New Victims Assistance Initiatives for 2017

As part of our ongoing goal to meet the needs of victims of crime in Texas more fully and support them in their recovery and restoration, the Criminal Justice Division (CJD) of the Office of the Governor is committing $20 million to the launch of three new victim assistance initiatives:

Applications for these initiatives will open on March 27, 2017, and must be certified by May 30, 2017.

College Campus Initiative

It is critical that college students who become victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or other crimes on campuses can immediately access a full array of victim services and have the option to report the crime or to have services remain confidential.

With the College Campus Initiative, CJD seeks to increase the availability of victim services on campuses by awarding grants to institutions of higher education to establish or expand on-campus victim services programs.

This initiative not only provides needed victim services, but also includes “Confidential Victims Services Providers”, or advocates who counsel victims confidentially and help them navigate services without divulging any details to law enforcement or campus authorities, except as required by law or at the request of the victim. This new Confidential Victims Services Provider, who can be fully funded under the grant, allows colleges and universities to extend full services to their students with the same level of confidentiality given to other crime victims, while remaining in full compliance with Title IX requirements.

  • Projects may not exceed a 12-month period and must begin between August 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018.
  • See the full funding announcement for more information.
  • Applicants receiving awards must file the required certification of confidential services before projects begin.

Transitional Housing Initiative

For many victims, especially of domestic violence or sexual assault, relocating to housing that is secure and separate from the victimizer is a critical part of keeping them safe and on the path to restoration. CJD has traditionally focused direct services funding on short-term shelter and services, but after assessing the current needs of Texans and in response to input by victim advocates, CJD has decided to begin addressing the longer-term needs of victims through the Transitional Housing Initiative.

Under this initiative, CJD will award funds for transitional housing expenses – such as rental assistance, security deposits, relocation, and support services – in the context of a full-scale transitional housing program that provides an array of services, including counseling, assistance in seeking employment, and other support that fosters stability and independence. Applications may request funding for such services in addition to housing-related expenses, and all activities and expenses generally eligible under the General Victim Assistance (VOCA) funding announcement are also eligible under the initiative. As under VOCA, the purchase of property, renovations, or other capital expenses are not eligible expenses.

Applications may be submitted by rape crisis centers, emergency shelters and other non-profit, non-governmental organizations with an established record of effectiveness and a primary focus on providing direct supportive services to domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking victims/survivors. Applicants must have existing facilities that either already serve as transitional housing (NOT emergency shelter) or that can be easily converted to serve such a purpose, or must be prepared and able to lease apartments under the agency.

  • Projects may not exceed a 24-month period and must begin between October 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018.
  • See the full funding announcement for more information.
  • Applicants receiving awards must file the required services certification before projects begin.

Sexual Assault Forensic Services Initiative
In Texas, every victim of sexual assault is entitled to a forensic exam at a local hospital. Many best practices exist to support victims through what can be an overwhelming process. CJD seeks to support the use of the best practices for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs and multi-disciplinary Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART). As a result, CJD is launching the Sexual Assault Forensic Services Initiative to help service providers move towards adoption of best practices through the creation, improvement, or expansion of SANE and SART programs.

  • SANE: To support achievement of best practices for SANE programs, CJD will award funds for cameras, colposcopes, and other equipment used in the performance of forensic services. Many local exam providers lack the resources to purchase this critical equipment, which is needed to perform the full and effective collection of evidence necessary to successfully investigate and prosecute sexual assaults.
  • SART: To improve the services and responses that accompany exams, CJD strongly encourages applications for training, salaries, and other expenses associated with SART programs, including the presence of victim advocates to accompany and counsel sexual assault victims.

CJD understands that achieving best practices take time.  We will not require that programs meet all best practices immediately, but only that programs use the grant to move towards that goal in a meaningful way.  As a first step down that road, CJD will require that recipients of the first round of grants either apply for funds to hire at least one victim advocate or certify that they have such employees already in place. Applicants may also request funds for other services associated with the first-96-hours response to sexual assaults, and all such activities and expenses generally eligible under the General Victim Assistance (VOCA) program are also eligible under this initiative. Grants may not be used for medical training or to supplant currently available funds from law enforcement, Crime Victim’s Compensation, or other agencies.

Applications may be submitted by rape crisis centers, emergency shelters, and other non-profit, non-governmental organizations with an established record of effectiveness and a primary focus on providing direct supportive services to sexual assault and human trafficking victims/survivors.

  • Projects may not exceed a 12-month period and must begin between October 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018.
  • See the full funding announcement for more information.

Related information and resources:

  • CJD will directly review applications for funding (they will not be reviewed by local Criminal Justice Advisory Committees).
  • The funding announcements apply only to applications for new projects – continuation applications for projects currently funded by CJD should be submitted through their traditional grant program.
  • Go to eGrants.gov.texas.gov for more information and to apply.
  • For more information, contact Cecilia Granger Acuff, 512-463-8229