Strengthening victim services in the Last Frontier

Dec 19, 2019
4 MIN. READ
ICF helps Alaska communities build capacity for crime victim service programs

Alaska is beautiful and rugged. It’s home to the highest peak in North America (Denali), more than half of the U.S. coastline, and the largest population of bald eagles in the U.S. It’s also, unfortunately, home to an extremely high level of domestic violence.

As ICF works to build a more prosperous and resilient world for all, we also work with Alaska state and tribal entities to confront, and reduce, these startling statistics.
  • The rate of rape is 2.5 times the national average.
  • 59% of Alaskan women have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both.
  • 30% of Alaskans don’t have access to victim services.
  • 1 in 3 Alaskan communities have no law enforcement.

The challenge is immense. But resilience and optimism remain strong in this state, among population of fewer than 800,000—about 10 percent of whom come from one of 229 federally recognized tribes.

ICF’s Victim Services team works with Alaska state and tribal entities to maximize residents’ resilience, support their grants financial management, and minimize survivors’ trauma.

How communities find financial resources

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) created the OVC Tribal Financial Management Center (TFMC). TFMC provides training and technical assistance (TTA) and resources to support American Indian and Alaska Native communities as they successfully manage the financial aspects of various federal awards. Thanks to this additional program, indigenous communities now also receive TTA and resources to navigate financial aspects of their Tribal Victim Services awards.

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Almost a quarter of the 236 total OVC TFMC grantees are in Alaska.

From logo creation to orientation materials to the mobile first website, TFMC ensures training and technical assistance is culturally humble, relevant, and accessible to grantees.

Our work is divided across two projects. Together, they support tribal communities with their goal to improve services for victims of crime.
Sheree Hukill
Sheree Hukill

Spreading awareness

It starts with the acknowledgement that this work matters. Our regional team regularly travels to Alaska in support of grantees as well as cultural and contractual events. For example, project director Sheree Hukill has participated in a Department of Justice government-to-government tribal consultation in Fairbanks and a memorial walk for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and visited grantees in Anchorage, Akiachak, Akiak, Juneau, Knik,  Nenana, Tetlin and Utqiaġvik—ground zero for climate change research. (In some ways, promoting the link between climate change and domestic violence. “Bottom line: In an ever-warming world, expect more wars, civil unrest, and strife, and also more violent crime in general,” Stanford University researcher Marshall Burke told the Washington Post.) “These trips have heightened my resolve to listen deeply to Alaskan Natives’ concerns and structure culturally humble, fiscally responsible, and individualized TTA responses,” she says.

 

The DELTA Impact

It continues with the Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances Impact (DELTA Impact). This program—part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—funds state domestic violence coalitions to implement strategies designed to prevent intimate partner violence. Through our longtime partnership with the CDC, we conduct webinars and in-person trainings to develop, implement, and evaluate statewide and local level primary prevention of interpersonal violence plans.

ICF is a key partner for the biannual Alaska Prevention Summit—a 3-day primary prevention and evaluation capacity building conference through Alaska’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

DELTA Impact builds off our project work with a previous iteration of this intimate partner violence program. And continues our efforts to build evaluation capacity and increase stakeholder engagement and ownership. Working with a 20-member statewide leadership team (including tribal elders, local shelter representatives, State of Alaska partners, and community members), we align training and technical assistance with community needs.

Gretchen Clarke
Gretchen Clarke

Gretchen Clarke, an Alaska resident and ICF research scientist, leads this project to provide a clear perspective on the daily needs and challenges facing Alaska’s communities. She develops evaluation plans, logic models, and data collection tools. She also manages data collection and data analysis—and co-delivered the keynote address at the 2019 Alaska Prevention Summit.

This 3-day summit included members of the Alaska State Legislature and covered topics ranging from shared protective factors to understanding strengths and resiliency (from an Alaska Native perspective) to strategic planning.

At the heart of it all

Both of our project teams appreciate the weight of their responsibility to those they serve. So, we prioritize culturally informed approaches to program implementation. At the same time, we’ve helped introduce creative solutions to complex challenges posed by lack of resources, extreme weather, limited broadband, difficult terrain, and overwhelmed victim service providers.

The challenge is immense. But resilience and optimism remain strong in Alaska, with a population of fewer than 800,000--about 10 percent of whom come from the state’s 229 federally recognized tribes.