From the Director's Desk, March 9, 2023
During this call, Director Rose provided updates about the 2023 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, new funding opportunities and sources, the status of the Crime Victims Fund, and more.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the March 9, 2023 installment of From the Director’s Desk. We’re 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 tomorrow to the OVC website.
At this time, it’s my pleasure to introduce Kristina Rose, OVC Director, for today’s briefing.
KRISTINA ROSE: Thanks so much Daryl. And good afternoon, everyone.
I have been traveling quite a bit since the last time I did this broadcast. And I am excited to share some of what I’ve learned while on the road. In February, I joined my colleagues from OJP in St. Louis for a 3-day conference for recipients of OJP’s Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative grants. I had the honor of closing out the second day, where I shared my reflections on the event and highlighted some of our programs that will enable us to reach survivors living in underserved communities and experiencing gun violence and other kinds of violent crime. This conference really drove home for me that in neighborhoods that are besieged by violent crime, a person who commits a crime one day may also be a crime victim the next. And it is vitally important for policymakers, criminal justice officials, service providers, and others to really understand this dynamic. So that we can ensure healing and support for all individuals who experience crime victimization.
And last week, I traveled to California for the IACP’s Officer Safety and Wellness Conference. IACP, for those of you who don't know, is the International Association of Chiefs of Police. I was on a panel with BJA Director Karhlton Moore, COPS Deputy Director Rob Chapman, and it was moderated by Domingo Herraiz, who is one of the Directors at IACP. And there, I shared information about OVC 's initiatives and it's really gratifying to see how interest is growing in this area of law enforcement health and wellness. Five years ago, the IACP only had a few--few 100 attendees; and this year, there were over 1,200. So that was really impressive. One of the things I talked about, though, was acknowledging that crime victim services are a part of many law enforcement agencies and that service providers… We need to be very aware of the vicarious trauma that service providers experience in their jobs working with survivors every day. So some of you may already be aware of OVC’s Vicarious Trauma Toolkit, which I talked about. And it's a really important resource for law enforcement, victim advocates, EMTs, and other first responders to mitigate the potentially negative effects of trauma exposure.
And our Law Enforcement Based Victim Services project, which we often refer to as LEV, seeks to develop and enhance sustainable victim assistance programs in law enforcement agencies. So it was really fun to be able to talk about both of those. And part of that is because, with the LEV program, we've really been able to see some successes. Twenty-one of the sites that we fund, and I believe that we're funding about 70 sites; meaning that we were able to help them develop or enhance their victim services there, including positions. That 21 of the sites were able to transition LEV-funded positions to agency-funded positions. So in other words, those positions that were created, victim services, were so valued that the city, the county, or the state made a decision to pick up those positions in their own budgets. So for example, Cleveland County’s LEV program in North Carolina, they included the full-time and part-time victim specialists working under the OVC award, in their FY 2023 budget so that they can continue their work after the OVC award closes in May. So folks, that is what sustainability looks like! And I was just so pleased to get that information last week and wanted to share it with you.
While I was in California for the IACP meeting, Chief of Staff, Sasha Rutizer, here, and I visited with the service providers at the Chinese Service Center in Los Angeles. Now they're the ones who have been providing the services for victims and survivors of the shooting that occurred at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park in January. And even though it has been little more than a month since the crime occurred, new victims who were present at the time of the shooting are still coming forward. And this shooting, this crime is still impacting the day-to-day work of the Chinese Service Center. This mass violence event really overwhelmed and impacted the Chinese community there. And it reinforced for me the importance of ensuring a culturally appropriate response, not only for victims of mass violence events, but for all victims. And it can mean the difference between asking for and receiving help, or suffering alone.
And now, I’ll turn to the monthly update on the CVF.
January deposits into the CVF totaled $70 million—the lowest monthly amount this Fiscal Year. And that brought the current balance of the CVF to $1.91 billion. We’ve already met the FY ‘23 obligation cap, so now we’re focused on FY ’24 and we’d like to see monthly deposits of approximately $200 million to reach a more comfortable and solvent level in the fund. And we will keep you updated.
So and astute listener from the--that listened to the From the Director’s Desk last month asked, “How it is that OVC can be the largest federal funder of services for human trafficking services, but on the other hand have a declining amount of money in the Crime Victims Fund?”
And I’m so glad that that question was raised. Let me explain. The CVF is the largest source of funding that OVC administers, but not the only source.
OVC also manages funding appropriated through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Over the years, this appropriation has increased significantly from $10 million dollars in 2002, to $95 million dollars in FY 2023, allowing us to intensify our direct services efforts on behalf of trafficking victims, announce new initiatives, and expand existing programs.
We also receive transfers of funding from other government entities, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. You might be surprised to learn that the PAWS program, P-A-W-S, which supports shelters and transitional housing options for victims of domestic violence and their companion animals, is made possible by a transfer of funds from the USDA. And some of our programs that support SANE, or sexual assault nurse examiner, services are supported by a BJA transfer. Now these may seem like unlikely partnerships on the surface, but it’s these relationships that support a whole-of-government approach to serving victims of crime.
I hope this information has been helpful. If you ever want more detailed information on funding streams for specific programs, each of our solicitations provides the statutory authority by which the awards will be made.
And speaking of solicitations, I want to direct your attention to the “Current Funding Opportunities” section of our website, ovc.ojp.gov, because we have steadily been posting new solicitations for FY 2023. We’re currently seeking applicants for projects that will—
- build the capacity of national hotlines;
- expand access to sexual assault forensic examinations;
- establish peer-to-peer support for crime survivors across the country;
- maintain the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center;
- provide shelter and housing assistance to survivors and their companion animals; and
- improve services to child and youth victims of human trafficking.
Now there are more coming. But most of these funding opportunities have April deadlines, so I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the goals, objectives, and deliverables as soon as possible; and register to attend the respective pre-application webinars. We also ask that you share the availability of these solicitations with your colleagues or through listservs that you manage, so we can increase access to these opportunities. And, if your organization has never applied for OVC funding before, there are resources available for you! You can start with a series of webinars we produced last year that cover getting ready to apply, considerations when building your budget, and preparing your proposal. These recorded webinars are accessible from the “Funding Webinars” page under the “Current Funding Opportunities” section of our site.
So lastly, a few reminders!
- If you’re a VOCA Administrators… If you’re a VOCA Administrator, you would have received an email last week about the anticipated end of the national emergency period for the pandemic and how that impacts the match waiver process for VOCA Victim Assistance programs. Simply put, if the national emergency ends, as planned, on May 11, 2023, then beginning a year later--so a year from now, on May 11, 2024, states will no longer be required to automatically waive match for subrecipients. By then, States must establish and make public match waiver policies for the post-national emergency period. Now a majority of states have already met this goal and, for those still in the works, OVC is offering increased training and technical assistance. But if you have any questions about this, you can certainly reach out to your OVC grant manager.
- We’ve opened registration to attend the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Candlelight Vigil on April 26th at 7:00 p.m. Once again, we’ll be commemorating NCVRW from the National Mall and it is sure to be a moving tribute to survivors of crime and the many advocates and allied professionals who support them. So we hope that you will register and join us!
- And we have just released audiobook recordings of our trafficking-focused Child Victims and Witnesses Support Materials—and this a first for OVC. These recordings bring the materials to life, with young adult trafficking survivors as the voice actors. If you work with young survivors of human trafficking, these are an excellent new resource that can be listened to with or without the written materials on hand.
So that’s it for today. Take care, enjoy the rest of your week, and thank you again for everything you’re doing to help victims find their justice. 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.