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Phase Two of ETA: Evaluation of Technology-based Advocacy Services: Assessment of Program Outcomes

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $590,041)

Overview. Agencies providing crisis support services to victims of crime have rapidly increased use of chat/text and other virtual services over the last decade, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this increase, little is known about the chat/text model of advocacy, including user experience and short- and long-term impacts. Consequently, victim service agencies are developing and providing these programs without evidence-based guidance for implementation, or knowledge of potential outcomes. To address this gap, we conducted a formative evaluation of a chat/text hotline in Austin, Texas (SAFEline) in our 2018 OVC/NIJ phased evaluation grant (2018-ZD-CX-0004). The mixed-methods project, Evaluation of Technology-assisted Advocacy (ETA) descriptively examined chat/text services, including staff and service user experience, and articulated a model of chat/text advocacy goals, activities, expected outcomes, and fidelity. We propose to build on phase one ETA findings by conducting a rigorous process and outcome evaluation of chat/text-based services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking at SAFEline, and additionally, Houston Area Women’s Center chat/text line. Primary Activities. Specific aims are: 1). Evaluate short- and long-term outcomes of chat/text services on program goals identified in Phase 1 of ETA; 2). Examine chat/text cost effectiveness and the role of program fidelity on outcomes; and 3). Assess the impact of COVID-19 on chat/text services. Thus, we will 1) recruit and prospectively follow 300 (age 16+) chat/text service users over 4 time points and conduct 25 semi-structured follow-up interviews with longitudinal study participants; 2) recruit staff to complete 200 assessments of fidelity; 3) analyze service use data and 600 chat/text transcripts from time periods during and post COVID-19 4) Recruit 25 service users who used chat/text services during the COVID-19 pandemic for interviews on needs and experiences; and 5) interview 20 staff members about chat/text services and COVID-19. Thematic and content analysis will be used for qualitative data and multilevel repeated measures models for quantitative data. Products and deliverables. Products include web-based practitioner presentations, implementation guide, web-hosted evaluation materials, conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications. Service area. Chat/text advocacy services are based in Austin and Houston, Texas. Benefits. Chat/text offers low-barrier access to critical victims services. Process and outcome data on chat/text services has important national implications for this emerging mode of advocacy, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. Study findings will be impactful for victim service agencies in guiding programming, and will support policy makers charged with decisions related to funding efficacious services. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 30, 2021