CIRCLEVILLE — Ohio’s newly formed Adult Advocacy Centers (AACs) have released a report that outlines the critical need for services, supports and protocols to help victims of crime with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the state.
The report, entitled Needs Assessment: Fall 2019, summarizes a survey the AACs sent to 88 county boards of developmental disabilities over the summer, asking about crime victims and the services currently provided to adults with I/DD in their area.
A total of 35 surveys were returned, representing all regions of the state. The results were staggering: once the county board has reported the crime to law enforcement, law enforcement becomes the lead agency. It is rare that those crimes are sent to a grand jury, and a collaborative infrastructure does not currently exist to help different agencies work together to improve those outcomes. There is also a lack of services that are focused on the unique trauma needs that often exist for crime victims with disabilities.
The report highlights these additional statistics:
• Only 17 percent of respondents reported that crimes against people with disabilities are fairly regularly taken to a grand jury in their county;
• Only 31 percent of respondents indicated that they are invited to participate in a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) that works together to coordinate care and services for individuals who are victims of physical or sexual abuse;
• No respondents had support groups available specifically for crime victims with disabilities; and
• A full 51 percent of respondents indicated lack of resources as the biggest barrier to providing crime victim services to people with disabilities in their county.
Although these problems have long been suspected, the AAC survey is the first to try to better understand how they play out in Ohio. The resulting report makes it clear that Ohio needs a regional Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) model that focuses solely on adult crime victims with disabilities – a model the AACs are creating and will implement in its 10 regionally located centers. Current plans are to build centers in the following counties: Allen, Carroll, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Jackson, Montgomery, Noble, Richland and Wood.
Each center will provide space and coordination for an MDT that will include law enforcement, prosecutors, medical staff, victim advocates, mental health specialists, forensic interviewers and representatives from each of Ohio’s disability-specific agencies. An RV mobile unit with medical and a forensic interview room will also allow for the flexibility to serve people who need help, no matter where they are.
“We are grateful to all of the boards of developmental disabilities that responded to our survey,” says AACs Executive Director Katherine Yoder. “Their honest responses have given us an accurate baseline as we begin to build a first-of-its-kind system to support crime victims with disabilities in Ohio.”
Those who are interested in learning more about the AACs’ plans and current work can visit adultadvocacycenters.org.