Building a Collaborative Approach
The first task for the subgrantees was to build a diverse steering committee to guide and support their efforts. Task forces, community coalitions, advisory committees, and working groups were formed, with 6 to 32 active participants. All of the projects wanted to approach change as a community effort.
The members of each steering committee were varied and included—
- People with disabilities (including crime victims).
- Disability service providers.
- Medical, rehabilitation, and long-term care professionals.
- Victim advocates from domestic violence, sexual assault, and other service agencies.
- Law enforcement officers, forensic nurses, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, defense attorneys, probation officers, and judges.
- Persons representing specific groups of people with disabilities, including senior citizens, children, and residents of institutions.
- Transportation and housing providers working with people with disabilities.
- Representatives of government agencies that oversee services for people with disabilities (e.g., adult and child protective services, departments of mental health, departments of mental retardation, commissions for serving people who are blind or who have low vision, and commissions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, among others).
- Representatives from local school systems and universities, including those providing direct services to students with disabilities.
To develop and nurture a collaborative approach to addressing the issues, subgrantees sought to—
- Establish strong working relationships with other service providers and agencies serving crime victims and people with disabilities. The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Carbondale Police Department both forged partnerships with disability service providers, medical personnel, transportation providers, and advocacy groups in their area. Likewise, most other subgrantees made it a priority to form alliances with their local law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.
- Build community-based networks that bridge gaps and create a continuum of support for crime victims with disabilities. Some subgrantees, like the joint Stavros Center/Safe Passage project, took a holistic approach and recruited committee members from across the spectrum of support services available to people with disabilities in their target communities. This allowed them to share information and to collaborate, which ultimately led to enhanced services for crime victims with disabilities at all times, not just when provided in the immediate aftermath of victimization.
- Conduct community outreach that would not only expand the range of voices informing service provision, but also create new avenues for disseminating information concerning available services. Ability1st, the Chadwick Center for Children and Families, and other sites made it a priority to join existing networks and work groups as part of their collaborative efforts, and in doing so helped their outreach efforts hit the ground running.
The participants and partner organizations recruited by the subgrantees helped expand their knowledge of the populations they serve and of the issues that need to be addressed in their community.