From the Director’s Desk, May 11, 2023
During this call, Director Rose provided reflections on 2023 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, updates about the Victim Compensation Grant Program Guidelines, the status of the Crime Victims Fund, and more.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the May 11, 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: Thank you, Daryl. And good afternoon, everyone. It has been a wonderful, busy, exhausting, and inspiring couple of weeks.
This month, I’m speaking to you from our offices in Washington, D.C., where we are hosting our Bi-Annual 2023 VOCA Assistance Administrators Summit. I was able to spend about 90 minutes yesterday with over 60 representatives from State Admin--State Administrating Agencies from 33 states and 2 territories. And we were able to have a discussion about the Crime Victims Fund and other issues that have been on their minds. They're a terrific group of dedicated individuals who oversee victim services at the state level and I was just delighted to spend time with them.
I hope that you’ve all had a chance to rest up from a truly invigorating and inspirational National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. I don’t know about you, but April felt all-consuming this year—but in a really good way.
I started the month of April by visiting with the staff at the Resiliency Center in Pittsburgh, that was created after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. And then, I flew to Colorado for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the new Forensic Center of Excellence at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. Both of these trips were amazing and I walked away feeling like I had just witnessed something very special.
I started National Crime Victims’ Rights Week at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque for the official launch of the Youth Advocacy Corps, an OVC-funded award with the National Organization for Victim Assistance. Through the Youth Advocacy Corps, college students from five minority-based institutions will be selected to participate in a paid victim advocate fellowship program. They’ll be trained and certified to work with victims and survivors in communities where resources and assistance are scarce, but the violence is ever-present. The young leader of this project—Abrianna Morales—she is a force. And I’m so excited to see what the future holds for the corps at Aaniiih Nakoda College, Dominican University, The University of Texas at El Paso, the University of New Mexico, and Coahoma Community College.
OVC also hosted two events during NCVRW—a symposium that engaged survivors on criminal justice reform issues and a Candlelight Vigil. The symposium was truly something to behold. We invited leaders in field of criminal justice reform, victim services, and other disciplines to hear from survivor leaders on important criminal justice reform issues, like alternatives to incarceration, restorative justice, and responses to gun violence. The participants seemed captivated with the survivors’ authenticity, their vulnerability, and their candor on these policy issues. Our goal was for attendees to leave with a new, or at least a revived, understanding of the value that survivor leaders bring to the criminal justice reform discussion. I'd like to think that we achieved that last week.
And then for the second time, we hosted the Candlelight Vigil on the National Mall. Between those who joined us in front of the U.S. Capitol and our viewers at home, we had around 500 attendees. Our guest speakers introduced the theme videos, each one representing one of our three theme elements: elevate, engage, and effect change. Anna Nasset from Stand Up Resources talked about the experience of elevating her voice to ensure other survivors would be able to do so. Jerome Brown from the SNUG Street Outreach Program talked about engaging survivors to give voice to those who felt voiceless, power to those who felt powerless, and hope to those who knew no hope. And Roberta Roper, a victim rights change agent for the last 40 years, who founded the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center talked about effecting change in Maryland and around the country to restore hope and healing in the aftermath of crime. There was so much power in their words. Singer-songwriter Kelly Jackson performed the haunting “I Don't Want to Go,” a tribute to children and youth from Tribal Communities who were traumatized by the boarding school experience. Kelly’s mom honored missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls with her dancing and her presence. We also had the American Pops Orchestra, again, who provided the vocals for the National Anthem and a lovely, rousing song at the end. Honestly, I will never forget it.
And then heading into May, last week, we commemorated Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day on May 5. We joined the Nation in renewing our commitment to ensuring resources are available to solve missing persons cases in Tribal and Native communities and providing services to them and their families. Throughout the month, we’re going to be sharing resources on our MMIP topic page that support survivors, victim service providers, and allied professionals. As a reminder Tribes and organizations that receive funding under our Fiscal Year ‘23 OVC Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Program can use their funding for MMIP. They can use it to provide services to the family members of MMIP victims. They can generate awareness of MMIP among community members, in general, and for individual MMIP cases; and collaborate with Tribal, federal, and state and local officials to respond to MMIP cases.
Speaking of the set-aside, last week, the OVC Tribal Division’s Alaska Team conducted an in-person program narrative checklist interview as part of the Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside. And they went to four locations in Alaska. OVC’s Tribal Division offers this special flexibility to Tribal applicants. If they choose, they can submit an application and a program narrative of their proposal in an interview with OVC staff by phone or virtually. This time, we actually sent OVC staff to Alaska so they could do it in person. This pilot project in Alaska is in direct response to what we heard was needed from Tribal leaders during consultations and it expands the interview option to allow applicants to meet directly with OVC staff to discuss their program, with the intended outcome of replicating this pilot program in the future with Tribes in the Lower 48.
I’m going to be traveling to Alaska next week for the opening of the new Children's Advocacy Center in Hooper Bay. I'm also going to be visiting the domestic violence shelter there. We actually were supposed to visit last September, but because of the weather conditions, the trip was postponed. We're also going to visit the Tundra Women 's Coalition in Bethel. And Lane Tucker, the U.S. Attorney in the District of Alaska, will be joining us. We've been told to wear layers and casual clothes and good shoes, as they're experiencing a late spring in Alaska. So we are digging out our winter clothes for this visit.
Now, I want to briefly cover the status of the Crime Victims Fund. Last month, I discussed the President’s FY ‘24 budget request which, calls for a cap of $1.2 billion dollars on the CVF. This represents a 37 percent reduction from the FY ‘23 enacted level, and a 54 percent reduction from the FY ‘22 enacted level. The current balance of the CVF is $2.1 billion dollars, and you may have heard that in congressional testimony last week. I do want to let you know that that will change over the next few months, as our FY ‘23 obligations continue to be deducted from that total.
I don’t have much by way of updates to the deposits and receipts. The preliminary numbers I reported last month for March still stand as we await our April update. The amount collected for the month of March was $273 million dollars, bringing the total for FY ‘23 receipts to $817 million dollars, which was the best month we had had in all of FY ’23. So let’s just hope that that continues.
I want to reassure you that OVC is actively engaged in discussions with OJP leadership about the solvency of the CVF and we will continue to keep you updated as we receive new information. And, please, keep an eye on the OVC website, where we post our monthly updates of the CVF numbers. Because we should be getting those April numbers any day, now.
If you go to the website you'll also see that we still have a host of solicitations open right now on ovc.ojp.gov, for which I hope that you will take a look and you know, maybe you’ll even apply. If you don’t see a funding opportunity that’s just right for your organization’s needs, check out the other opportunities available from OJP on ojp.gov or at the Office on Violence Against Women at justice.gov/ovw.
So with that, thank you so much for joining me this month. And thank you for the feedback that you've been providing to me about these broadcasts each month. I really love hearing that and it's so helpful to help me in understanding the kind of information you want to hear about. So enjoy the rest of your week, and take care. Thank you for everything that you’re doing to help victims 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.