RFA: Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

Executive Summary

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for Sexual Assault Response and Prevention projects (RFA 2020-09). Through these grants, organizations will develop projects that will help reduce the number of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who are victims of sexual assault. Projects will work to increase the number of people who understand and can identify instances of sexual assault, as well as know how to report the crimes. Also, projects will ensure survivors have access to the appropriate formal and informal supports and services.

Outcomes will be achieved through education, trainings, information sharing, and raising awareness. Groups that will be included in project activities will include people with IDD; their families, friends, and allies; and community stakeholders and organizations that provide services and supports.

The funding amount for this RFA is $150,000 per year for up to five years. Funding is available for up to five projects. The deadline to apply is June 15, 2020.


Due to various factors, many people with disabilities may be at risk to be victims of sexual assault. The data illustrates this, as various subcategories within the disability community are shown to be much more likely to experience sexual assault than groups of people without disabilities. People with disabilities often lack access to the appropriate resources and supports when they experience sexual assault, and some victims may not even identify what they experience as being illegal or wrong. Also, victims fear the consequences they could experience if they do report an assault, whether it’s losing services already in place or facing retribution from the perpetrator.

High Rates of Victimization: People with disabilities experience sexual assault at a much higher rate than people without disabilities. According to federal crime data from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that was obtained by National Public Radio:

  • both women and men with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities;
  • individuals with multiple disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of sexual assault or rape than those individuals with a single disability; and
  • individuals with disabilities are more likely than those without disabilities to be victims of repeated offenses by someone they know and depend on as well as occurring in places where they are supposed to be safe.

Violent Crimes: The DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Crime Against Persons with Disabilities report indicates that people with disabilities are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes, which includes rape and sexual assault. The report also shows that:

  • individuals with cognitive disabilities are the victims of violent crimes at a higher rate than other types of disabilities, and
  • that individuals with two or more races have a higher rate of victimization that individuals who indicate a single race.

Texas Cases: In Texas, the Adult Protective Services division within the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is responsible for protecting people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation (ANE), which could include sexual assault. According to data published by DFPS for 2016, over 20,000 ANE allegations associated with providers who serve individuals with IDD (exclusively or in part) were investigated.

Lack of Reporting & Resources: Some people with developmental disabilities (DD) may not recognize when a sexual offense occurs and what behaviors are inappropriate and/or illegal. As a result, they may not tell anyone about their experiences. Only 3% of sexual abuse cases involving people with DD are ever reported. When they are reported, victims may face challenges in accessing services and supports to make a report. For example, some victims may experience trauma related to not being believed or for being blamed for the attack. Also, victims may fear that if they do report an incident that they could be displaced from their homes or residences, face retribution, or lose services.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, many of these crimes go unreported.

  • 20% of the crimes went unreported because “it was not important enough to the victim.”
  • 21% went unreported because the individual did not believe law enforcement would help them.
  • 40% didn’t report the crimes because it was “dealt with another way.”

Known Perpetrators: It is estimated that 97-99% of perpetrators are known to the victim. People with DD are not often taught to question care providers, who could assault someone by performing personal procedures inappropriately. Some people with DD report feeling that they have no control over their own bodies because of their dependency on having these procedures done routinely.

With very few cases being reported in the first place, these crimes rarely result in prosecution. That reality, coupled with the fact that many perpetrators have regular access to potential victims, makes this an easy crime to get away with and commit again.

Project Description and Milestones

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response projects will develop and implement – or demonstrate – promising practices that will reduce the number of Texans with IDD who are victims of sexual assault. Projects will work to increase the number of people who understand and can identify instances of sexual assault, as well as know how to report the crimes. Also, projects will develop strategies to ensure survivors have access to the appropriate formal and informal supports and services.

Projects will develop and/or implement best practices to educate and support victims. A program may include evidence-informed educational materials and trainings or other educational events conducted in-person or online. Target audiences should include people with IDD, their families, friends, and allies. Individuals that participate in the project will be surveyed to measure the effectiveness of the trainings and materials.

Projects will also work to distribute information and raise awareness with community stakeholders about issues related to sexual assault and people with IDD. These efforts will be in addition to – not in place of – material development and trainings.

Below are just a few examples of the types of topics projects would address.

  • The conditions that may increase the likelihood of sexual offense occurring;
  • signs, such as behavior changes, that might indicate there has been a sexual offense committed;
  • how families, friends, and allies may support an individual with IDD in a trauma-informed manner; and/or
  • an individual’s rights as they relate to reporting sexual offense and how they may do so.

Projects may also include strategies to implement best practices to support victims through assessment and examination, or models to better access formal and informal supports and services. Projects may also include best practice models that include peer support.

Projects must ensure that people who are traditionally unserved or underserved are included, especially groups that have been shown to be at higher risk and/or victimized at a higher rate than others. The grantee will also provide TCDD with information and recommendations that can be used to develop further policy actions and future projects.

Applications will be evaluated on both:

  • the expected quality of the materials and education, and
  • the demonstrated ability to effectively educate and train the most individuals.

Outputs and Outcomes

Projects will administer a training program that will train at least 100 individuals per year. Trainees will be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to prevent and respond to instances of sexual assault committed against people with IDD.

Specifically, TCDD expects projects to:

  • Develop a program that includes educational materials and trainings. The program will be able to be replicated elsewhere in the state and/or implemented by an organization with a statewide mission.
  • Educate and train a minimum of 100 individuals per year. Participants will be people with IDD, their families, friends, and allies. Trainings could be offered directly by the grantee, in conjunction with pre-existing events (e.g., at a statewide conference), etc.
  • The program will provide access to education and training that will increase understanding of ways to respond to sexual assault if it occurs and possibly reduce the overall incidence of sexual assault.
  • Ensure participants have knowledge of organizations and agencies to which they may report concerns, incidents, and needs for follow-up on reports. Projects may include best practices on how to best support victims of sexual assault.
  • Collaborate with local advocacy groups, service providers, and individuals with IDD when developing the program.

Grant Award and Term

The anticipated total amount of federal funding available for this project is $150,000 per federal fiscal year during the grant term. At the sole discretion of TCDD, and contingent on grantee performance and the continued availability of funds appropriated by the TCDD Council, grants may be renewed without re-procurement for up to four additional years after the initial award year.

Funds available for these projects are provided to TCDD by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Disabilities, pursuant to the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. Funding for the project is dependent on the results of a review process established by TCDD and on the availability of funds. Non-federal matching funds of at least 10% of the total project costs are required for projects in federally designated poverty areas. Non-federal matching funds of at least 25% of total project costs are required for projects in other areas.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Applications are due to TCDD by 5 p.m. Central Time (CT) on Monday, June 15, 2020. Late applications will not be accepted. TCDD will notify applicants about decisions following TCDD’s August 2020 Council Meeting. Review dates are subject to change.

TCDD holds a webinar to provide more information about TCDD’s processes for application review and grant award. Attendance is not required in order to apply. The informational webinar was held at 10 a.m. CT on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

The deadline to submit questions about the RFA was May 18, 2020. No questions were submitted for this RFA.

How to Apply

TCDD uses an online application tool called SMApply to accept applications for RFAs. In SMApply, applicants submit their applications by entering information and uploading documents. All application activities take place in SMApply. The application in SMApply includes detailed instructions regarding what information to include in an application. To apply for this RFA, visit TCDD’s SMApply page.

General RFA Information

To learn more about TCDD’s RFAs, including the application process and what is required of grantees, visit the General RFA Information webpage. For information on completing an application — including a preview of the RFA application, an example of a budget, and more — visit the Resources webpage.