Grants to Support Families in the Justice System program (referred to as the Justice for Families Program) was authorized in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) to improve the response of the civil and criminal justice system to families with a history of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, or in cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse. The program supports the following activities for improving the capacity of courts and communities to respond to families affected by the targeted crimes:
- court-based and court-related programs;
- supervised visitation and safe exchange by and between parents;
- training for people who work with families in the court system;
- civil legal services; and the provision of resources in juvenile court matters.
In FY 2023, funds under the Justice for Families Program may be used for the purposes:
- (Purpose Area 1) Supervised visitation and safe exchange: Provide supervised visitation and safe visitation exchange of children and youth by and between parents in situations involving domestic violence, dating violence, child sexual abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
- (Purpose Area 3) Training for court-based and court-related personnel: Educate court-based and court-related personnel and court-appointed personnel (including custody evaluators and guardians ad litem) and child protective services workers on the dynamics of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, including information on perpetrator behavior, evidence-based risk factors for domestic and dating violence homicide, and on issues relating to the needs of victims, including safety, security, privacy, and confidentiality, including cases in which the victim proceeds pro se.
- (Purpose Area 4) Juvenile court resources: Provide appropriate resources in juvenile court matters to respond to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault (including child sexual abuse), and stalking and ensure necessary services dealing with the health and mental health of victims are available.
- (Purpose Area 5) Court and court-based programs and services: Enable courts or court-based or court-related programs to develop or enhance
- Court infrastructure, such as specialized courts, consolidated courts, dockets, intake centers, or interpreter services;
- Community-based initiatives within the court system, such as court watch programs, victim assistants, pro se victim assistance programs, or community-based supplementary services;
- Offender management, monitoring, and accountability programs;
- Safe and confidential information-storage and information-sharing databases within and between court systems;
- Education and outreach programs to improve community access, including enhanced access for underserved populations; and
- Other projects likely to improve court responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
- (Purpose Area 6) Civil legal assistance: Provide civil legal assistance and advocacy services, including legal information and resources in cases in which the victim proceeds pro se, to:
- Victims of domestic violence; and
- Nonoffending parents in matters: (i) that involve allegations of child sexual abuse; (ii) that relate to family matters, including civil protection orders, custody, and divorce; and (iii) in which the other parent is represented by counsel.
OVW is interested in funding projects that take a coordinated approach to helping families victimized by domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking as they navigate the justice system. To help achieve this coordinated approach, applicants may propose either a standard project or a comprehensive project.
- Standard Project: Applicants must propose activities either under purpose area 1 (supervised visitation) or 5 (courts). If an applicant is proposing to provide supervised visitation/safe exchange services (purpose area 1), the applicant must also propose activities under at least one additional purpose area. The courts purpose area (purpose area 5) can be addressed in combination with another purpose area or on its own under any one or more of purpose area 5 multiple sub-categories. However, applications that address pro se victim assistance programs (purpose area 5(b)) or propose education and outreach programs (purpose area 5(e)) must be proposed in combination with other purpose area 5 subcategories or (an) other purpose area(s)).
- Comprehensive Project: Applicants must propose activities under purpose areas 1 (supervised visitation), 5 (courts), and 6 (civil legal services). Applicants may include additional purpose areas in a comprehensive project application but are required to include purpose areas 1,5, and 6.
In FY 2023, OVW is interested in supporting the priority areas identified below. Applications proposing activities in the following areas will be given special consideration.
- Advance racial equity as an essential component of ending sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
- Increase access to justice for all survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, including through exploration of survivor-centered criminal justice system reform.
- Improve outreach, services, civil and criminal justice responses, prevention, and support for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking from underserved communities, particularly LGBTQ and immigrant communities.
Up to $13,000,000 was available in total funding for FY22 to fund up to 20 awards.
Up to $11,000,000 was available in total funding for FY20 and FY21 to fund up to 20 awards.
$14,191,208 was awarded to 26 projects in 2022. Recipients can be viewed here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1528676/download