Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,500,000)
ADVANCING THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST VICTIMS OF CRIME
STRONGHEARTS NATIVE HELPLINE
StrongHearts Native Helpline is submitting this application to continue the work started with a grant award to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC). NIWRC is one of StrongHearts’ parent organizations, and received the previous award as a fiscal sponsor of StrongHearts. StrongHearts has since received non-profit status through the IRS and thus is submitting this application as a newly formed 501c3 organization.
American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations suffer from the highest rates of violence across the United States. In response to those high rates, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) and the NIWRC began discussions on how to increase services to our relatives.
StrongHearts Native Helpline launched in March 2017, after five years of discussion, planning and organizing. Through StrongHearts, Native callers can connect at no cost, one-on-one, with a knowledgeable StrongHearts advocate with a strong understanding of Native cultures as well as issues of tribal sovereignty and law. Services are culturally appropriate and Native-centered, anonymous and confidential. Highly trained advocates provide immediate support, crisis intervention, safety planning and referrals to culturally appropriate services.
As a pilot project of NDVH and NIWRC, StrongHearts had limited hours of operation, providing services Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM CST. In the first two years, StrongHearts received more than 2,140 calls; however 864 (40%) of those calls were received during non-operational hours. In March 2019, we were able to increase our hours to 7 days a week, 7:00AM - 10:00PM. For the three-month period since increasing our hours, we have received 1,446 calls with 256 (18%) coming in during non-operational hours. As a result of the increase in operational hours, we were able to reduce our missed calls substantially.
NIWRC received an award to increase staffing and enhance operations in 2019 which enabled StrongHearts to extend operational hours to 24/7. The grant also provided the means to establish chat or digital services for those contacts who may not have had access to phone services for various reasons (technology, being overheard by a partner, etc, phone service). These enhancements ensure that our contacts have access to culturally appropriate, Native centered services at all hours of the day using a variety of contact platforms.
This application will support continued employment for 6 advocates who assist contacts with processing their experiences, planning for safety and connecting with local service providers for longer term, ongoing support. This application will also support the development of outreach materials and resources, including webinars, for service providers, criminal justice stakeholders and contacts.