Over the past 20 years, the field of victim services has grown from a small grassroots effort to an emerging profession. The advancement of the rights of victims, once achieved through adversarial struggles and lawsuits, is now accomplished through multidisciplinary efforts and collaborations among former adversaries throughout the country. Today there is greater understanding of victims issues due to legislation enacted to support victims rights, increased funding for victim services, and hard work by many victim advocates. Out of these efforts, understanding has grown and collaboration on behalf of victims is unprecedented.
The publics awareness of crime victimization has developed largely due to accounts given by victims and survivors and the hard work and advocacy of the service providers working with them. As the victim services movement has grown, alliances and collaborations among service providers have increased. Out of the interrelationships among certain victimizationssuch as sexual assault, domestic violence, and partner, child, and elder abusehave grown new agendas for collaboration in advocacy, programming, legislation, and education.
Alliances have developed among criminal justice advocates, community-based agencies, educators, institutions, and other allied professionals. Within the criminal justice system, collaboration has taken hold as well. The public expects the agencies of the criminal justice system to uphold the law and provide protection from crime. When research documented that the public had lost confidence in the system, parts of the criminal justice system were prompted to find new ways to address problems. Asking whether our reactive, adversarial approach to justice and law enforcement continues to make sense as our only, or even our primary, response to crime, criminal justice offices and professionals reached out to the criminal justice system and beyond to work collaboratively with various agencies to address the safety and well-being of our communities.
Victim Services 2000 (VS2000) represents all of these forms of collaboration. Funded by a discretionary grant from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), VS2000 is a demonstration project designed to create a comprehensive, coordinated, seamless system for delivery of services to victims of crime. OVC selected two VS2000 sites for the development and implementation of two comprehensive collaboration models: Denver, Colorado, in 1997, as the urban site and Vermont, in 1998, as the rural site. Both sites were charged with developing a distinct model for seamless delivery of victim services, tailored to their particular geographic, political, and demographic complexities and using the concepts of collaboration and innovation. Once this was accomplished, both VS2000 sites were charged with developing and providing information and technical assistance about their particular VS2000 model of victim services.
One of a series, this bulletin documents VS2000 initiatives in Denver and addresses planning and collaboration, the factors most critical to the success of any interdisciplinary effort. While each VS2000 model is unique, some common themes run through them, including a strong emphasis on creative collaboration and planning.