From the Director’s Desk, December 14, 2023
During the briefing, Director Rose discussed the 18th National Indian Nations Conference, the National Census of Victim Service Providers, the FY 2024 Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Program, recent events, the status of the Crime Victims Fund, and more.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the December 14, 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 so much, Daryl. And good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining me for the last From the Director’s Desk briefing for 2023.
My voice is a little bit hoarse today, so forgive me if I'm not as clear as I am in other briefings. I will do my best. It really has been a great day today and I just want to share with--that with you. Today was OJP's annual Assistant Attorney General's Awards ceremony, where every year awards are given out to OJP staff who have earned significant recognition. And this year, OVC's Tribal Division was recognized, as was one of our longtime staff members, Laura Ivkovich. So if you'll indulge me for just a moment, I'd like to tell you a little bit about each one of them.
As you know, the Tribal communities that we serve face just horrific barriers to services that for many of us are unimaginable. And the rural and isolated nature of many Tribes means that they lack some of the basics, the things we take for granted like a law enforcement presence or access to a hospital or a shelter, adequate housing, public transportation, assistance for drug or alcohol addiction. So when public servants find ways to help eliminate these barriers, it really does matter, and it requires several things: patience, listening, and a true desire for change. And our Tribal Division, under the capable and supportive leadership of Katherine Darke Schmitt, and now LeBretia White, have been able to do these things, from making changes to the complex grant application process, to giving Tribes more flexibility to engage in cultural healing practices, for meeting personally with members’ Tribes in their Alaskan villages, to allowing the use of grant funds for constructing housing on reservations. The Tribal Division has truly embodied what it means to meet victims where they are. I'm just going to say their names real quick: Jessica Andrew, Mary Atlas-Terry, Yolanda Curtis Gibson, Lori Gardner, Anne Hamilton, Dawn Hill, Tanya Miller, Ramesa Pitts, Alexis Polen, Bonnie Robertson, Carmen Santiago Roberts, Jenny Stancell, Kimberly Woodard, and again LeBretia White and Katherine Darke Schmitt. So I just want to thank the team for fulfilling the mission of OVC, which--with such tenacity, energy, verve, and purpose.
And next, I want to acknowledge Laura Ivkovich, who many of you might know because she's been working in the field for 40 years on behalf of crime victims. She started out as the director of the first-of-its-kind victim witness assistance program at the Arizona Attorney General's Office. I guess she started out creating it and then eventually ended up as director. And then at OVC, she--she joined OVC in 1992 wearing multiple hats and new--and spearheading numerous initiatives, such as our state victim assistance academies, the law enforcement victims specialist program, and really significantly OVC's Elder Justice portfolio, which has been such an impactful program. And she is ready to retire after her four decades doing this work. So I just want to say a big congratulations to Laura Ivkovich.
In November, I traveled to Philadelphia for the American Society of Criminology’s annual meeting. There, I participated in a panel discussing research and data priorities that are related to gender-based violence. I shared the stage with OVW Director Rosie Hidalgo, NIJ Director Nancy La Vigne, and Carrie Bettinger-Lopez, who is a Senior Advisor here at OVC and she moderated the panel. We had a lively conversation about DOJ’s efforts to support gender-based violence research and statistics and how these efforts align with the U.S. National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. So, if you haven’t had an opportunity to read the national plan, I encourage you to do so. You can find in on the web--on the White House website and for your convenience, we’ll link to it in the transcript of today’s recording.
And then earlier this week, I addressed State Administering Agencies at the OVC Bi-Annual Summit for VOCA Victim Assistance and Victim Compensation Administrators. This 2-day event was held in Palm Springs, California, and gave administrators the opportunity to discuss emerging issues and trends that are impacting their work. I was so happy to be able to welcome attendees on day one and to offer updates on the Crime Victims Fund and the proposed rule for the federal crime victim compensation program, which I’ll get to in a minute. And then I opened things up for a Q and A. And though I was disappointed I couldn't be there in person, because I did this virtually, I just did not want to miss this meeting. I so enjoy having the opportunity to connect with the SAAs.
So, let me switch gears to the proposed rule. We expect it to be posted to the Federal Register for public comment any day now. And this is such an important step in the process, and we are very happy to have gotten this point. The VOCA Comp Guidelines, which were last revised in 2001, clarify how federal formula funding from the Crime Victims Fund can be used to support state compensation programs. And over the past 2 years, OVC has undertaken numerous steps to update the federal guidelines to increase access to compensation, and help ensure that all victims and their families receive the comprehensive care and the compensation that they deserve. We talked with survivors, direct service providers, state administrators, national advocacy organizations, and our federal partners to understand how compensation access, equity, and support can be enhanced. Once is the rule is published, this will be your opportunity to provide feedback on proposed updates to those guidelines. So, once the rule is published, the comment period will be open for 60 days. I need to make one final note about the guidelines.
Once these have been released for public comment, no federal employees may engage in individual or private communications about the proposed rule during the open public comment period. So, if you do have a comment, please submit it via the Federal Register. And there will be a link--there will be a link on our website. But you will also be able to access that through the Federal Register's website.
And now for the Crime Victims Fund update. $141.5 million dollars was deposited into the CVF in the month of October 2023, bringing the balance to $1.169 billion. Now the majority of these deposits came from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, totaling $112.7 million dollars. So, thank you. Thank you VOCA Fix. We are awfully close to the $1.2 billion dollar cap that was put forward in the President’s proposed budget and in the House and Senate marks. We’re expecting the November numbers and day now, so keep an eye on the website for those and I'll also be discussing them at the broadcast in January.
Just so you know, I did have the opportunity to brief the Senate Judiciary Committee staffers on the status of the CVF. And they had lots of really good questions during the briefing and we're following up on some of their written questions that they've submitted. So I so appreciate their care and attention to the Crime Victims Fund.
And now for a few reminders:
- We’ve opened the submission period for population certifications for the FY ‘24 Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Program. OVC will use the information from the forms to allocate a portion of any Tribal Set-Aside Congress might authorize for FY '24 to each eligible applicant who submits a Population Certification Form. OVC will then notify each applicant of their award amount and invite them to submit a full application in response to the solicitation. So we expect the solicitation to come out in the spring of 2024. But the forms are due February 9th by 11:59 p.m. Alaska time.
- Speaking of the 2024 TVSSA program, we’re hosting a virtual Tribal Consultation on the Tribal Set-Aside on Wednesday, January 17th, and Thursday, January 18th, from 1:00-3:30 p.m. eastern time each day. We invite testimony from elected or appointed Tribal leaders, or someone designated by an elected or appointed Tribal leader. That designation must be provided in writing.
- In preparation, we’ve posted a report that provides a brief history of the program and how Tribal Set-Aside funds were obligated in FY ‘23 and a framing paper that includes questions for consultation participants to consider. So, for more information, go to the website ovc.ojp.gov/tvssa.
- Now last month, I announced an art initiative for our 2024 Indian Nations Conference. And I wanted to let you know that we just extended the deadline. Through this art initiative, we’re looking for original artwork from survivors, advocates, and representees from Tribal communities, which may be used on conference materials and displayed throughout the conference venue. The new submission deadline is December 22 and we hope that you will consider participating! And you can visit our website, ovc.ojp.gov for more information.
- I’m also going to give one last plug to complete your questionnaire for the National Census of Victim Service Providers, a BJS initiative for which OVC provides the financial support, or a lot of it, not all of it, but quite a bit of it. And, if your organization has not receive an invitation and should have, please visit our website and click on the “Be counted!” announcement on the homepage to access a link to receive an invitation. This census is just critical to our understanding of the current landscape of victim services across the country. And it will also be so beneficial to all of you in being able to better understand the scope of victim service provision cross the United States.
You know, as I reflect on this past year, what I am most grateful for have been the opportunities to travel around this great country and meet so many of you in the field and have you tell me that you actually listen to these broadcasts. Those connections have made such an impact on me, and a number of them have led to new opportunities for future learning and continued conversations.
I also know that for some of you, this time of year can be a chance to wind down, spend time with family. But some of you are going to end up working even harder. And for some, this could be a very stressful or difficult season in life. So, I hope all of you can find moments--even if they’re brief--of peace and comfort because you’re so deserving of it. So thank you all for everything that you do to help crime victims find their justice. And may you have a safe and happy New Year.
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.