AVA/OVW Conference Call Summary – October 2015
Conference Call Meeting between AVA& OVW
Date: Monday, October 5, 2015
Time: 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
OVW Staff: Associate Director Michelle Brickley, Program Managers Kim Galvan, Omar Mohammed, and Paule Tessier, Debbie Bright, Cathy Posten, Ginger Baran.
AVA Board Members:, Cecilia Miller, Julia Fuller-Wilson, MaryEllen Garcia
AVA Exec. Dir.: Dorene Whitworth
The sole topic for this month’s call centered around the revisions being made to the Muskie reporting forms to accommodate the changes of VAWA 2013. OVW has nearly completed the revisions using input previously provided by administrators through AVA. The purpose of this call was to clarify a few additional items that were previously raised regarding the administrator and subgrantee forms. Below are the original questions and the answers provided by OVW. The comments in blue are the additional discussions held during today’s call.
Q: Inconsistencies between STOP and SASP forms. This comes into play since nearly all administrators are running both programs within their offices. Is there a specific reason why administrators must do separate SASP reports for each fiscal year open during the report period as opposed to the STOP report which covers multiple fiscal years on one report? Some have voiced that their preference is the STOP multiple year form as it allows them to account for awards that are split-funded across fiscal years. Having separate forms for each fiscal year becomes more labor intensive.
A: The main reason was because the SASP Formula awards are smaller and more focused in scope, which we anticipated would result in spending down the awards more quickly. As a result, the awards would be closing more rapidly and OVW wanted there to be a mechanism to close the award with a final report in GMS, which means that a report needs to be done for every open award. For STOP, since only one report is done for each open award, OVW has no way to receive a final report for the award that is being closed. Instead the state submits a word document asking brief questions about the project and that document is attached to the closeout. Additionally because SASP is a relatively new program where we are often asked to demonstrate the accomplishments it was best that states report on each fiscal year in separate reports.
Q: Re-allocations. As you know, VAWA 2013 allows for reallocation of funds from one category to another if administrators are unable to award all the funds in a particular category – either they don’t receive sufficient or qualifying applications or funds are returned to them. Will there be somewhere on the new forms where this is reported or where the circumstances of the reallocation can be explained? Clearly there is a potential for the categories to be out of balance with the original proscribed percentages. Will this impact the validation process?
A: We are addressing this by adding the following narrative question within the revised STOP Administrator’s Progress Reporting Form. This will not impact the validation process, as responses will be optional.
7B. percentage of allocations If any of the required allocation percentages has not been met, describe the circumstances that led to the failure to reach the allocation and the efforts that have been made to meet the allocation. If any of the required allocation percentages has not been met with FFY 14 or later funding, describe if, and how, those funds were reallocated. (Maximum 2,000 characters.)
Q:20% set aside for sexual assault services. Currently Question 9 asks for the percentage of funds awarded in the current report period for DV, SA or stalking. Will a state be able explain that they are still using FY 2013 or earlier monies if they show less than 20% awarded for SA services since that mandate doesn’t come into play until FY 2014 funds.
A: We’ve addressed this by adding a question to specifically address sexual assault awards:
8C. Sexual assault awards For every federal fiscal year award made with the 20 percent set-aside for sexual assault during the current reporting period, indicate within the appropriate allocation categories the number of awards made, the amounts awarded, and the percentage of the total State STOP Award. Also, indicate on your list of active subgrants those that have a primary focus on sexual assault.
|% Total State STOP Award
|% Total State STOP Award
|% Total State STOP Award
Q: Question 8A addresses the culturally specific set aside. Will the question for the SA set aside be similar? Will there need to be any different consideration if the culturally specific program is also part of the SA set aside?
A: We are hopeful that the above additional question (8C) will address the concerns mentioned here. Additionally, we added language in the narrative question (8B) pertaining to culturally-specific awards, where an Administrator may elaborate on the specifics, such as if the culturally-specific award is part of the sexual assault set aside. We highlighted the enhanced language below. See:
8B. Culturally specific victim services awards (If you have any information regarding the Culturally-Specific Victim Services Awards that you want to bring to the attention of OVW, please provide this here. For example, if your culturally specific victim service awards do not represent 10% of your victim service allocation, please explain why and detail what efforts are being made to increase representation of culturally specific victim service providers in your subgrantee population. Or, if the Culturally-Specific Allocations also include awards with a primary focus on sexual assault, this should be noted here. Maximum 2,000 characters.)
Q: Appendix A is to be used for monies awarded in the current reporting period. Will there be a column added for the SA set aside similar to the column for culturally specific? Will Appendix B also ask about SA set aside monies even though for this year it won’t apply but potentially could in future years?
A: We’ve addressed this by adding columns for both Sexual Assault-related awards and Culturally-Specific-related awards in both Appendix A and Appendix B. By the time the revised forms are ready for implementation, the SA set aside will be applicable.
Q: Client count vs. services provided. Subgrantees have voiced concern about not being able to accurately reflect the services being offered. For example, they would like a way to account for duplicated clients and the total services they receive. While they see the value in knowing the number of clients served, they would also like to indicate how many times a client was served. Many of their clients come back for repeat services. It may be good to have both numbers – obviously we would not want a program that only sees 3 different clients in a year, but if a program is seeing 20 different clients and only sees them each once, I wouldn’t say they are more successful. Having the total number of services could be a way to gauge the long term healing of clients.
A: Early on, OVW made the decision to “count” the number of victims served; and not necessarily count [all] the services provided, as our goal is to provide an unduplicated count of all victims served (fully and partially) to Congress. We do not wish to change the way in which we are counting services at this point. However, there are two enhancements that will be integrated into the revised progress reports that are pertinent to this issue. The first is that we will be adding a question to measure multiple victimizations that victims/survivors may experience:
- Number of victims/survivors served for all types of victimizations
(For each victim reported as served or partially served in question XX, report any additional types of victimizations for which they received xxxx Program-funded services during the current reporting period. Report a victim under each additional victimization in the row that corresponds to the victimization you reported that victim under in question XX. Report a victim only once under each additional victimization.)
Trafficking is defined as sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; and/or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
|Number of victims/survivors
|Domestic violence/dating violence
|Domestic violence/dating violence
Note: shaded cells are pre-populated from the previous victim services question that asks for the total number of victims served and partially served, but requires grantees to choose only one victimization category to report in
Additionally, with the expanded allowability of legal services, we will be adding a detailed section that will track the specific legal issues addressed on behalf of each victim, and the outcomes for those issues resolved during the reporting period.
We discussed whether DV and dating violence were to be split out for reporting purposes, especially in light of the new definition of “youth” which allows services to be provided to younger victims than previously allowed. The challenge here is that there is no clear transition from dating violence to DV which can occur at any age so it was decided to leave these combined.
Q: At some point it might be helpful to revisit the crime categories and law enforcement references. Subgrantees could benefit from knowing more specifics on what each indicator means and doesn’t mean, what it includes and does not include. In some cases the definitions used by local agencies – especially criminal justice agencies – don’t match with the “ideal” that is asked on the reporting form. This leads to needing to make judgment calls about how to report accurately but not have to make a whole separate reporting system just to meet the requirements of this grant, and not necessarily being able to follow the numbers through each section to compare apples to apples.
A: We are uncertain as to what you are asking in this question, and will need to clarify exactly what you mean when we speak to you in early October.
Q: The classification of “Cases” rather than “Charges” in the prosecution section disposition table can be very tricky. Oftentimes a “case” has multiple charges and subgrantees are left questioning whether the case should be categorized by the most serious charge, and that particular charge be represented on the table. This classification is not easily done, and our local folks are not comfortable doing that, because if you have felony charges in all areas – sexual assault, stalking, and DV – who’s to say which is more serious? Same for misdemeanor categories. Reporting this way, you lose a lot of information…if that particular charge that you designated as most serious gets dropped or dismissed, but another charge is enhanced as part of the plea, that info would not be represented on that table.
A: We acknowledge that the distinction of “cases” rather than “charges’ may be challenging to collect. At the same time, we recognize that multiple charges may be pursued within one case, and oftentimes multiple charges may be dismissed within one case. We feel that tracking cases is a more accurate reflection of the outcome. We are certainly willing to tighten up the instructions on the progress reporting form, and will work with Muskie to do so. Additionally, this question brought up a discussion among ourselves of the potential need for Muskie to provide training to STOP Subgrantees, and we’d like to discuss this further with you in October.
There has been confusion voiced in both the prosecution and law enforcement categories regarding incident-based reporting vs. most serious charge. Often times a “case” involves multiple charges, e.g. kidnapping, SA, DV, etc. It was discussed that if the DV or SA charges are dropped, the case should still be counted since it was all related. This may be more of a training issue for subgrantees in that these forms are not intended to be criminal justice reporting documents but are designed to capture grant activity. What it is trying to capture is the number of cases initiated as opposed to dispositions. For prosecutors, they will need to track general outcome, e.g. pled guilty, pled to lesser, etc. Law enforcement won’t need to track outcomes of cases they investigate. The narrative section would be the place to expand upon data. OVW will modify the instructions and may tweak the narrative question for this area.
Q: Similar to above, in the law enforcement section, trying to classify cases by primary victimization seems almost impossible – and organizing any data to reflect this is even more difficult. To know which sexual assault arrests also had a DV related arrest, be able to have a reporting system that can pull those numbers, and to distinguish at the law enforcement level what the primary victimization is.
A: We will be revising our instructions to subgrantees on the issue of “primary victimization”. A good way to look at it is the “presenting victimization”. Therefore, in a law enforcement situation, if the call was for a domestic violence incident, and that is, in fact, what the officer found when she/he arrived upon the scene, then it would be coded as a domestic violence victimization.
This is a challenging area and OVW has spent a great deal of time talking with law enforcement about what works. It really comes down to subgrantees using their best judgment on what to report. Perhaps they could consider what triggered the initial 911 call? Again, this is not criminal justice reporting – perhaps subgrantees could look to what type of crime involved the call for an arrest being made. Grantees may seek to capture the severity of the situation however recognizing the assignment can change. This is aggregated information of activities vs. criminal justice reporting. It was discussed that the term “primary” victimization might be creating confusion too because law enforcement is already making determinations on “primary” aggressor. Changing this term to “presenting” victimization could help resolve some of the confusion.
Q: Many agencies don’t have the type of data system capabilities required to accurately pull data for the grant report. A good example of that is Probation – they use a case management system that can track certain basic data but not the level of disposition data asked on the form.
A: If the person is paid for by VAWA funds, then they should be able to identify the disposition. We’re not suggesting you change your entire system, but subgrantees should be able to track the VAWA-funded cases. Muskie does have a database for subgrantees to use for collecting their data, which is available for download on their website: http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/vawamei/stopformuladb.htm
Q: When you have supervisors funded, the data can be tricky because that person supervises ALL the cases/victims for the department or agency, but their individual involvement in cases is often not something they track and don’t have the capacity to track and report. If the subgrantee reports the numbers for the entire unit they supervise, a red flag report is prompted due to having the numbers too high for 1 FTE because some subgrantees have to use the entire unit’s numbers.
A: If the “entire unit” is VAWA-funded, then the grantee is reporting correctly. Yes, it may generate a “red flag” report with Muskie, if it appears to be out of the ordinary. The “red flag” system is not perfect, as it does pick up on any outliers and will generate a call or email from the Muskie team.
The only time all victims would be counted is if the entire unit is funded. Reporting all cases by a funded supervisor of the unit would artificially inflate the numbers. Supervisors may be responsible for focusing on better addressing victim needs but do not actually work directly with victims; therefore, no activities are counted. If funds are for training vs. staff – no activities are reported under victim services. It was suggested that subgrantees use the narrative to discuss increased focus, improved response, benefits of training, etc.
Q: My understanding of the Muskie form is that you are supposed to pro-rate each funded person’s numbers according to how much of their salary is covered. So if the victim advocate is funded .5FTE, only .5 of her data should be reported in the Victim Service section. Same for any section. This can be confusing for collaborative projects in that partner agencies may not all be reporting the same way.
A: You are correct on how this scenario should be reported. This is a training issue. Muskie does offer the online self-paced tutorial on STOP subgrantee reporting, which is available for use by administrators and subgrantees alike at http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/vawamei/stopformulatrain.htm#online. Additionally, the Muskie team is always available to respond to any questions STOP subgrantees may have.
Q: This comment is similar to the issue above on counting the victim by the number of times she seeks services. The difference in instructions in question 29 on the Muskie form compared to question 25 creates confusion. #29 says that if a victim experienced more than one victimization type, that they can be counted in each category of victimization. Question #25 says that if victims experienced more than one victimization, they should be counted only once under the “primary victimization”. This is difficult for some grantees and would actually require two different tracking methods in some agencies.
A: Please see the above response related to the new proposed question concerning victims who have experienced multiple victimizations, which will be implemented with the revised progress reporting forms.
Q: There is no good way to systematically determine primary victimization. If someone presents with more than one issue at the same time, which is common, how to you “prioritize” or assign severity to one issue?
A: As mentioned previously, we will be tightening up the instructions related to “primary victimization”. This is not about prioritizing a particular victimization or assigning severity of one victimization over another; alternatively, this may be easier understood by tracking the presenting victimization.
Q: In the policies section, the current categories are VS, LE, Prosecution, Courts, Probation/Parole, and Healthcare. Many jurisdictions are working on policies that affect multiple disciplines. An example of this would be a statewide lethality assessment project which involves multiple agencies. Although grantees are discouraged from using the “other” category, multi-disciplinary projects don’t fit into the other categories. Perhaps the policies section might be better identified under the topics of DV, SA, Stalking and Dating Violence.
A: We did consider your suggestion, but will be retaining the categories as they are currently found in the progress report. With every change that is made in a progress report, there is a cost. We’re trying to keep the changes within the progress reports to those that are necessary due to VAWA 2013. With that said, you will see two additions to the “Policy” categories:
- Appropriate response to victims whose sexual orientation/identity affects their access; and,
- Appropriate response to victims who are incarcerated
It’s certainly fine for subgrantees to utilize the “other” category if they do not find the fields/choices within the progress reporting form to be sufficient, or use the optional narrative question to describe the multi-disciplinary initiatives or anything else, for that matter, that doesn’t fit into the existing categories or structure currently provided.
Q: Muskie analysis. Another concern expressed is that the information provided in the reports is analyzed, it seems, based only on the applicant agency thereby creating red flag reports unnecessarily. By way of example, many states award their subgrants to one lead agency in a collaborative partnership. Therefore, a criminal justice agency (recipient) might be passing down some monies to a non-profit victim services agency. When they complete the annual report, they report in the “victim advocate” (non-governmental) category as opposed to the “victim assistant” (governmental) category. A red flag is prompted because there is an expectation that the recipient should be reporting in the governmental capacity even though the reality is that they are reporting on activity relating to the funds they passed down to a non-governmental partner.
A: Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention; and we will certainly discuss with Muskie to see if they are able to modify this red flag field.
Q: Consideration for the 20% SA Set-Aside. Many states require their funds be awarded to multi-disciplinary collaborative projects. The applicant agency may have 12 or more budgets for partner agencies in the VS, LE and/or prosecution categories that they are tracking. Since the 20% set-aside must include two or more allocation categories, states and their subgrantees are having some logistical challenges on how best to track and show this. We recognize this is a statutory mandate so perhaps we could strategize together on some helpful ideas for tracking this. We might even follow that up with a call to administrators to discuss ideas with those struggling with this issue.
A: We would be interested in hearing any thoughts you may have when we speak in October.
Philosophical discussion – we discussed how to determine whether the services are meaningful at the time of the application, thereby meeting the definition of the set-aside. This is primarily a judgment call on the part of the administrator but coalitions can help in making the determination. After the award, subrecipient monitoring may be the more appropriate place to identify whether the activities did in fact “meaningfully address” sexual assault.
Another question discussed was whether the funds and percentages reported in the administrator’s report need to correlate to the sexual assault activities reported in the subgrantee report. OVW does not make these types of comparisons.
Pennsylvania has provided a document they use in helping subgrantees identify what amounts within a multi-disciplinary project qualify for the set aside. We’ve attached that for your reference.
WHEN WILL THE REPORT BE READY??
The revised form must go through the OMB approval process first. Once approved, the GMS technicians need to incorporate the changes. The revised form most likely will not be available for the March 31 reporting cycle but they will let us know.
Next Conference Call: November 2nd @ 11:00 EST
 Draft as of 9/29/15