Research and evaluation inform the victim services field and enhance its ability to provide comprehensive services that meet victims’ needs. Through a robust set of research and evaluation efforts, the Vision 21 initiative supports the development of a body of evidence-based knowledge for the field, including the ability to generate, collect, and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on victimization, emerging trends, services, enforcement efforts, and victim needs. The Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services Final Report highlighted the need to bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners in the field. It also noted that, “crime victim services must be designed with a clear understanding of who is victimized and by whom, what victims need, why some victims access services and others do not, and to what extent victims’ rights are enforced.” In FYs 2015 and 2016, OVC continued to support programs and initiatives dedicated to collecting and analyzing quantitative data, building a body of evidence-based knowledge, and developing program evaluations for victim service providers.
In FY 2016, OVC funded a new national center to provide training and technical assistance to enhance service providers’ capacity to support and integrate victim-related research and evaluation activities. Through a $4,999,976 grant, the Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA) is partnering with the Urban Institute and the National Center for Victims of Crime to launch a resource center providing myriad training and technical assistance on victim research and evaluation for VOCA agencies and their subgrantees. JRSA and its partners are working with OVC, the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, and the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards to identify and support 8–10 states where state Statistical Analysis Centers (SAC) and VOCA agencies collaborate on victim-related research and evaluation activities. The resource center will facilitate partnerships between the selected state SACs and VOCA agencies to expand state-level data collection and analysis efforts to identify crime victim needs, service gaps, and trends in victimization, in order to improve victim service planning and implementation, assemble a cadre of centers to promote research-to-practice in victim services, and employ innovative approaches to delivering training and technical assistance on research basics for practitioners.
In FYs 2015 and 2016, OVC funded two partner agencies—the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)—in their endeavors to generate, collect, and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on victimization.
OVC provided funding to BJS in FY 2016 to establish a national Victim Services Statistical Research Program, which includes the first National Census of Victim Service Providers, the National Survey of Victim Service Providers, and the National Survey of Hospital-Based Victim Services (in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics). Each survey produced new sources of data that can be used to address key questions such as the following:
Additionally, OVC provided funding to BJS in FY 2016 to support—
OVC has funded NIJ to conduct evaluations of a number of OVC demonstration projects. As an example, OVC 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. Evaluators are gathering perspectives from survivors, victim service providers, and key stakeholders about how services have changed; comparing these findings to the baseline measures; and documenting how the projects have adjusted over time to the needs of victims and the field.