NCALL 20th Anniversary Blog Series
Lisa G. Furr
I first became aware of the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) around 2005 while I worked for a local domestic violence program in Virginia. I was looking for interactive exercises to help me with community education and outreach. I found excellent training exercises on the dynamics and complexities of abuse in later life on NCALL’s website, and as an educator, I was mightily impressed. Here was a group of folks who really know this issue. They understood what aging services providers and staff in the field of domestic and sexual violence needed to communicate and educate around the topic of abuse in later life.
At the same time, the community I worked in was getting ready to apply for a new federal grant on abuse in later life from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). Coincidentally, I learned that NCALL was the agency working with the OVW Abuse in Later Life grantees. I immediately knew this will be very relevant work. I left the domestic violence agency in the same year the community received one of the first OVW Abuse in Later Life grants and took a job with the Virginia Center on Aging at Virginia Commonwealth University—the agency that was the lead on the grant. While my work wasn’t a part of the grant, I was working on multiple coordinated community response (CCR) teams in the region that benefited from the grant work.
From 2011 to 2017, I had the privilege to be a consultant trainer for NCALL, going into grantee communities to help with their CCRs and work with what we call their Kickoff events. This event is a requirement for grantee communities, which uses a scenario based on an actual case of abuse in later life to show how a coordinated community response is key to making sure older victims of abuse don’t fall through the cracks. These Kickoffs gave me the opportunity to see up close how the OVW Abuse in Later Life grant was changing the grantee communities and how those communities were improving their responses to abuse in later life.
When I joined the NCALL team in 2018, I was excited to able to continue to work with the OVW Abuse in Later Life grantees. The impact of this grant program is remarkable. What started in 2006 with nine grantees has grown to include 115 communities representing rural, urban, and tribal communities across the country and in Guam. It is amazing how far the grant has reached and how much this work has grown!
As the technical assistance provider for this grant, NCALL has been there every step of the way—providing education and enhancing awareness about abuse in later life, improving collaboration, and assisting with the enhancement of victim services. We have learned from the survivors and communities we have met along the way. They have shaped our work and we are grateful.
Now in its 20th year, NCALL remains a team that understands the issue of abuse in later life and the communities who do this work. We are reaching out and doing even more as we hear from communities about what they need to better support older survivors. Our staff provides consultation to professionals on abuse in later life. We are available to facilitate trainings to a wide variety of audiences including professionals and volunteers working in DV/SA programs, the aging services network, APS, health care, faith communities, and the criminal and civil justice systems. And we’ve created resources on abuse in later life like videos, PowerPoint slides, webinars, and publications, all available on our website.
I hope more communities seek out OVW’s unique funding opportunity. The Abuse in Later Life grant program truly enhances a community’s capacity to provide support and services to older adults who experience abuse and to the professionals who work with them. Please come join us in this work!