From the Director’s Desk, October 12, 2023
During the briefing, Director Rose provided updates on Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, funding awards, takeaways from recent travels, the status of the Crime Victims Fund, and more.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the October 12, 2023, installment of From the Director’s Desk. We’re glad 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: Thanks, Daryl. Good afternoon, everyone. I’m broadcasting today from Main Justice in Washington, DC, where we are about to co-host a screening with the Office on Violence Against Women of a new film called “This Is Where I Learned Not to Sleep,” featuring Lieutenant Mark Wynn. He is a former domestic violence investigator. He’s a Lieutenant from Nashville PD. He’s retired now; but he is very well known for the training that he has done for many, many years on domestic violence. So in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Mark is here with us, along with the producer, and the--and the director of the film to screen it for DOJ personnel. So we’re excited about that.
I’m going to spend today’s broadcast focusing on some of our key FY ’23 grant award announcements. And, I’ve just returned from visiting the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center. And that’s located on the campus of Medical University of South Carolina. We call it MUSC. We were only there for a day, but we managed to fit a lot in! And it was a heavy but very inspiring day. So we were there to announce the--that we were providing a nearly $9 million dollar award to the National Center. And they’ve been--MUSC has been operating the National Center since I think 2017. And they just received another award to continue their good work.
Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon and members of my staff, when we got to Charleston, we started the day by paying our respects at the Mother Emanuel AME Church, in Charleston, where nine members of their congregation were fatally shot 8 years ago. And we were able to visit with Pastor Manning, who graciously walked us through the church and shared the impact that this tragedy had on the congregation and on the larger community.
And this is really some of the first mass violence work that MUSC got involved with, because they were so closely located to where the shooting happened. We were able to tour the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center and met with their staff, including the National Center’s Director, Dr. Dean Kilpatrick. And we got to learn about the incredible work that they’re doing to really enhance the capacity of communities to serve victims, especially those recovering from mass violence. And they do that through research, planning, training, technology, and collaboration. As part of their new award, they’re going to expand the development of their evidence-based practices and they’re going to center those around addressing the behavioral health needs of survivors. They’re also going to provide more training and site-based assistance; and they’ll convene a national conference of experts and stakeholders to share best practices. It was really a phenomenal day. And I am so grateful to MUSC and everyone we had the chance to meet and speak with yesterday. And I’m excited about what is going to come.
Also, last month, I traveled to Arizona for the International Association of Forensic Nurses’ International Conference. And I love this conference, and I was very excited to be able to announce two grant awards while I was there. And, it’s so funny, because when I was announcing those awards there were grantees in the audience that did not know that they were getting the awards, so when I announced it there were just whoops of joy. And I can’t tell you how that made me feel as the director [Laughter] of OVC, to just witness that kind of excitement in real time. So I’ll tell you a little bit about it. These were grants that came from the FY ‘23 Expanding Access to Sexual Assault Forensic Examinations program, and we awarded almost $2 million dollars to a group of sites the University of South Alabama, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center, and Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners-Forensic Center of Excellence. So these new grant programs will be working to ensure that survivors in Alabama, Tennessee, Oregon, and Texas will now have expanded access to clinical care in the aftermath of sexual assault.
We also awarded $3 million dollars to the IAFN to provide training and technical assistance to these sites, as well as to continue some of their pre-existing TA. They’ll be providing TA around victim safety, autonomy, self-agency, and program sustainability, which is really at the heart of this initiative. And we are just confident that these new programs will be a huge success.
On this Saturday, just wanting you to know that I will be joining a group of officials that have been invited to tour the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, that’s going to be torn down soon. And they are offering these tours to really bear witness to the tragedy that happened there 5 years ago, where all of those students and faculty were killed. I want to thank Max Schachter, whose son Alex was murdered, for inviting me to be there. I feel honored to be invited and to be part of this important event tomorrow. I mean, excuse me, not tomorrow, on Saturday.
And then after that, I will be leaving to go to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and that’s in San Diego. And then later on in October, I’ll be at the National Conference on Domestic Violence. So I’ll have a lot to report next month.
And that’s a perfect segue into my next announcement, which is in commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month we’re releasing a podcast, a conversation that I had with Nancy Blaney, who is the Director of Government Affairs at the Animal Welfare Institute, about the importance of housing for victims and survivors of domestic violence and their companion animals. Nancy was just delightful. She is a wealth of information. She has been “on the ground” since coordination began within the criminal justice community on animal cruelty issues and that linkage to violent crime. I had the opportunity to shine a spotlight on our Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing Assistance Grant Program and, specifically, on some of our grantees. So, I hope you’ll take some time to listen. You’ll be able to find a link to the podcast on our homepage at ovc.ojp.gov.
But one of the things you won’t hear in the podcast is mention of the new FY ‘23 awards, because those awards hadn’t been made at the time that we recorded it. But I’m happy to announce them now! And we’re making 14 awards, including 1 award to a technical assistance provider, who will provide--who will support up to 23 existing and future potential grantees to help them meet their grant objectives. We’re also going to provide 7 “smaller” awards of $100,000 or less. And then 6 “larger” awards of $400,000 or less.
We offered the small rewards. Rewards? [Laughter] We offered the small awards--I guess they are kind of a reward--this year in direct response to feedback we received from the field. And that was that smaller organizations, they just may not need as much funding to make a big impact and were less likely to apply for some of the larger grants. So we were very happy to see the response to the smaller grants and look forward to carrying that into the future.
So in total, for OVC, we awarded nearly $1.8 billion dollars in grant dollars in ‘23. In addition to the awards that I’ve already mentioned, we’re funding hotlines, including state-run hate reporting hotlines; hospital-based victim services where advocates can meet with victims of violent crime and their families and immediately connect them with services and support. We’re funding grants to support multidisciplinary teams to better identify and respond to elder abuse.
We awarded more than $69 million dollars through the Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside program, which provides support to American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the country to enhance services for victims in Tribal communities.
We’re also going to be--well we are funding, because we made those awards--peer-to-peer support programs, and resource centers that are going to expand access for underheard and underrepresented communities and they’re going to lift up the use of research in developing victim-related programs and policy. Those were a couple of programs that we actually funded several years ago, that we were able to bring back. And we’re really, really excited about that.
We awarded more than $96 million to empower communities to respond to human trafficking. And through those grants, they’ll be offering essential services to survivors, and providing comprehensive training and TA to the anti-trafficking field.
As our new grantees begin work on their projects, and our current grantees move into the implementation phases of their awards, I hope that you all will share your lessons learned and successes with us because we want to tell the story of the impact you’re making. You can talk to your grant managers. You can tell me, like many of you do when I speak to you at conferences. Your stories feed the core of our work. And we’re beyond grateful for your hard work, your incredible innovation, and your dedication to serving victims of crime.
I do want to remind you all that we will be releasing our solicitation for Community Awareness Project grants or our CAP grants, which are the awards that we make to communities for their National Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities. And we usually fund quite a few of those. And it’s just amazing to learn about the creativity and the excitement that comes from these communities that have used their CAP grants, to raise awareness in their neighborhoods and among practitioners in the field there. So keep an eye out for that. That’s going to be found on the funding page of ovc.ojp.gov.
You can also find a listing of all of our grantees on our website. So just visit ovc.ojp.gov/funding and you can click on “Awards List.” And that way you can see all of the grant awards that we made.
And, last, I actually don’t have an update for you on the Crime Victims Fund this month. Because of the timing of when we get our updates, we just haven’t received it yet. I imagine that we will get it in the next couple of days. And as soon as we get it, we will put it on our website. But I’m going to give you the brief summary that we gave last month for August and then please keep an eye on the website for the September figures. The amount of money that was deposited into the CVF for the month of August was $30.8 million dollars, and the balance now sits at $879 million dollars in the Crime Victims Fund. Unfortunately, it is the lowest balance of the CVF since 2006. We continue to monitor the CVF closely and educate all of our colleagues and practitioners around the country about the CVF and the solvency issues. And we are working everyday toward solutions to making the Crime Victims Fund solvent.
You may have heard somebody just walk in. I’m sitting in the green room at Main Justice outside of the where the Attorney General makes a lot of his public remarks. And Rosie Hidalgo, who is the director of OVW just peaked her head in; so she sends her regards to all of you.
So enjoy the rest of your week. Everyone take good care. Our thoughts and our prayers and just, you know, our daily thoughts, minute by minute, are with the people that are at war in the Middle East.
I thank all of you for everything that you do to help crime victims find their justice.
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