The Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division, has completed an audit of the Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program (Program), Grant Nos. 2003-CW-BX-0026 in the amount of $119,893, and 2005-CW-AX-0013 in the amount of $502,648, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to Grand Island, Nebraska. The purpose of the awards were to provide an opportunity for communities to support the supervised visitation and safe exchange of children in situations involving domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. The Program has been planned and implemented through the Heartland Family Visitation Center (HFVC).
Since 1995, OVW has provided national leadership in developing the nation's capacity to reduce violence against women through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act. 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.
Studies have shown that the risk of violence is often greater for victims of domestic violence and their children after separation from an abusive situation.1 Even after separation, batterers often use visitation and the exchange of children as an opportunity to inflict additional emotional, physical, and/or psychological abuse on victims and their children. Visitation and exchange services provided through the Program should reflect a clear understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; the impact of domestic violence on children; and the importance of holding offenders accountable for their actions.
The purpose of this audit was to determine whether reimbursements claimed for costs under the grants were allowable, supported, and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grant, and to determine program performance and accomplishments. As a result, we reviewed activities in the following areas: (1) internal control environment; (2) drawdowns; (3) grant expenditures, including subgrantee and personnel costs; (4) budget management and control; (5) Financial Status Reports (FSRs) and Categorical Assistance Progress Reports (progress reports); (6)grant requirements; and (7) program performance and accomplishments. We determined that matching costs, indirect costs, and program income were not applicable to this grant.
As shown in table 1 below, Grand Island was awarded a total of $622,541 to implement the Program.
TABLE 1. SAFE HAVENS: SUPERVISED VISITATION AND SAFE
EXCHANGE PROGRAM GRANTS ISSUED TO GRAND ISLAND
|AWARD||START DATE||END DATE||AMOUNT|
We examined Grand Island’s accounting records, payroll records, financial and progress reports, and operating policies and procedures and found:
- expenditures did not support drawdowns resulting in unsupported costs,
- one transaction for contracted construction which is unallowable based on the OVW grant solicitation,
- expenditures that exceeded approved budgeted categories, and
- the Program faces challenges toward becoming independently sustainable.
These items are discussed in detail in the Findings and Recommendations section of the report. Our audit objectives, scope, and methodology are discussed in Appendix I.
Jaffe, P.G., “Children of Domestic Violence: Special Challenges in Custody and Visitation Dispute Resolution.” In J. Carter, C. Heisler, & M. Runner (Eds.), Domestic Violence and Children: Resolving Custody and Visitation Disputes, A National Judicial Curriculum (San Francisco: Family Violence Prevention Fund), pp. 22-30.