Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $300,000)
When a child is abducted from the U.S. by a parent or family member, there may be civil and criminal remedies available to victims who are seeking to legally recover their children from a foreign country. Those remedies can be complex and costly given the interaction often needed with foreign courts and attorneys, further exacerbating the impact of this crime on families. Parents who may already be seriously challenged by a lack of resources, because of protracted searches, could not be able to afford to go to a foreign country for critical legal proceedings and/or to be reunited with and bring home their recovered children.
The Victim Reunification Travel Program serves crime victims by supporting parents and guardians of abducted children from the U.S., to participate in international proceedings or related recovery events, which can lead to access, reunification, and return of their children to the U.S.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® (NCMEC) has managed this program on behalf of the Office for Victims of Crime since the agreement was publicly announced October 10, 1996. NCMEC receives and processes requests from eligible victim parents, then submits written requests to the Office for Victims of Crime for funds to provide needed services to those victims of international parental kidnapping. The requests are consistent with the guidelines established for this program and may include collaboration with the U.S. Department of State.
Once a family is granted a Victim Reunification Travel award, that family’s case is managed by NCMEC and trip monitoring and travel assistance services are provided. In addition, this program supports the work of mental health professionals engaged to facilitate a family’s reunification process and help mitigate the family’s shared trauma.
As a direct result of this program, families not otherwise able to afford to do so, are able to travel to a foreign country to reunite with their abducted child or participate in legal proceedings in hopes of supporting a return of the children to the U.S.