he information captured by the Victim Services 2000 Needs Assessment was essential to the development of the components of the Denver VS2000 model. However, the needs assessment was not alone in this work. While the Needs Assessment Team was developing instruments and surveying agencies and victims, the Model Network Development, Training, and Education and Technology Teams and subcommittees were meeting each month to discuss and brainstorm a common vision and structure for an integrated, model service network. Though the needs assessment informed the development of the model, the collaborative efforts of the teams were very important in identifying its critical components.
The collective work of the teams and the information from the focus groups provided the foundation for Denver VS2000's guiding philosophy that there should be "no wrong door" through which victims can access services. The focus groups also highlighted the need for advocates who are part of the community they serve and the need for cultural competency training for service providers. Of the gaps identified by the Agency Survey, a shared case management system was prioritized by the teams as the best way to address myriad needs, including more effective information and referral, better communication between providers, and better service provision in general. Development of an online Resource Directory and an interagency Cross-Training Plan would address the need for appropriate referrals by providing easy access to information about resources and a vehicle for increasing knowledge and trust among agencies.
The following are elements of the Denver VS2000 model victim service network that were developed as a result of the data gathered during the needs assessment:
Three underserved communities were selected as sites for VS2000 Community Advocates (CAs). CAs are members or residents of the community or neighborhood they serve and are known, respected, and involved in their communities. CAs are able to inform the VS2000 Steering Committee and teams about the needs and barriers to service experienced by the victims in their communities and are responsible for linking victims with available services.
Denver VS2000 is developing a Case Management System that will be shared over a secure, private network. This system will enable service providers to assist victims in navigating multiple agencies and to provide followup and support. It will allow service providers to track clients through the network of services to ensure they are getting the help they need and to communicate with colleagues about shared clients. As a result, victims will not have to retell their story and fill out forms each time they access services at a new agency.
Online Resource Directory
Denver VS2000 has developed an Internet-based Resource Directory that is shared among agencies and continually updated. The online Resource Directory solves several problems that have long been a source of frustration for victim service providers: incorrect or out-of-date information due to lack of staff to keep resources current; directories that are large, cumbersome, and too expensive to print more than once or twice a year; and directories that are difficult to use because criteria cannot be easily cross-referenced. Service providers and the public can access the Denver VS2000 Resource Directory through the VS2000 Web site. Users can search for resources using any combination of categories such as services provided, agency name, type of victims served, languages spoken, geographic area, and ethnicity served. Once a search is completed, a report of the search results can be created. An information specialist manages and updates the records and administers the resource directory.
The Client Satisfaction Survey is being redesigned into an online service evaluation instrument that will be routinely used by each victim service agency to ensure ongoing and consistent client feedback about Denver's victim service network.
Denver VS2000 hosted the National Multicultural
Institute's pilot training for trainers on their Cultural Considerations
in Assisting Crime Victims curriculum. The participants from this training
formed MOSAICa group of victim service and criminal justice professionals
that has worked together to develop a plan for addressing the need for
cultural competency in services to victims of crime. This plan includes
providing training to agencies and victim service providers on cultural
competency, creating access to resources and networking for traditionally
underserved communities, and creating a culture that values and promotes
the diversity of victim service professionals through development of culturally
competent recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies.
Denver VS2000 has created a citywide cross-training plan to improve resource referrals, interagency information, knowledge, and trust. The plan calls for each victim service program to host regular trainings onsite at its agency. These trainings are posted and registered with the Online Training Center, a feature of Denver VS2000's Web site.
OVC Bulletin, October 2000
Denver Victim Services 2000 Needs Assessment