From the Director's Desk, December 8, 2022
OVC Director Kristina Rose discusses the 17th National Indian Nations Conference, the release of new materials to support child victims and witnesses in Tribal communities, the status of the Crime Victims Fund, and the U.S. Department of Justice Program Plan outlining funding opportunities for FY 2023, and more.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the December 8th, 2022 installment of From the Director’s Desk. We are glad that you’re able join us today. All audio lines are muted, as this is a listen only briefing. For reference, this recording will be posted to the OVC website tomorrow.
At this time, it’s my pleasure to introduce Kristina Rose, OVC Director, for today’s briefing.
KRISTINA ROSE: Thank you so much, Daryl.
Good afternoon, everyone. I’m joining you today from the 17th National Indian Nations Conference at the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation in Palm Springs, CA. It's the first time that we've had this conference in 4 years. And what a wonderful response we received; nearly 1,700 people registered for in-person attendance and about 200 have joined us virtually. If you hear a little background noise, that's just because we are in the middle of all of the action here at the conference.
The opening ceremony, on Tuesday afternoon was just outstanding. We were honored to hear from a number of inspirational and talented Tribal leaders, including Chairman Reid Milanovich from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and Chief Arvol Looking Horse, who provided the opening prayer and performed a releasing of the spirit ceremony. We heard beautiful music numbers from the Bird Singers and Kelly Jackson sang the National Anthem, and she provided a spoken word and musical presentation this morning on the reality of Indian boarding schools for children in the U.S. It was really moving. Jeremy NeVilles-Sorell gave the opening keynote address focusing on Healing Historical Trauma to Build Resiliency, and Unity, and Empowerment in Victim Services. I was so impressed with how Jeremy was able to incorporate humor into his presentation. Something that we need so much more of.
I had the privilege of providing the welcome remarks, where I was able to talk about some of the new enhancements that we've made to our Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside program. One change is to the tribal population certification process, which will now be handled through a web-based fillable form, so signatures can be collected more easily. We're also launching a very cool pilot program, where OVC staff and technical assistance providers will travel to the Tribes to assist with the budget and program narrative development as they fill out their noncompetitive applications. We're actually doing some of that onsite here, at the conference and our computer lab, and we're going to be offering this assistance at our Tribal grantee meeting in the spring.
During my opening remarks, I also had the opportunity to announce the next iteration of our Child Victims and Witnesses Support Materials project, which is comprised of 12 new picture books, comic books, and graphic novels designed to support Native children and youth who are victims and witnesses to crime. Many child victims and witnesses have endured multiple forms of violence and victimization over time, as have their families and their communities. These materials have been designed to provide information about the justice process and the people that the children will encounter along the way. They also address healing from trauma, with examples of effective trauma-informed responses by practitioners, in a culturally responsive format. The artwork and stories depicted in these materials were developed by Native artists and authors, and they’ve gone through a rigorous review by partners and stakeholders, including the Indian Country Child Trauma Center, the National Indian Welfare Association, the Native American Children’s Alliance, the National Native Children’s Trauma Center, and Tribal Youth Resource Center Youth Ambassadors.
We were able to have some of the artists and the content developers at the OVC booth in the exhibit hall here to talk about their experiences creating the books. And I could tell by speaking with them that this was not just a routine assignment for them – it was really a labor of love. And I want to thank OVC’s Lindsay Waldrop for her fastidious attention and dedication to making sure these books were created and made available. I hope you’ll go to the OVC website and download all of Kids in Court materials.
Now some of you may be asking, will hard copies be available? And the answer to that is yes. OVC will be providing funds to pay for the printing of these materials. But more information on that will be coming soon.
The Indian Nations Conference also has panels on responding to missing and murdered indigenous persons, developing child advocacy centers, creating healing spaces for male survivors, and so much more. OVC’s Malgorzata Bereziewicz held a listening session on crime victim compensation, which had a standing room only crowd. The conference ends tomorrow; and I know it will be bittersweet for so many who have had such joyous reunions with friends and colleagues here.
In other traveling news, in November I attended the American Society of Criminology Conference in Atlanta, GA, where I was on a panel with Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon and the Directors of NIJ, BJS, and OJJDP. I have to say, it was a love fest of sorts, as we discussed our efforts to work collaboratively to meet the data, research, and programmatic needs of criminal justice practitioners and researchers. I stressed the importance of research practitioner partnerships and action research to find better ways of understanding, responding, and evaluating the needs of crime victims.
I also attended the Annual Summit for the VOCA State Administering Agencies in Savannah, GA, where I was able to spend some real quality time with VOCA Compensation and Assistance Administrators. And I was able to hear their concerns about the solvency of the Crime Victims Fund. And we did it through a format, of just open discussion. It’s the kind of interaction that I really do love–open, respectful dialog about difficult issues surrounding funding, staffing, policy, and practice. Now we may not have solved the world’s problems while we were there, but I think we all felt really good about the process and about making those connections with one another.
Speaking of the Crime Victims Fund, we don’t yet have a complete set of October figures as we had hoped. And the reason we don’t have the official figures is because of the routine Federal budget reconciliation process that happens at the end of the fiscal year.
So, though we’re not able to give you full details, we were informed of the October deposits. So, in October, collections from deferred and non-prosecution cases—and remember those are the cases that we can now accept deposits from because of the VOCA Fix—totaled $45 million and criminal deposits totaled roughly $200 million, for a total of $245 million. This was welcome news to many of us!
If we add that 250—$245 million to the $1.5 billion balance that we currently have in the CVF, we are just shy of the obligation cap of $1.75 billion that is proposed in the President’s Budget for FY ‘23. Now we won’t know where we officially stand until we have the October and November figures, which will include the new CVF balance. But for now, I’m viewing this as OVC’s holiday gift. Check our website later this month for updated information.
As you know, the CVF supports so many efforts that enable federal and non-governmental organizations to provide services to victims and survivors. And a portion of that funding is dedicated to discretionary grant programs that help service providers identify and fill gaps in services, but also enhance skill sets of providers, promote public awareness of the issues crime victims face, and also support training and technical assistance for those doing the work.
You can find information about OVC’s anticipated FY ‘23 discretionary grant programs in the DOJ Program Plan at justice.gov. This tool was just recently updated with our FY ‘23 solicitations, so I wanted to be sure to mention it. These are all dependent on the passage of the FY ‘23 budget, of course, but many of our grant programs are returning for FY ‘23, with a few new ones sprinkled in.
Two that I’m excited about are the Peer-to-Peer Support for Survivors of Crime solicitation and our Action Partnerships program. The Peer-to-Peer solicitation will fund a pass-thru program to assist and support communities across the country with establishing effective peer-to-peer support services for crime survivors. With the Action Partnerships program, we hope to build relationships with national membership organizations that represent funeral homes, burial services, medical examiners and coroners, and other professional organizations whose members may come into contact with the surviving family members or loved ones of homicide victims. Be sure to check out the Program Plan for more information about these programs and many others from OVC and our partner agencies within OJP.
Thanks so much for joining me today. I’ve heard from many of you that you like these monthly updates. But we’re always up for improving! If there are specific things you would like me to include in these briefings, let me know by emailing [email protected] [[email protected]].
As we head into the winter holidays, I hope that you’re able to take time off and return in the New Year renewed in mind, body, and spirit.
Please accept my heartfelt thanks for the work that you do every single day of every single year to make life a little bit easier for those who have suffered trauma from victimization. I am grateful for all you are doing to help crime survivors find their justice.
I know the holidays can be a difficult time for many—especially crime survivors, advocates, and their loved ones. For those who are struggling this holiday season, I wish you moments of peace and rest. Please know that those of us at OVC are holding you close in our hearts.
I’ll see you in 2023. Thank you.
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.