The Yakutat Tlingit Tribe was recently awarded with a Crime Victim Services grant worth $719,776 by the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) through the OVC FY 2018 Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Program. OVC was established in 1988 with the mission of enhancing the nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and provide leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime. The overall goal of this program is to provide critical support to Indian Tribes in order to improve services for American Indian and Alaska Native crime victims.
For the past few months, YTT Executive Director Nathan Moulton and our Tribal Council have been eagerly working to accomplish multiple phases of time-sensitive application requirements in order to secure the funding that will support a range of activities including needs assessment, strategic planning, program development and implementation, program expansion, and further necessary activities to address the victim service needs of our community.
Currently, within the Tribe and in our community, there are no services or programs offered whose primary focus is on victims of crime. Rather, all of the current programs are focused on prevention. Much like our local population, victim advocate efforts have been on the decline. At present, services aimed at victims of crime, suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention, trauma-related, and mental health promotion activities happening in the community for young people and their families are very limited or non-existent. The Yakutat School District reveals that Suicide prevention and intervention training has not been offered for teachers since 2013. There have been no programs or curriculum in the school for the past few years that address mental health or substance abuse issues for youth.
Elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and substance abuse are major issues Yakutat faces on a daily basis. Because the avoidance of mental health concerns is so prominent, it is common for individuals to resort to maladaptive behaviors that often include self-medication and/or self-harm. The lack of education for developing healthy coping mechanism can lead to alcohol and substance abuse as well as a sense of depression and hopelessness that further contributes to self-medication and/or self-harm. Clearly, there is a need to offer consistent and meaningful support not only to youth but everyone in our community who are susceptible to these kinds of injustices.
In response, the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe will begin the project design and implementation by hiring and training one full-time victim advocate that will work in 477 Tribal Social Services Department who will provide crisis intervention, resources, and referrals to victims. The Yakutat Tlingit Tribe will purchase hardware and equipment including a 4-door short bed pickup vehicle for the crime victim advocate to allow for in-home client visits that are located in more remote areas and not on the main road system. Outreach materials will be developed and sourced to notify the community of the newly available services. Advertisement for the program will include utilizing the local radio station, print media, and online media.
As previously stated, the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe plans on fulfilling the preparation of a comprehensive victim services program, needs assessment, strategic planning, and program development consulting phases by partnering with various organizations with whom the Tribe has had success working within the past. The Tribe ensures that the program will be tailor made to the current and future needs of Yakutat instead of using a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all approach. In order to serve crime victims appropriately, a community-wide needs assessment will be conducted and the participation of the Tribal Human Services and Cultural Heritage Offices, School District, Police Department, Counseling Service, ICWA advocate, Magistrate, and Community Health Center will be critical to collaboratively create programs that will address the results of the needs assessment.
Finally, a Master Level Clinician will be brought in multiple times a year for referred clients who have substance abuse, anger, PTSD, or other mental health conditions that are a direct result of being a victim of crime. As the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe does not currently possess the capability to perform these services, we intend on assisting travel/ transportation, co-payment of costs, and other allowable costs associated with an intensive treatment program if it will be necessary for victims of crime to undergo a more intensive inpatient treatment. Much of the grant is modeled towards Psychiatric, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse through counseling. Remaining funds are planned to be used for providing short-term and emergency needs of Crime Victims.