NVAA 2000 Text

Chapter 20 Supplement Professionalizing the Discipline

of Victim Services

In September 1999, the Center for Child & Family Studies at the University of South Carolina has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime to research and make recommendations concerning issues of standards and credentialing for victim service professionals. As a component of this project, a national Consortium has been selected and convened, comprised of a multidisciplinary group of victim service professionals with a broad range of experience, including direct service, nonprofit advocacy, and governmental/public policy. One of the goals of the Consortium is to build collective expertise on training and practice in victim services.

The Consortium is a cooperative working group, and each member brings unique interests and philosophies to the table. An important concern for the Consortium is development of an inclusive approach based on shared service goals. Professional standards must provide accessibility to persons from diverse backgrounds, including the victim-survivors, grassroots advocates, and volunteers who for so many years have defined the workforce. The Consortium will be vigilant to the number of ways that experience and training prepare practitioners to provide quality service. Together, the varied professionals who comprise the Consortium will draft recommendations on program standards, training development, and professional competency (including ethical standards) for persons who work with victims of crime.

As a means of gathering input from the grassroots components of the victim assistance field, a series of "town hall" meetings were held in four diverse geographical locations: Augusta, ME; Boulder, CO; Topeka, KS; and Austin, TX. These meetings had a blended format--

between a traditional town hall and a traditional focus group meeting--to provide a base for the Consortium's thinking. Because much has already been done in the field of victim services to examine roles and perspectives in the field (e.g., New Directions from the Field), the meetings were not intended as exhaustive surveys of the field, but rather as an opportunity to gather an inside view of practitioner concerns regarding training, standards, and other professional development issues.

The Consortium will consider a number of resources in making recommendations for the development of individual and program standards, including: findings from the town hall meetings; academic research pertinent to the development of standards within professions; historical development and evolution of the field of victim services; development of standards in other service-oriented professions; and existing state-based credentialing and other training programs for victim service professionals. Contact: Dr. Dana DeHart, Project Director, National Victim Assistance Standards Consortium (803-777-7867) or dana.dehart@sc.edu.

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2000 NVAA Text
Chapter 20
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