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Promising Practices for Serving Crime Victims With Disabilities Toolkit
Publication Date: October 2008
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Plan for Sustainability

Following the core steps of collaboration, assessment, planning, and evaluation can help organizations continue to meet ongoing needs and identify new focus areas within the communities they serve. Sustaining momentum after a project is over can be challenging, but to truly improve community response to people with disabilities, progress must sustain itself through the efforts of those it has touched. You should consider the following questions during the final phase of your project:

  • What happens to crime victims with disabilities when the project is over?

  • How can organizations continue to make progress in this area?

  • Can successful partnerships and collaborations be maintained over time?

  • Are local agencies ready to respond, or is more training and support needed?

  • Will this project have a lasting impact on the community without continued funding?

Relationships and collaborations can have a far-reaching impact on the communities they serve. The project may be over, but that does not mean you have to stop providing needed services, meeting with interagency task forces and committees, developing new alliances, or providing cross-training and targeted outreach to the people and agencies you are working with, or hope to work with in the future.

The work of the 10 subgrantees offers the following strategies to help you sustain your improved service to crime victims with disabilities:

Institutionalize changes first, and lead by example by making sure that programs and services for crime victims with disabilities are physically accessible and free of other obstacles.

The subgrantees focused on improving their own accessibility to victims of crime with disabilities by providing regular and ongoing training to staff and volunteers, making physical modifications, and crafting new protocols for providing accessible services. In addition to setting this example, projects also budgeted funds to assist other victim service and criminal justice agencies in becoming more accessible (such as conducting accessibility surveys of crisis centers and police departments, making structural changes to buildings, and purchasing equipment such as TTYs for communicating with deaf crime victims and grab bars for bathrooms in emergency shelters for individuals whose mobility is hindered by a disability).

Other suggestions for institutionalizing physical accessibility include the following:

  • Make outreach and public awareness materials available in alternative formats (e.g., in large print and Braille, and on cassette tape) and update them annually.

  • Move to an accessible building. (NOVA and SACASA)

  • Make an inaccessible historic building accessible with extensive architectural modifications. (Ulster County Crime Victims Assistance Program)

  • Create private office space for intake interviews in a disability service agency and develop a training module for new staff that includes information about the criminal justice system and awareness of the needs of crime victims with disabilities. (Ability1st)

Maintain relationships and continue to measure changes, successes, and barriers in accessibility to victim services and the criminal justice system.

Ongoing partnerships with law enforcement, victim and crisis services, and other entities involved in serving crime victims with disabilities are essential to preserving the progress you have made and to meeting new challenges to accessibility that arise. These alliances can also provide avenues for evaluation, funding, training, and outreach—all critical to keeping services accessible for people with disabilities.

The following examples from subgrantees’ sustainability plans illustrate some ways that work can extend beyond the life of a single project or initiative:

  • RCCCM will participate in a working group on assessing rape examination kits to develop protocols for accommodations for survivors with disabilities. The organization will also hold training and discussions with sexual assault nurse examiners to ensure that they continue to be sensitive and responsive to sexual assault survivors with disabilities.

  • The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office is developing memorandums of understanding with its steering committee members to provide more coordinated services in the criminal justice system for crime victims with disabilities. The “Parish Level Interagency Agreement for Crime Victims Services” will be modified specifically for each partner agency and will include agreements to cooperate in planning and training on victims’ rights and self-advocacy, sharing records and information (in compliance with all statutes governing confidentiality), and exchanging information and consultation support.

  • Ability1st staff developed a training toolkit to be marketed to the criminal justice system in their service area, and will hold a “Day of Training” event each October to educate various service providers on issues related to the victimization of people with disabilities.

  • The Chadwick Center for Children and Families will provide annual training to staff at Adult Protective Services in San Diego on responding to reports of sexual assault for crime victims with developmental disabilities. The center will also cosponsor a booth with the Family Justice Center during San Diego’s annual “Domestic Violence Rally,” where staff can hand out resource information about victims with disabilities, their needs, and the services available to them.

  • SACASA will provide “Sexual Violence 101” training to the Southern Arizona Sexual Violence Disability Coalition at least once a year.

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