Office for Victims of Crime Director Jessica E. Hart visited Austin, Texas on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, to hear from the field and announce grant awards to national and state programs.
Director Hart began her day with a tour of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The Hotline, funded in part by the Office for Victims of Crime, operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has handled more than 5 million phone calls and chats over its history.
Director Hart then joined the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Governor Greg Abbott’s office, Texas Council on Family Violence, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, SAFE Alliance, Family Crisis Center, and Asian Family Support Services for a roundtable discussion on the impact of the pandemic on serving victims of domestic violence.
During the roundtable, Director Hart announced that the National Domestic Violence Hotline received $1.5 million under the Office for Victims of Crime Fiscal Year 2020 Advancing the Use of Technology to Assist Victims of Crime program to enhance and expand their digital services. “This is important work and will go a long way to ensuring the safety of domestic violence victims nationwide,” said Director Hart of the Hotline award.
Director Hart also announced approximately $163 million to the state of Texas to provide victim assistance and compensation. This funding will go to support local responses to domestic abuse, including funding shelters, coalitions, positions within law enforcement agencies, therapy, civil legal services, Family Justice Centers, court advocates, domestic violence forensic interviewers, and relocation, housing, and transportation expenses.
Following the roundtable, Director Hart met with Office of the Governor Greg Abbott, including Aimee Snoddy, Jeff Oldham, and Andrea Sparks from the Child Sex Trafficking Team, to discuss how this team coordinates efforts across Texas to serve child sex trafficking victims.
Director Hart also toured the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, Inc., an organization that represents 71 local centers serving children throughout Texas and, after her tour, she met with Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas leadership to discuss the effects of the pandemic, reporting trends for child abuse cases, and how VOCA funding has helped them to help more children and families.