Transforming Victims Services Through Research & Evaluation
A key component of OVC’s strategy to build capacity in crime victim services is supporting research that will inform implementation of program planning and provide more effective victim services. In the Vision 21 Report, OVC recognized the need to “support the development of research to build a body of evidence-based knowledge and generate, collect, and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on victimization, emerging victimization trends, services and behaviors, and victims’ rights enforcement efforts.”2 There is a dearth of data about crime victims, and more statistical information is needed to answer the following important questions:
- Who is victimized, by what crimes, and by whom?
- Who seeks and who does not seek services, and why?
- Which victims report crime to law enforcement, which do not, and why?
- How are victims’ legal rights enforced in the United States?
Victim-related research is necessary to determine existing gaps, inform victim service organization programming and project implementation, and ensure that victims’ needs are met. OVC recognizes the importance of supporting critical victim-related research conducted by our partner federal agencies. In FYs 2013 and 2014, OVC funded the following Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and National Institute of Justice (NIJ) programs to collect and analyze quantitative data, build a body of evidence-based knowledge, and develop program evaluations for victim service organizations. These comprehensive studies will contribute significantly to the knowledge base of new and emerging aspects of victimization:
- Data Collection From Persons With Disabilities
- Support for National Survey of Victim Service Organizations
- Understanding Crime Data
- Evaluation of Wraparound Victim Legal Assistance Network
- Evaluation of OVC-Funded Demonstration Program Sites
- Bridging the Gap in Victim-Related Research to Practice
Data Collection From Persons With Disabilities
One of the most vulnerable groups of individuals are those with disabilities because their physical, social, or emotional conditions may limit their activities of daily life and restrict them from fully participating in the community or at school, work, or home.3 People with disabilities are nearly 50 percent more likely to experience violent victimization than those without disabilities.4 For youth between the ages of 12 and 15, the violent victimization rate is nearly three times higher for those with disabilities than those without them.5 OVC is funding a BJS study of Criminal Victimization of Persons with Disabilities Residing in Group Quarters (CVGQ), designed to analyze victim service organizations’ ability to collect self-reported victimization data from people with disabilities who live in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and veterans’ homes.
Support for National Survey of Victim Service Organizations
OVC funded BJS’ first National Survey of Victim Service Organizations (NSVSO) to collect comprehensive statistical information about how victim service organizations are funded and organized, and discover their areas of need. The NSVSO is being administered in two phases. In Phase I, a broad, online survey will be issued to a wide range of victim service organization leaders and staff throughout the country to capture the fundamental elements of victim service organizations. Cognitive testing of the draft survey has been completed in preparation for the Web-based survey’s release to 21,000 victim service providers by the end of 2015. After BJS has collected and analyzed the data, it will commence Phase II, issuing a longer, more narrowly focused form of the survey to the most representative victim service providers. For the most up-to-date information about the NSVSO, please visit BJS’ NSVSO Web site.
Understanding Crime Data
OVC’s Eight Benefits of NIBRS to Victim Service Providers serves as an online resource to aid victim service organizations in understanding the importance of crime data in developing effective practices and solutions for victims. As a system for reporting crimes known to the police, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) offers data about crime incidents that may be of key interest to victim service providers, researchers, and policymakers—data that can be used to design more effective victim service programs. Currently, only 16 states submit all of their crime data via NIBRS. In FYs 2013 and 2014, OVC provided funding to help support BJS’ National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X), a new initiative to develop a statistical system that can generate detailed national estimates of the volume and characteristics of crimes known to law enforcement. As a resource for the field, OVC’s e-Bulletin describes how victim service providers can use such data to gain a better understanding of specific types of victimization, determine disparities between victims known to law enforcement and those receiving victim services, and identify underserved groups of crime victims.
Evaluation of Wraparound Victim Legal Assistance Network
OVC has funded NIJ to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Wraparound Victim Legal Assistance Network demonstration project to track and document the grantees’ planning and implementation milestones. Evaluators conducted a baseline study to measure experiences and perceptions of services prior to implementation. The evaluators are closely monitoring the implementation status of sites to determine when to close the baseline study due to services changing to a given threshold level.
Evaluation of OVC-Funded Demonstration Program Sites
OVC funded three nonprofit organizations under the FY 2009 Services for Domestic Minor Victims of Human Trafficking Demonstration Program to implement a comprehensive strategy for the provision of services to victims of sex trafficking and labor trafficking who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents under the age of 18. For 3 years, the funded organizations—The Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) Project (San Francisco), The Salvation Army STOP-IT Program (Chicago), and Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project (New York City)—worked to identify and comprehensively serve trafficked youth and improve the community response to this population. The organizations also participated in an OVC-funded process evaluation administered by NIJ. The project’s final technical report was released in February 2015; it includes information about the population of victims served by the demonstration sites, the ways in which the organizations engaged and served minors, and information about the successes and challenges that each organization faced. The report also includes corresponding recommendations and key considerations for serving youth who are victims of human trafficking.
Bridging the Gap in Victim-Related Research to Practice
Social science research and evaluation may be greatly beneficial to crime victim assistance organizations in providing cost-effective and efficient services. OVC recognizes the need to aid the field in obtaining more knowledge and awareness about research and evaluation that can enhance victim services. To ensure that research and evaluation have tangible benefits for victim service organizations, researchers must develop ways to translate their results for a practitioner audience and to have practitioners inform their research efforts. OVC funded the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) in FY 2013 to assess victim service providers’ knowledge of and awareness about the value of research and evaluation to the field, and to determine researchers’ interest in and capacity for making their findings accessible to crime victim stakeholders. NCVC, in partnership with the Urban Institute and the Justice Research and Statistics Association, is conducting a multifaceted assessment that includes a literature review of prior efforts to integrate research and lessons learned, interviews and surveys of researchers and practitioners, and an analysis of six case studies that involve efforts to integrate victim-related research and practice. Findings and recommendations will be published in a final report.