Research Report Evaluation of the Polyvictimization Initiative at the Queens Family Justice Center
Sara Bastomski, Alexandra Ricks, Erica Henderson, Jennifer Yahner
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From January 2018 to March 2019, the Urban Institute evaluated the Polyvictimization Initiative at the Queens Family Justice Center (QFJC) by request of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City (Mayor’s Fund). The initiative aimed to improve service delivery for polyvictim clients as part of a demonstration grant from the US Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), called “A Pathway to Justice, Healing and Hope: Addressing Polyvictimization in a Family Justice Center Setting Demonstration Initiative.” The nationwide initiative’s goal was to develop a polyvictimization assessment tool (PAT) and service delivery model for Family Justice Centers (FJCs) or similar co-located victim services. As the program evolved, stakeholders also determined that a polyvictimization screening tool (PST) would be useful to improve service delivery and address polyvictims’ needs.

The QFJC initiative was developed under the guidance of a local Polyvictimization Initiative consulting committee. Committee members included staff from the Mayor's Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV), QFJC, Safe Horizon, NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program (SAVI), Voces Latinas, and Sanctuary for Families. The purpose of the consulting committee was to come together and learn about the needs of polyvictim clients at the QFJC, and to discuss best practices for designing and implementing the assessment tool. The QFJC initiative’s primary features were trauma-informed training and service delivery, client mapping, and the PST and PAT, all intended to inform and improve service delivery for clients who have experienced polyvictimization.

Urban conducted a mixed methods process evaluation of the PAT’s development and implementation in the Queens Family Justice Center. A review of program materials, stakeholder interviews and surveys, observations of program operations, and analyses of PST/PAT and client data informed the evaluation, which assessed (1) the development of the PST/PAT, (2) the implementation of the PST/PAT, and (3) the validity of the PST/PAT.

In addition to an examination of how the PST and PAT were developed and implemented at QFJC, this report presents findings on the tools’ impact on service providers and service provision for clients with complex, long-term needs for trauma-informed services owing to experiences of polyvictimization. Specifically, this report aims to provide readers (1) an overview of the literature on topics related to polyvictimization, victimization screening and intervention, and Family Justice Centers; (2) an in-depth examination of the development and implementation of the PST/PAT through the eyes of staff, participants, and other key stakeholders; (3) evaluation findings that assess the validity of the PST/PAT; and (4) recommendations to promote best practices and address barriers to success.

This evaluation’s key findings include the following:

  • The Polyvictimization Initiative provided opportunities for QFJC and partner agency staff to receive training on providing trauma-informed services, and made tailored, intensive resources more available for QFJC clients who have experienced polyvictimization.
  • Opportunities for collaboration and coordination—particularly working with polyvictim clients—improved relationships among staff participating in the initiative.
  • The service delivery model improved for clients interested in specialized polyvictimization services; however, QFJC can continue making refinements to effectively identify such clients and route them appropriately.
  • The Modified Polyvictimization Assessment Tool (PAT) could benefit from further refinement. Results indicate that although the majority of PAT questions are working as intended, some may not be as meaningful for QFJC clients.

Based on evaluation results, Urban proposes the following six recommendations to strengthen implementation of the Polyvictimization Initiative service delivery model at the Queens Family Justice Center:

  • Ensure program operations continue supporting collaboration and coordination.
  • Consider refinements to the Modified-PAT and PAT implementation process.
  • Develop clear standards for training and supervision for staff who use the PST/PAT.
  • Refine the plan for using the PST and build on strengths.
  • Determine how to maintain, improve, and expand the reach of the Polyvictimization Initiative model at QFJC.
  • Use PST/PAT data for long-term performance monitoring and strategic planning.
Research Areas Crime, justice, and safety
Tags Victims of crime Intimate partner violence
Policy Centers Justice Policy Center