The Iowa Accountability Program, part of the Iowa Judicial Branch, received a $900,000 continuation grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, to continue court services for domestic violence victims.
The grant enhances the Iowa Accountability Program’s Access to Justice Initiative that provides Access to Justice Coordinators (coordinators) in Black Hawk, Johnson, and Polk County courthouses to assist people who come to the courts for help with domestic violence issues. The coordinators are specially trained to provide a variety of services including assisting victims with court forms related to civil or criminal protective orders, answering questions about court procedures, and providing referrals to community resources such as legal services, domestic violence victim service providers, or law enforcement.
The coordinators also observe domestic violence cases to identify best practices in the judicial process and provide training and education for community members and system professionals on working with domestic violence victims and related issues.
“Victims of domestic violence tell me that the Access to Justice Coordinators are accessible and helpful as they try to navigate the necessary paperwork for a civil protective order," Delaney Dixon, Assistant Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program in Iowa City, said. "The coordinators also assist people who do not qualify for a civil protective order by providing information about the process and referrals to community resources that can help."
The $900,000 Improving Criminal Justice Responses to Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Grant was awarded in October 2018. Between October 2015 and April 2019, the Iowa Accountability Program’s Access to Justice Initiative has:
- Served more than 2,240 clients
- Includes 39 percent of all three counties’ civil protective order petitioners
- Provided 3,244 community resource referrals
- Distributed more than 20,600 informational resources
- Observed 1089 domestic violence cases
- Includes 768 civil hearings, 302 criminal hearings and 19 criminal trials
- Provided 27 education events to more than 539 community members
- Facilitated 54 system professional trainings to more than 990 court staff, law enforcement, services providers, and others.
About the Iowa Accountability Program:
The State Court Administrator’s Office began the Iowa Accountability Program in 2005 to improve the judicial handling of domestic violence cases. Kimberly Baxter, Executive Director of Special Projects, oversees the program.
About the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW):
Established in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Director of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, Katie Sullivan visited Iowa to learn more about the program. Photographed above, left to right, Delaney Dixon, Assistant Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (Iowa City), an IAP partner; Monica Stone, Deputy Director for Iowa Department of Human Rights (Des Moines), an IAP partner; Katie Sullivan; Kimberly Baxter, Executive Director of Special Projects; Kristie Fortmann-Doser, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (Iowa City), an IAP partner; and Sarah Vandenberg Van Zee, Program Assistant for IAP.