 occurrences).

Bridging the Gap

OVC is working to facilitate more comprehensive services for survivors of crime who are underserved or are part of a marginalized community, such as those facing racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, disability, or age biases, and language or mobility access barriers. Some of the programs OVC has instituted to begin addressing these issues are described below.


Through the Increasing Options and Expanding Access for Victims of Crime program, OVC awarded $2,250,000 to three grantees to support activities related to expanding accessibility and increasing service options for victims of crime who are underserved or who are part of an underserved community.

  • Comprehensive Post-Conviction Victim Service Interventions: Healing Justice, with the National Crime Victim Law Institute and the National Organization for Victim Assistance, will focus on victims whose case convictions or sentences are being reconsidered post-conviction by specialized conviction or sentencing review units, to create a foundation for post-conviction victim service interventions.
  • Survivor-Defendant Diversion Programs: The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and an advisory group, will evaluate survivor-defendant diversion programs, which divert cases of defendants who are identified as prior gender-based violence survivors from the traditional prosecution track, and select prosecutor offices for the implementation of survivor-defendant diversion pilot programs for women of color who have a domestic violence associated incident or with a history of domestic violence, to offer them trauma informed comprehensive services.
  • Youth Advocacy Corps: The National Organization for Victim Assistance will stand up this Corps to develop a new generation of young advocates who both reflect the diversity of crime survivors and who are passionate and committed to meeting the needs of this moment and being the voices for change.

Enhancing Access to Victim Services

Victims of crime who have a disability or have limited English proficiency (LEP), are Deaf or hard-of-hearing, blind, or visually impaired may be unable to report crimes or access services due to physical and language barriers. These barriers can isolate victims and intensify their fear and distrust. The traumatic impact of being a victim of crime, when left unaddressed, often leads to long-term physical, emotional, social, and financial problems for victims. Survivors are more inclined to seek services from organizations operating within their community and from service providers who understand and are skilled at addressing the unique access challenges they face.

The criminal justice and victim services systems need to develop new partnerships that will enable them to serve a more diverse client base. Since FY 2018, OVC has funded 32 awards totaling approximately $9.6 million under 3 similarly named programs—the Enhancing Access to Services Program in FY 2018, the Enhancing Language and Other Access to Services program in FY 2019, and Enhancing Access to Victim Services in FY 2022. The goal of these programs is to improve and expand the availability of accessible victim-centered, trauma-informed services for crime victims who are disabled, Deaf, hard-of-hearing, limited English proficient, blind, or visually impaired. OVC expanded the program to included supporting victims with a disability in FY 2022.

In FY 2021 and 2022, these grantees served 61,325 victims of crime (both new and returning), with 15,410 individuals who received services for the first time. Domestic or family violence; adult physical assault; and survivors of homicide were identified as the most prominent victimization types. Law enforcement grantees provided services across all categories, with the most commonly requested services including referral to other services, supports, and resources (7,671); referral to other victim service programs (7,670); and individual counseling (207). Over the 2 years, an average of 48 partners were involved in the initiative each quarter.

Grantee organizations conducted 16 trainings for 35 participants in FYs 2021 and 2022. During this period, 41 technical assistance requests were completed that supported 31 technical assistance recipients. These grantees also implemented 11 improvement initiatives and completed 2 project deliverables.

Under the FY 2022 program, Activating Change, Inc., was awarded $1 million to serve as the TA provider for all the Enhancing Access grantees. In partnership with the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender Based Violence, Activating Change, Inc., will—

  • provide tailored technical assistance, among other resources and information.
  • develop and implement disability access plans and language access plans.
  • encourage cross-site learning exchanges.
  • promote promising practices and innovations for victims with disabilities and Deaf victims.

Each program funded in FY 2022 is providing quality, culturally responsive services for victims in one or more communities covered by the solicitation.

  • The International Rescue Committee, Inc., is using their funding to enhance their anti-trafficking efforts in the Seattle area by establishing an accessibility plan and boosting training on serving victims with disabilities.
  • Casaluz, the only organization serving LEP Hispanic/Lantinx victims in the Memphis/Shelby County area, is using their funding to support a bilingual/bicultural advocate and a bilingual/bicultural counselor and to collaborate with local law enforcement on community education efforts to provide trainings on Title VI, cultural sensitivity, and assisting LEP Hispanic/Latinx immigrant victims.
  • The City of Jacksonville is strengthening AccessJax (Advocating and Collaborating for Change through Empowerment, Safety, and Self-Determination), an effort launched with funding from the Office on Violence Against Women, by enhancing the capacity of participating partner agencies to serve victims who are Deaf or have a disability.
  • The LA Center for Law Justice is enriching supports available to immigrant victims with physical and mental health disabilities and those who are blind, Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or LEP by strengthening their referral networks, boosting staff training on serving these victims, and ensuring program materials are accessible.
  • Essex County Family Justice Center, Inc., is using a trauma-informed project team with bilingual civil legal advocates, a bilingual attorney, and, for the first time, a bilingual peer care manager, to expand services for LEP victims in Newark that represent the most at-risk survivors of domestic violence assault.
  • Clackamas Women’s Services in Oregon City, Oregon, is hiring two advocates, one of which is bilingual. The advocates will be housed at A Safe Place Family Justice Center to increase supports for victims who have a disability or are Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and LEP.
  • Florida Legal Services, Inc., is expanding access to victim-centered, trauma-informed, linguistically, and culturally appropriate civil legal assistance to LEP Haitian crime victims through outreach to existing Haitian community organizations, training victim service providers on culturally relevant approaches to serving Haitian victims, and funding two bilingual attorneys to provide legal assistance to victims.
  • Sojourner House, Inc., is increasing the availability of accessible victim-centered, trauma-informed services for Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals in Rhode Island who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
  • Safe Alliance Facilities Holdings is partnering with Imagine Art to train victims with disabilities in the Austin area to facilitate or co-facilitate peer-centered holistic healing groups with other survivors within existing community settings; provide culturally and linguistically appropriate advocacy and counseling services for Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or LEP victims; and train community stakeholders to provide trauma-informed responses for these victims.
  • Willow Domestic Violence Center of Greater Rochester, Inc., which hosts the region’s only Deaf-led and Deaf-specific services for survivors of domestic violence through the Deaf IGNITE program, is bolstering access to services for Deaf victims of domestic violence/sexual assault by increasing crisis team staffing, updating agency accessibility plans, and educating stakeholders on best practices for serving Deaf victims.

Civil Legal Representation

Victimization can create myriad civil legal problems and intensify pre-existing challenges faced by victims and their families. Without legal representation, these complex legal issues can be overwhelming for victims of crime to navigate alone. In FY 2022, OVC awarded $5 million to Equal Justice Works through the Legal Services and Victims’ Rights Enforcement for Underserved Communities program to mobilize a cohort of 21 attorney Fellows and law students to be hosted by organizations located in underserved communities across the Nation, to provide civil legal services to victims of crime, and to enforce their rights.

The Crime Victims Advocacy Program will also include a cohort of 21 summer law student Fellows who will support the work of attorney Fellows. Intensive training and technical assistance will be provided to the legal fellows to expand their knowledge on legal issues and victims’ rights enforcement and create opportunities for peer learning. The fellowships are scheduled to begin in the summer of 2023.

National Center for Culturally Responsive Victim Services

In FY 2021, OVC awarded funding to create the National Center for Culturally Responsive Victim Services. The center, managed by Ujima: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, in partnership with the National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, facilitates the delivery of high-quality training and technical assistance to increase access to victim services and victim compensation for victims of crime who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by inequality.

Culturally specific organizations developed by and for communities of color continue to be under-resourced at the federal, state, and local level. Additionally, the center has found that victims and survivors of crime from vulnerable communities are often unaware of the resources available through their state VOCA compensation and assistance programs. These two issues are often linked because states and local governments are unaware of or not in touch with the organizations that have a documented history of serving the most vulnerable communities. This lack of engagement with culturally specific organizations results in policies and crime prevention strategies that do not address the realities of those who are most impacted by crime and resources that do not reach those victims who are most in need of support.

In FY 2022, OVC provided supplemental funding to the center to begin addressing these barriers by developing a microgrant program aimed at supporting the capacity of these culturally specific organizations. The center will also begin hosting Knowledge Institutes to help culturally specific organizations build community, increase support for these organizations, and provide other technical assistance opportunities to enhance services for the communities they serve. 

State Victim Liaisons

OVC implemented the State Victim Liaison Project in FY 2020 to identify gaps in victim services and increase access to resources for crime victims in rural/Tribal areas, older victims, and victims of violent crime. Crime victim liaisons were placed in 10 VOCA SAAs to act as a bridge between the state and other state-based nongovernmental organizations to identify gaps in victim services and improve access to resources for these victims. The liaisons use their statewide networking connections to facilitate effective interactions with community leaders, allied professionals, and community stakeholders to achieve the objectives of this project.

In FY 2021 and 2022, demonstration sites averaged 258 partners per quarter, and an average of 50 partners per quarter used evidence-based practices. These evidence-based practices included trauma-informed care and practices; evidence-based case management; cognitive behavioral therapy; and peer mentoring. During the same time period, the demonstration sites implemented 284 improvement initiatives and completed 124 project deliverables.

Criminal Justice System-Related Harm

When someone has suffered harm due to a criminal justice system error or failure, harmed individuals may never receive the care they need, exacerbating the trauma they experienced, losing the opportunity to fully recover, and potentially contributing to an ongoing cycle of generational trauma. In FY 2022, OVC awarded nearly $300,000 to the New York City Criminal Justice Agency (CJA) through the Developing Greater Understanding of the Needs of and Resources for Victims of Criminal Justice System-Related Harm program.

CJA will use the funding to learn more about the experiences and service needs of individuals who are detained during pretrial but ultimately have their cases dismissed or acquitted. This is a unique group of individuals who, despite the experience of trauma and harms associated with pretrial detention, are likely not considered under the traditional “victim” umbrella given their involvement in the criminal legal system via arrest and pretrial detention.

Support for Victims of Hate Crimes

In FY 2021, OVC awarded $2 million to Futures Without Violence (Futures) to partner with community-based organizations throughout the country to implement field-generated, culturally responsive projects to address hate crimes in underserved communities. Futures competitively selected 12 projects in 10 states and the District of Columbia to serve and support victims of hate crime in their communities by promoting awareness, healing, and reconciliation; increasing service access; and developing resources.

Direct and indirect services include holistic health and wellness, community awareness, policy advocacy, community healing, education, online tools and resource mapping, among others. The projects encompass several identities including youth; Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander; Asian women; and African American, Arab, Hmong, Latinx, youth, and Trans individuals.

For additional resources and information on hate and bias crimes, visit the OVC website.