AVA/OVW Conference Call – June 2013

Hello STOP Administrators!

Earlier this month, the AVA Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting via conference call with the OVW STOP Team.  In addition to our conversation with the STOP Team, Freda Westman, STOP Administrator from Alaska, joined this month’s call to talk about the STOP program in Alaska.

Alaska Presentation: Alaska has a 9-person staff which covers 14 programs including public safety, health and social services, corrections, education and early development, etc.  The Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault is made up of general public members and state department heads.  Alaska stakeholder meetings are held quarterly and are currently geared toward drafting their 2014 Implementation Plan.  20 programs are funded statewide through STOP – Freda handles 8 programs.  Currently no tribal programs are funded – Freda’s office is still trying to identify which tribes receive what monies.

A 2010 victimization survey was developed to establish baseline statistics for sexual assault in Alaska.  This survey was modeled after the CDC’s national standard but was limited to English speaking individuals residing in a home with phone service, so it was a somewhat limited study.  871 adult women were surveyed in May and June 2010.  Estimates show that nearly 48% were victims of IPV, including threats and physical violence.

Alaska covers 663,268 square miles but is the 4th least populated state.  A 2010 census shows Alaska’s population to be 714,142 with 50% of the state’s residents living in Anchorage.  Juneau is the capital of Alaska.  They also report having over 200 recognized tribes.

Challenges – A significant barrier to services in Alaska is that most rural areas do not have road systems connecting the communities – some places have just two barges a year that deliver supplies.  Hub communities are connected by Alaska airlines and may serve up to 50 villages. The primary urban areas are Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.  On-site evaluations take about 3-5 days per program and may include other program components, e.g. batterers intervention program, law enforcement, tribal, etc.

No law enforcement is present in many of the remote villages – others have village public safety hired by tribal organizations.  Oftentimes victims must leave their home village to access services and ongoing support is minimal to non-existence.  Alaska has a large immigrant population with only 16% reporting to be Alaskan native.  They report a high incidence of institutional racism and intergenerational trauma.  Alaska has some of the highest rates of DV and SA.  One of the Anchorage suburbs reportedly has the most diverse neighborhood in the US.  The Anchorage school district reports hearing 90 different languages in their classrooms.  The draw is the fishing industry, military bases, etc. – because there are jobs in Alaska, many families have moved there.

Some of the programs funded through STOP include the Alaska Network on DV and SA, offering legal advocacy and pro bono services. The state has 14 district attorney offices where a victim/witness coordinator is supported. The AK state troopers receive funding for a SA training coordinator.  The courts are funded for a bail condition pilot program as well as judicial and court personnel training.

Successes – governor has an initiative to end DV (they are currently in the 4th year in a 10 year goal), including a choose respect rally, men against DV, coaching boys to men, and other similar programs.  Every year more communities get involved and the initiatives are raising awareness.  The DV and SA Council was created in statute in 1981 and state law requires that various departments to work together on DV and SA for prevention and accountability.  Governor has committed to creating 15 village public safety positions each year.  They have created tools to monitor effectiveness of the governor’s initiative. Additionally, their congressional delegation is working on getting wi-fi and broadband throughout Alaska which will help tremendously with communication.


Outreach & Services to Underserved Populations: AVA inquired into the details of this program.  Michelle indicated this will be an open/ competitive discretionary program.  It was developed as a result of the narrow definition of culturally specific which essentially cut eligibility of many programs that were previously funded under the culturally specific discretionary program, e.g. projects offering services to victims with hearing impairments, etc.  This program may not roll out in 2014 but will likely be offered in 2015. It will be open to local, non-profit organizations.  While the state could be a partner to a project, the state will not be an eligible applicant under this program.

STOP/SASP: AVA had received information indicating that not all notices that impact both STOP and SASP are reaching SASP administrators.  Michelle Brickley stated that she uses the list from GMS that identifies the primary point of contact for the STOP Program.  She recommends that states list within their GMS program all contacts who should receive information.  Melissa will usually send out the same info to SASP administrators also using the GMS points of contacts for SASP.  In order that AVA can help in distributing information, Michelle will send contact info to Dorene Whitworth on SASP administrators who do not also administer STOP.

Michelle also indicated that they are working on the special conditions for STOP as it applies to the implementation plans before 2013 awards can go out.  They are also working to clarify the condition that addresses equipment for law enforcement so it is clearly stated that STOP funds cannot be used for standard-issue equipment.

Prevention Services and Health Care Providers: AVA asked if there was any updated information on this topic since last month’s call.  Michelle indicated they are still working on this and that it will be included in the guidance provided for the 2014 implementation planning.

Implementation Plan Toolkit and Administrator’s Manual: OVW continues to meet every other week with the goal of developing an implementation planning toolkit based on the new criteria in VAWA 2013.  They hope to have something available soon.

Omar discussed that revisions to the STOP Administrators Manual are ongoing.  ALSO is currently providing additional information to OVW about how this manual can be best used by STOP administrators.

2014 STOP Conference: AVA had inquired about next year’s STOP conference and the cost restrictions under which OVW is working.  OVW is considering whether regional meetings would be effective.  AVA had made suggestions relating to travel costs that might help alleviate some of the problems OVW is facing; however, Michelle indicated that cooperative agreements have already been awarded for TA providers which cover the 2013, 2014 and 2015 conferences.  While no changes have be made at this time, OVW will continue to work with ALSO and other TA providers on how best to conduct future conference.

Next Call: July 1st at 11:00 EST is the date/time scheduled for our next meeting between OVW and the AVA Board of Directors.

AVA would like to thank Freda Westman for doing the presentation on the Alaska STOP program.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns that AVA can assist with, or if you would like to contact Freda in Alaska, please contact Dorene Whitworth at (775) 721-4691 or dorene.whitworth@yahoo.com.