Administrative Office of the Courts Accepting Applications for Two Grant Programs

March 21, 2018

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is now accepting grant applications for the Parent Education and Mediation Fund (“PEMF”) and the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (“VORP”) for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.  The PEMF and VORP grants for the 2018 – 2019 fiscal year will run from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.  Funding awards are dependent upon the availability of state appropriated funding. 

The PEMF and VORP grant applications are located on the AOC website at https://www.tncourts.gov/programs/rfpsgrants.  The application must be received by the Administrative Office of the Courts via mail, fax, or email to grants@tncourts.gov by 4:30 p.m. central time on April 20, 2018.  Notification of grant awards will be sent to applicants on or about May 18, 2018.

The VORP Program was enactedby the legislature in 1993.  The AOC has grant funds available for the 2018-2019 fiscal year for VORP programs based on the statutory criteria listed in T.C.A. §16-20-101 et seq. A VORP grant recipient must be organized as a not-for-profit corporation that helps resolve felony, misdemeanor, and/or juvenile delinquent disputes by providing a more informal and less adversarial alternative to court in which persons may voluntarily participate in to resolve altercations.

The VORP funding has assisted communities with resolution of a variety of issues. A prior recipient of VORP funding, the Mediation Center in Columbia has been working with elementary and middle school administrators to build conflict management skills among students, minimize bullying, and resolve disputes prior to those conflicts resulting in delinquent acts.  By holding mediations with a juvenile and the parties impacted by the juvenile’s actions, the outcomes include greater accountability for the student’s behavioral issues, community service, letters of apology, and/or restitution.

In 2000, the Tennessee General Assembly enacted Public Chapter 889, known as the Tennessee Parenting Plan Law, which provides for funding to be distributed by the AOC “for the specific purpose of funding the parenting plan requirements pursuant to this part, through the divorcing parent education and mediation fund, which funding includes the costs of court-ordered mediation, parenting education programs and any related services to resolve family conflict in divorce, post-divorce, and other child custody matters.” T.C.A. §36-6-413.  Non-profit organizations serving rural communities that are looking to develop initiatives are encouraged to apply.  The PEMF grant application must be signed by the presiding judge of the trial court in the district or the judge presiding over the court in which the litigants will be assisted by the initiative. 

Prior recipients of PEMF funding have made positive differences in their communities for families.Kymari House in Murfreesboro was founded in 2012 and was a PEMF grant recipient for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.  Kymari House is named after a 16-month old child who lost his life to child abuse, and the non-profit organization focuses on the safety and best interests of the children it serves.  Kymari House receives referrals from local courts to aid parties in complying with court-ordered supervised visitation and provides intake counseling to parents, child orientation sessions, and family support sessions to better manage behavior.  From July 2017 through February 2018, Kymari House has reported over 400 hours of safe, monitored visitation serving an average of 32 parents and 24 children each month at no or low cost.

Madison County Juvenile Court also received PEMF grant funding for the 2017-2018 fiscal year to support an on-site pro se specialist and visitation facilitator.  This person is available to help self-represented litigants navigate the court system and make referrals to pro bono mediators and supervised visitation providers.  These services have led to over 22 signed parenting plans regarding custody and visitation arrangements for 28 children during the July 2017 through February 2018 period. 

For more information about FY 2017-2018 grant recipients, please visit https://www.tncourts.gov/programs/mediation/resources-public.

Please note the Access and Visitation grant to aid self-represented litigants in accessing the court system regarding child support issues is also offered through the Administrative Office of the Courts.  The 2018-2019 fiscal year Access and Visitation grant application will be available in mid-June 2018, and the time period for this grant will run from October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019.