Targeting Three Core Areas
Using the knowledge and relationships gained through collaboration, the strengths and weaknesses identified through assessment, and the resultant strategies, each project began implementing their plans. Their work can best be summarized by looking at three core areas of activity common to all the subgrantees:
Develop and promote resources, innovative processes, curricula, and strategic partnerships to help local service providers overcome obstacles to providing appropriate services for crime victims with disabilities.
All the subgrantees developed and nurtured collaborations and cross-discipline alliances that aided their efforts to improve services and supports for this population. The 10 projects partnered with various disability service and support organizations, from state-level agencies to local first responders and individual advocates.
Six subgrantees developed new curricula, manuals, handbooks, videos, and DVDs that greatly expanded the reach of their efforts by making disability-specific best practices and information available for use by a wide range of professionals. Some projects also hired disability advocates to improve the effectiveness of their services and build bridges to the larger disability community.
The Partnership Against Domestic Violence took an innovative approach to addressing safe and affordable housing, a common obstacle for its constituency, by working with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to create Section 8 vouchers reserved specifically for domestic violence survivors with disabilities. The mapping model/flow chart employed by the Stavros Center/Safe Passage program was another effective innovation, used to track the justice system’s response to crime victims with disabilities and pinpoint any problems that occurred.
Provide training and technical assistance to organizations serving crime victims and people with disabilities.
All the project sites promoted community dialogue and better service coordination by offering training, technical assistance, and resources to professionals who work with people with disabilities. In all, the subgrantees trained more than 4,000 professionals during the project, including law enforcement personnel; first responders; disability, domestic violence, and sexual assault service providers; state agency personnel; and other professionals.
The subgrantees also educated hundreds of people with disabilities in personal safety measures they can take to protect themselves, understanding crime and exploitation, and what resources are available to them. For example, the Network of Victim Assistance, an organization that victims may not have known about previously, provided case management and advocacy support to 55 crime victims with disabilities who had reported an incident and were navigating the criminal justice system.
Expand outreach efforts to people with disabilities using all venues available, including public service announcements, Web sites, printed materials, and community-based learning opportunities.
Each subgrantee developed outreach efforts and materials to bring information to people with disabilities in familiar formats, places, and media outlets. They ran radio spots; displayed posters on city buses; attended community meetings and forums; advertised in free local newspapers; distributed refrigerator magnets, fliers, brochures, and trifold wallet cards; and provided palm cards for emergency personnel to leave with victims. Using the speaker’s bureau it created, the Stavros Center/Safe Passage partnership had survivors of crime who have disabilities present safety information to their peers.
The Carbondale Police Department provided one of the best examples of how a multifaceted approach to outreach can improve services. They started a twice-weekly security check system in which a community services officer and a personal care attendant would visit up to a dozen crime victims with disabilities who requested the service. The department also purchased an accessible van to transport crime victims with disabilities to criminal justice appointments, victim support groups, and related events. They also created http://www.carbondalepolice.com/, an accessible Web site with comprehensive information that is of specific interest to people with disabilities. The site features a message board, calendar of disability-related services, information about the department’s Police Advocacy Services, and a list of personal care attendants screened and interviewed by both the department and the Southern Illinois Center for Independent Living. The site also provides resources for transportation, housing, safety planning, and other needs, as well as answers to frequently asked questions.
Links to all project Web sites and more information on successful project strategies and activities can be found in the toolkit.