From the Director's Desk, November 10, 2022
OVC Director Kristina Rose discusses National Native American Heritage Month, the 2023 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week theme, the release of revised Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance, the Crime Victims Fund and its current balance, and more.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the November 10th, installment of From the Director’s Desk. We’re glad that you are able join us today. All audio lines are muted, as this is a listen only briefing. For reference, this recording will be posted on Monday, November 14th to the OVC website.
At this time, it’s my pleasure to introduce Kristina Rose, OVC Director, for today’s briefing.
KRISTINA ROSE: Thank you so much Daryl.
Well, good afternoon, everyone. This is Kris. I’m the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime. And this is the third installment of From the Director’s Desk. Thank you so much for listening.
So November is National Native American Heritage Month. And in his proclamation, President Biden stated that “we must do more to ensure that Native Americans have every opportunity to succeed and that their expertise informs our Federal policy-making.” OVC has long recognized this truth and, at every opportunity, we engage with Tribal leaders and our partners in Tribal communities about the critical needs in victim services. In fact, just yesterday, we hosted a consultation with 185 Tribal leaders and Tribal community members about our FY 2023 Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside from the Crime Victims Fund. The consultation focused on continuing to reduce barriers in the application process; improving outcomes for renovation and construction projects; and strengthening services for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. We were honored by the candid and moving feedback that we received. For more information about Tribal Set-Aside awards, please visit the OVC website at ovc.ojp.gov.
Tribal grantees can reach out to our Tribal Financial Management Center for training, technical assistance, and resources to support American Indian and Alaska Native communities as they successfully manage the financial aspects of their federal awards. The TFMC can help with grant awar--grant award modifications, award conditions, and financial management capacity, among other services. And this is at no cost. So go to ojp.gov/TFMC if you're interested.
So this has been a pretty exciting week at OVC. I spent the morning with more than 50 of our federal partners that receive Victims of Crime Act or VOCA, as we call it, funding through interagency agreements with OVC. From the FBI and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, to the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Environmental Protection Agency, we spent the morning sharing information about lessons learned and promising practices in victim services, as well as discussing the sustainability of these programs. Out federal partners are using their VOCA funding to serve victims of federal crimes by hiring victim specialists; providing emergency services such as housing and transportation; conducting training and technical assistance; and responding to mass violence incidents within our communities.
We were also able to brief them on the solvency of the Crime Victims Fund, which is what I'd like to turn to next.
In September collections from deferred and nonprosecution cases, and remember those are the cases that we can now accept deposits from because of the VOCA Fix, they totaled $1.5 million from those specific cases and criminal deposits totaled $6.5 million for a total of $8 million. That's a significant decrease from the August deposits, which totaled $280 million. The current balance of the CVF is right about $1.5 billion, which includes all deposits and collections through the end of September. If the President's budget passed today with an obligation cap of $1.75 billion, the CVF would be in a $250 million deficit. Now that isn't the $450 to $650 million deficit we were preparing for; but, it is a deficit, nonetheless. Of course we aren't in this position yet, but we will continue to closely monitor the CVF to keep you apprised of the status, as always. October figures will be available soon on OVC's website and I'll report on them in the December briefing.
Turning to a webinar we held yesterday. OVC sponsored a webinar on Trauma-Informed Practices for Community Violence Intervention programs we call them CVI programs. And it was one in a series of OJP's Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative webinar series. We were just thrilled to be invited to be part of this series because we feel it's so important to ensure that victim-related issues are considered in conversation, and that those working in CVI understand why addressing trauma in the context of community violence intervention is such an important part of the overall strategy. The webinar featured a wide variety of terrific guest speakers who shared their thoughts on trauma-informed approaches like hospital-based victim services, trauma recovery centers, and programs that use credible messengers in the community, so that they can liaise with victims and surviving family members. The webinar will soon be available on OJP's website at ojp.gov.
I have a few more things I want to mention before we close. First, I hope everyone received the OVC notification last week about the 2023 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week theme. It is Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change. This theme aligns with OVC's efforts to ensure survivor voices are heard and considered whenever decisions are being made that could impact them. That includes upholding the victims’ right to an impact statement during sentencing, engaging survivors in criminal justice reform conversations, as well as ensuring victims in underserved communities have access to all services. By engaging survivors, we can develop services that are credible, meaningful, and centered on their individual needs. More information about the artwork and the Resource Guide for NCVRW is forthcoming.
Now if you're interested in hosting your own public awareness events for NCVRW you should consider applying for our Community Awareness Project grants. Those are administered by the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators. Up to $5,000 is available to pay for NCVRW outreach programs, giveaways, speakers, and other awareness materials for your community events. So those applications are due November 18th and you can visit the website CAP -- cap.navaa.org to apply.
Second, the revised Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance were released on October 21st. The updated guidelines take into consideration the importance of recognizing harm and cyber intrusion crimes; greater protections on disclosure of personal identifiable information; and the Department's commitment to mandatory initial and annual training on these issues, as well as on the Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act and the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. You can find the revised guidelines on DOJ's website at justice.gov.
Third, and if you haven't already, please register for the 17th National Indian Nations Conference, which is scheduled for December 6th through 9th at Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation in Palm Springs. With over 1,200 people registered so far, this is going to be an amazing opportunity for networking and learning how we can best support victim services in Tribal communities. Details for this event are available on our website. And I'll be conducting December’s From the Director’s Desk briefing from the conference in Palm Springs. So I'll be able to share some highlights with you from there.
Next week I'm going to be at the Annual Summit for the VOCA State Administering Agencies in Savannah, GA. And a few days later, I'll be presenting on a panel with my fellow OJP directors at the American Society of Criminology Conference in Atlanta.
So if you believe that there's something we can do to improve on these briefings or if there's anything you'd like me to cover during these calls, please don't hesitate to email us at [email protected].
Thank you so much for joining me today. And thank you for what each of you do every day to help crime survivors find their justice.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.