Justice Systems Response to Families


The Grants to Support Families in the Justice System program (referred to as Justice Systems Response to Families Program) was authorized in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013 to improve the response of all aspects 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 includes purpose areas previously authorized under the Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program (Supervised Visitation) and the Court Training and Improvements Program (Courts), along with new purpose areas and applicant requirements.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Justice
Office: Violence Against Women Office
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Cooperative Agreements (Discretionary Grants)
Program Accomplishments
Not Applicable.
Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, Public Law 113-4, 127 Stat. 74, 42 U.S.C 10420.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Eligible applicants are states, local governments, courts (including juvenile courts), Indian tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, legal services providers, and victim service providers.
Beneficiary Eligibility
Courts, supervised visitation providers, and other nonprofit organizations.
Under 42 USC §10420(d), all applicants for the Justice Systems Response to Families Program must:

•Certify that the organizational policies of the applicant do not require mediation or counseling involving offenders and victims being physically present in the same place, in cases where domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking is alleged.

For a court-based program, applicants must also:
•Certify that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking are not charged fees or any other costs related to the filing, petitioning, modifying, issuance, registration, enforcement, withdrawal, or dismissal of matters relating to the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Applicants proposing to operate supervised visitation programs and services or safe visitation exchange must also:
•Demonstrate that adequate security measures, including adequate facilities, procedures, and personnel capable of preventing violence, and adequate standards are, or will be, in place (including the development of protocols or policies to ensure that confidential information is not shared with courts, law enforcement agencies, or child welfare agencies unless necessary to ensure the safety of any child or adult using the services of a program funded by OVW).

Any grantee or subgrantee providing legal assistance with funds awarded under this program shall certify in writing that:

(1)Any person providing legal assistance with funds through this program
(A) has demonstrated expertise in providing legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or child sexual abuse in the targeted population; or
(B) is partnered with an entity or person that has demonstrated expertise described in subparagraph (A);
(2) Any person providing legal assistance through this program has completed, or will complete, training in connection with domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or child sexual abuse, and related legal issues, including training on evidence-based risk factors for domestic and dating violence homicide;
(3) Any training program conducted in satisfaction of the requirement of paragraph (1) has been or will be developed with input from and in collaboration with a tribal, state, territorial, or local domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or child sexual abuse victim service provider or coalition, as well as appropriate tribal, state, territorial, and local law enforcement officials;
(4) Any person or organization providing legal assistance with funds through this program has informed and will continue to inform state, local, or tribal domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking programs and coalitions, as well as appropriate state and local law enforcement officials of their work; and
(5) The grantee’s organizational policies do not require mediation or counseling involving offenders and victims physically together, in cases where sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or child sexual abuse is an issue.

Non-profit organizations must be an organization that is described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of that Code. All such applicants are required to submit a determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service recognizing their tax-exempt status. OMB Circular No. A-87 applies to this program.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is required. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.
Application Procedure
OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-110 applies to this program. The receipt, review, and analysis of applications will follow Office on Violence Against Women policies and procedures for the administration of grant applications.

Requirements set forth in 28 CFR parts 66 and 70 and 2 CFR parts 220, 225 and 230 apply.
Award Procedure
Upon approval by the Office on Violence Against Women, online notification is sent to the applicant agency with copies of the Grant Award. One copy of the Grant Award must be signed by an authorized official and returned to OVW.
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Applicants will be notified by the end of the fiscal year.
Not Applicable.
Renewals are considered on a case-by-case basis.
How are proposals selected?
Criteria is specified in the annual program solicitation.
How may assistance be used?
Grants can be used for the following statutory program purpose areas:

1) 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;

2) Develop and promote state, local, and tribal legislation, policies, and best practices for improving civil and criminal court functions, responses, practices, and procedures in cases involving a history of domestic violence or sexual assault, or in cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse, including cases in which the victim proceeds pro se;

3) 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;

4) 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;

5) Enable courts or court-based or court-related programs to develop or enhance—
(a)court infrastructure (such as specialized courts, consolidated courts, dockets, intake centers, or interpreter services);
(b)community-based initiatives within the court system (such as court watch programs, victim assistants, pro se victim assistance programs, or community-based supplementary services);
(c)offender management, monitoring, and accountability programs;
(d)safe and confidential information-storage and information-sharing databases within and between court systems;
(e)education and outreach programs to improve community access, including enhanced access for underserved populations; and
(f)other projects likely to improve court responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking;

6) Provide civil legal assistance and advocacy services, including legal information and resources in cases in which the victim proceeds pro se,
(a) to victims of domestic violence; and
(b) nonoffending parents in matters that involve allegations of child sexual abuse, that relate to family matters including civil protection orders, custody, and divorce, and in which the other party is represented by counsel;

7) Collect data and provide training and technical assistance, including developing state, local, and tribal model codes and policies, to improve the capacity of grantees and communities to address the civil justice needs of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking who have legal representation, who are proceeding pro se, or who are proceeding with the assistance of a legal advocate; and

8) Improve training and education to assist judges, judicial personnel, attorneys, child welfare personnel, and legal advocates in the civil justice system.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Reports are required as stipulated in the program regulations and the effective edition of the OVW Financial Grants Management Guide. No cash reports are required. Semi-annual progress reports shall explain the activities carried out and include an assessment of the effectiveness of those activities in achieving the purposes of the program, including number of persons served and numbers of persons seeking services who could not be served. Quarterly Federal Financial Reports are required. Grantees must monitor grant and subgrant supported activities to assure compliance with applicable Federal requirements and that performance goals are being achieved.
In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.
Financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, and all other records pertinent to an award must be retained for a period of three years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report. If any litigation, claim or audit is started before the expiration of the three year period, the records must be retained until all litigation, claims or audit findings involving the records have been resolved and final action taken.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
This program has no statutory formula.
This program has no matching requirements. Match is not required for this grant program; however, applicants are encouraged to maximize the impact of Federal dollars by contributing to the cost of the project. Supplemental contributions may be cash, in-kind services, or a combination of both.
This program has MOE requirements, see funding agency for further details.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Information regarding length of awards will be included in an annual solicitation for the program. Funds are released on an as-needed basis to the grantee. See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Periodic drawdowns should be based upon immediate disbursement/reimbursement needs and project progress.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
Headquarters Office
Tia Farmer 145 N. St., Suite 10W121, Washington, District of Columbia 20530 Email: tia.farmer@usdoj.gov Phone: 202-305-1177
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Cooperative Agreements (Discretionary Grants)) FY 13 Not Available; FY 14 est $15,500,000; and FY 15 Estimate Not Available
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Program solicitations can be found at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/ovwgrantprograms.htm. Recipients must comply with the current version of the OVW Financial Grants Management Guide found at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/grantees.html. Department of Justice regulations applicable to specific types of grantees can be found in title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations (28 C.F.R.).
Examples of Funded Projects
Not Applicable.


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