Alaska Safety Planning & Empowerment Network (ASPEN): Bringing Together Domestic/Sexual Violence and Disability Service Agencies (AK UCEDD/LEND)

May 31, 2016

Research staff from the Center for Human Development (Alaska UCEDD) have an ongoing role in community needs assessment with the Alaska Safety Planning and Empowerment Network (ASPEN). ASPEN brings together domestic violence/sexual assault (DV/SA), and disability service agencies from around the state, in primarily rural areas. Team members bring agencies together to: examine agency policies; seek service user feedback through focus groups; increase accessibility for survivors with disabilities in the DV/SA system; and increase trauma responsiveness in disability service systems.

The Center for Human Development has been a co-lead with ASPEN since 2012. Our main roles have been conducting focus groups and data analysis, and seeking Institutional Review Board approval from the University of Alaska Anchorage, as well as from the Alaska Area Institutional Review Board (AAIRB), and most recently from regional Tribal Review. The AAIRB is typically the first stop for research proposals affecting Alaska Native peoples. If AAIRB approval is granted, the next move is to seek approval directly from Alaska Native tribes at the local level. ASPEN received Tribal Review approval in winter 2016 and we are currently at work in our fifth community. ASPEN is part of the greater Alaska Disability Justice Initiative, including capacity building, training, and education projects, with the goal of, "reducing interpersonal violence against Alaskans with disabilities and/or Alaskan seniors."

The Initiative's other capacity building projects include creating and supporting Disability Abuse Response Teams (DARTs) across the state. Training and education include the annual Reducing Recidivism through Successful Reentry conference for providers serving returning citizens with cognitive disabilities, and the Friendship and Dating Curriculum, a relationship and sexuality class for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

Photo Caption: ASPEN team left to right: Lanny Mommsen, Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education; Ariel Herman, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; Christine King, Karen Heath, Rebekah Moras, Center for Human Development and Heidi Frost, Statewide Independent Living Council of Alaska.

Funder: Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority