Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Applications Available for Grant Funding by State Appropriation for Fiscal Year 2019 – 2020

March 21, 2019

The Administrative Office of the Courts is now accepting grant applications for the Parent Education and Mediation Fund (“PEMF”) as well as the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (“VORP”) for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.  The PEMF and VORP grants for the 2019 – 2020 fiscal year are for the time period of July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.  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. CST on April 26, 2019.  Notification of grant awards will be sent to applicants on or about May 17, 2019.

The VORP Program was enactedby the state legislature in 1993.  The Administrative Office of the Courts has grant funds available for the 2019-2020 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 to resolve altercations.

VORP funding has assisted communities with the resolution of a variety of issues.  The Mediation Center in Columbia is a current VORP grant recipient.  Through a Peer Mediation program, The Mediation Center has been working with middle school administrators to build conflict management skills among students, minimize bullying, and resolve disputes prior to those conflicts resulting in delinquent acts.  Mediations between a juvenile and the parties impacted by the juvenile’s actions have resulted in  outcomes such as greater accountability for the student’s behavioral issues, community service, letters of apology, and/or restitution.  The Mediation Center has also been an avenue of the Tier Process for addressing truancy amongst the student, the student’s family, school administrators, and the court.

The PEMF can be traced back to 2000, when the Tennessee General Assembly enacted Public Chapter 889, known as the Tennessee Parenting Plan Law, which provides for funding to be distributed by the Administrative Office of the Courts “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. 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 is a PEMF grant recipient for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.  Kymari House is named after a 16-month-old child who lost his life to child abuse, and the nonprofit 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 it provides intake counseling to parents, child orientation sessions, and family support sessions to better manage behavior.  From July 2018 through February 2019, Kymari House reported over 475 hours of safe, monitored visitation serving an average of 37 parents and 27 children each month at no or low cost.

For more information about FY 2018-2019 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 2019-2020 fiscal year Access and Visitation grant application will be available in July 2019, and the time period for this grant will run from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020.