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enver Victim Services 2000 (VS2000), funded by a discretionary grant from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), is a 5-year demonstration project to create a comprehensive, coordinated, seamless service delivery system for victims of crime. In 1997, OVC selected Denver, Colorado, as the urban site for the development and implementation of the VS2000 model. Today, representatives from more than 50 Denver-area victim service agencies and programs are participating in the Denver VS2000 project. Participants include community and criminal justice-based victim service programs and allied professionals. The State of Vermont has also been selected as a VS2000 site. Each site is developing a unique victim services model tailored to its community.

This Bulletin, the first in a series, describes the creation of the Denver VS2000 model service network. It summarizes the efforts and highlights the results of the three-pronged victim services needs assessment conducted by Denver VS2000 in 1997 and 1998. The Bulletin describes the development of an assessment strategy and the creation of measurement tools. Subsequent Bulletins will address other aspects of the model, including collaboration and planning, technology, training and education, and community advocates.

Participants in the Denver VS2000 project designed and implemented the Denver needs assessment. First, it was clear that an assessment of the current state of victim services and victims' needs in that area was necessary for developing a seamless model victim services network. Although adept in the field of victim services, the participants had little or no experience in, or knowledge of, scientific methods of data collection. Since the grant budget did not provide for consultation with expert researchers, it became the responsibility of project participants to develop measurement tools and implement an assessment that could, as quickly as possible, inform the process of creating the victim service model. Thanks to the wealth of expertise, experience, and dedication in the Denver victim services community, the project participants were able to develop the needs assessment from their own applied, practical research without using strictly scientific social research methods.

Developing the assessment involved three tasks: identifying the most relevant types of services and victim information, researching available material on related types of needs assessments, and creating working committees to design instruments and methods of implementation. From a dynamic process of brainstorming, discussion, prioritization, and ongoing refinement of content and format came three distinct assessment instruments-the Agency Inventory of Services (the Agency Survey), the Client Satisfaction Survey, and focus groups for underserved crime victims. In addition, by working together toward a common goal, the participants achieved other, perhaps equally important, goals-increased knowledge, understanding, and trust in one another.

The first major task undertaken by the Denver VS2000 participants was the development of the needs assessment. This provided victim service providers from a broad range of agencies a wonderful opportunity to share ideas, perceptions, and concerns on topics such as interagency communication and referrals, why certain victims do or do not report or use services, perceived needs and service gaps, and differing philosophies and methods of service provision. In fact, the needs assessment generated information that contributed to the creation of several critical components of the model victim services network, including a shared case management system, an interagency cross-training plan, standardized service evaluation, cultural competency training, and advocates from the community.

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OVC Bulletin, October 2000
Denver Victim Services 2000 Needs Assessment
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