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National Evaluation of the Legal Assistance for Victims Program, Final Report, Part 1

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2005
325 pages
This is the final report on the national evaluation of the Federal Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) grant program, which is intended to increase the capacity of local organizations to provide free or low-cost, comprehensive civil legal and advocacy services to victims of domestic violence.
The national evaluation of the LAV program examined its implementation and outcomes for 1998 through 2000. Recipients of LAV grants were expected to provide legal assistance and representation with protection orders and other family-law matters; advocacy services that addressed victims' safety, health, and other needs; and legal services to resolve other matters, such as housing, employment, public benefits, and immigration issues, that were critical for clients' safety and well-being. The process evaluation involved site visits to interview grantee agency and partner agency staff who were working on LAV cases and others involved in providing civil legal services to domestic violence victims in the grantees' service area. The impact evaluation included some before-after analysis of caseload and a satisfaction survey of clients. Twelve LAV projects were included in the evaluation. The evaluation found that compared to the pre-LAV grant periods, most grantees increased the amount of legal services for low-income domestic violence victims and improved the quality of the representation. LAV funding greatly increased all of the legal programs' capacities to provide free or low-cost civil legal services to domestic violence victims; however, some projects still had to "triage" the domestic violence cases they could accept; e.g., limit representation in protection order cases to those in which the defendant was represented by counsel and take custody, visitation, and support cases, but not divorce cases. Still, overall the LAV program was successful in improving services for the target client group. Recommendations for improving the program are offered. Extensive exhibits

Date Published: January 1, 2005