From the Director’s Desk, November 9, 2023
During the briefing, Director Rose discussed the 2024 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Community Awareness Projects funding opportunity, the National Indian Nations Conference art initiative, the status of the Crime Victims Fund, and more.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the November 9, 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 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 very much, Daryl. And good afternoon, everyone. I just got out of an OVC staff meeting, and those meetings always leave me so energized. So I am ready to go today.
Last week, I traveled to Lewiston, Maine, with my colleague, Eugenia Pedley, who’s the grant manager for our Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program. We call it AEAP. We went to offer OVC’s assistance and participate in conversations with state and local officials about using our AEAP funding for the development of a resiliency center and to provide ongoing victim assistance needs in the aftermath of the tragedy that took place there.
We were joined by three highly experienced OVC TTAC consultants and two psychologists from the Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center. The FBI Victim Services Division set up a Temporary Family Assistance Center at the Armory in Lewiston, where various organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Local Victim Services and other community organizations were available at tables to answer questions and provide assistance. And the FAC really served as the hub for returning property to victims and survivors, filing crime victim compensation claims, and receiving care. The City of Lewiston and the State of Maine really stepped up to provide support for everyone who was impacted by the shooting.
Within days of the tragedy, a site had already been identified to house their resiliency center. And that center is going to be opening on November 13th. And that is really fast. It almost never happens that quickly. So I just want to give a huge thanks to Eugenia, my colleague; the OVC TTAC crew, and the MVVRC staff for their efforts in Maine and for the continued hard work that is still ahead of them.
I also want to give a special shout out to Cara Cookson and the amazing victim advocates from the Maine Attorney General's Office, the Androscoggin County DA's Office, the Family Assistance Center, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maine, and the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine. What an incredible group of individuals! The State of Maine is so lucky to have such hard working and compassionate professionals who always put victims first.
Prior to that, I joined my colleagues from OJP and about 14,000 law enforcement officials for the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference and it was held in San Diego this year.
My OVC colleague, Alissa Huntoon, represented OVC at the IACP Victim Services Committee meeting and she managed a panel and facilitated the panel called, “Building Trust and Empowering Victims of Human Trafficking Through Community Police Partnerships.” While I was there, I moderated a panel called, “Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services: A Gateway to Effective Police Community Relationships.” And that panel really focused on the benefits of OVC's Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services Program that we partner with IACP to--to do.
OVC also sponsored a roundtable discussion on Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services and it was really well attended. I was interviewed for the IACP TV on the importance of Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services and I have to say, that was really, that was really fun. I concluded my time there and IACP as part of a federal panel with my colleagues from OJP to discuss all the law enforcement resources available from OJP.
You know, looking back, I have been to so many IACP conferences in my career. And I've never experienced an IACP conference where victim services have just been so well received; and--and so part of the fabric of the conference. And I really believe that this is a result of OVC's long-term investments in the Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims Program, the Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services Program, and so many other initiatives where we've partnered with IACP over the years.
And it's funny because one chief--You know when you're starting to have an impact--and when I say you, I mean all of us--trying so hard to make sure that law enforcement understands the value of victim services. In the panel I was on, one chief--I had a chief and a victim services manager from three different jurisdictions talking about their programs on my panel. And one of the chiefs remarked at the panel that I moderated, he said, “At my Police Department, the only compliments we ever receive are about the victim services program.” And I just thought that was wonderful.
So in addition to going to Maine and San Diego, Sasha Rutizer, my chief of staff, and I traveled to Parkland, Florida to participate in a guided visitation of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and pay tribute to those who died and were harmed there. That was a very emotional day for all those in attendance and I felt extremely honored to be invited and bear witness that day.
While in Parkland, I had the opportunity to visit with the staff from the Eagles’ Haven Resiliency Center, which opened in March of 2019 following the shooting. And it’s OVC funded through our AEAP program. And the team there provides wellness experiences like yoga, creative art, meditation, dance. But they also provide crisis support, case management, support groups. And all of it is free of charge to nearly 700 students, parents, and teachers. And while we were there, a Zumba class was taking place. Pretty cool. Big thank you to Sarah Franco, the director of Eagles’ Haven, for taking the time to talk to us and show us her beautiful center.
So I'm taking a break from traveling this month, except I am making a day trip to the American Society of Criminology’s annual meeting in Philadelphia. So on November 15th, I’ll be on a panel with my federal colleagues, Nancy La Vigne, who is the director of NIJ; Rosie Hidalgo, who is the director of the Office on Violence Against Women; and Carrie Bettinger-Lopez, who is a fellow here at OVC and the prior White House Advisor for then, Vice President Biden on Violence Against Women. And we’re going to talk about research and data priorities related to gender-based violence. We’re going to be sharing information about federal efforts to support GBV research and data and how these efforts align with the recently released National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. So if any of you are going to be at the ASC meeting, we would love it if you would stop by.
So next, is our Crime Victims Fund update. And, for the first time in a long while, I actually have some encouraging information. If you’ve visited our website in the last couple of weeks, you would have seen that the current balance of the CVF--as of September 30th--is just over $1 billion dollars. And although this is the lowest end of year balance since 2006, the CVF is in much better shape than it was the month before. And that’s because we collected $238.6 million dollars in criminal fines for September, and $36.6 million dollars collected from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements because of the VOCA Fix, and then another $53 million dollars from deobligations returned to the fund.
I want to mention that in FY 2023, criminal fines collections, this does not include the deferred and non-prosecutions, totaled more than $1.1 billion dollars. And that is the most collected from fines since FY ‘17.
So we’re still aiming to meet the $1.2 billion dollar cap that was put forward in the President’s budget, and also reflected in the House and Senate marks. And we will continue to keep you updated!
So, finally, some housekeeping items:
- The application period for the Community Awareness Project grants, or the CAP grants, is now open. As a quick reminder, these are $5,000 subgrants to organizations and communities that are hosting Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities. So, if you have an idea for an event or an awareness activity, apply by November 17th on the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrator’s website. And that is at cap.navaa.org.
- And, last month, I talked to you all about the impending launch of the iMPRoVE platform, which is a free tool that victim service providers can use to collect data and measure the impact of their services. I’m very happy to announce that the platform is now live at www.improve-tool.org. So you can visit the website to learn about how you can use data to improve your service delivery, boost staff morale, support the use of best practices, and give clients a voice in services and how they’re delivered. The iMPRoVE team is also going to be at the ASC conference; so if you’re there, keep an eye out for them.
- And this being National Native American Heritage Month, I hope that you will consider participating in a very cool art initiative for our 18th National Indian Nations conference, which will be held next year in 2024. We’re looking for original artwork from survivors, advocates, and representees from Tribal communities. The artwork that is selected will be used on conference materials and displayed throughout the conference venue. So this is a long-held tradition of prior Indian Nations conferences, so we are looking forward to resurrecting this and continuing the tradition. So, if you’re interested, go to our website at ovc.ojp.gov for more information and be sure to submit your artwork by December 8th.
- And then finally, if you received an invitation to complete the National Census of Victim Service Providers, I encourage you to do so. If you know of any organizations that didn’t receive an invitation and should have, please have them visit ovc.ojp.gov and click on the “Be counted!” announcement on the homepage. They can learn more about the census and access a link to receive an invitation. OVC provides funding support for this sentence--for this census to help OVC and all of you better understand the current landscape of victim services across the country.
So, I believe my time is up. So until next month. Thank you all for everything that you do to help crime victims find their justice. Take care.
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.