The National Victim Assistance Academy is a university-based foundation level course of study in victim assistance and victimology that was developed through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime to a coordinated team of co-sponsors: VALOR, the Victims' Assistance Legal Organization, Inc.; California State University-Fresno; and the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. In 1998, the Academy welcomed two new co-sponsors: the Center for the Study of Crime Victims' Rights, Remedies and Resources, University of New Haven; and Washburn University. This unique collaboration among a nonprofit organization and academic institutions has produced a solid foundation for state-of-the-art education and training.
FIVE ACADEMY SITES
The 1999 Academy is being conducted simultaneously on the campuses of American University in Washington, D.C., California State University-Fresno, Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. The five Academy classes will be joined utilizing state-of-the-art distance learning technology for approximately 10 of the 45 hours. A team of expert faculty in residence and visiting faculty at each site will teach course sections. The interactive skills-building course includes lectures, interactive and experiential exercises, working groups, computer laboratories, faculty mentoring groups, and self examinations.
The 45-hour academic-based, rigorous course curriculum emphasizes foundations in victimology and victims' rights and services, as well as new developments in the field of victim assistance. A newly rewritten comprehensive text covering 36 different subject areas has been developed to serve as the course curriculum. Academy students are expected to attend the entire program and to participate in laboratory and working group sessions.
Academic credit at both the graduate and undergraduate levels is offered by California State University-Fresno (CSUF), the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and Washburn University to all Academy students who successfully complete the 45-hour course. The course credit is fully transferrable worldwide, as all universities are nationally accredited institutions of higher learning.
CERTIFICATE OF GRADUATION
All Academy students will be awarded a certificate from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime and the co-sponsoring organizations for successful completion of the Academy. Additional certificates will be awarded by CSUF, MUSC, and Washburn, respectively, to those students who elect to receive academic credit.
Co-Sponsoring Agencies and Institutions
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) was established by the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to oversee diverse programs that benefit victims of crime. OVC provides substantial funding to state victim assistance and compensation programs--the lifeline services that help victims to heal. The agency also supports trainings designed to educate criminal justice and allied professionals regarding the rights and needs of crime victims. OVC is one of five bureaus and four offices, with grant-making authority, within the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
The Office for Victims of Crime is committed to enhancing the nation's capacity to assist crime victims and to providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime. OVC works with national, international, state, military, and tribal victim assistance and criminal justice agencies, as well as other professional organizations, to promote fundamental rights and comprehensive services for crime victims. OVC's leadership at the federal level also encompasses activities designed to draw public attention to crime victims' needs and to promote victims' rights through legislation and public policy.
The Victims' Assistance Legal Organization, Inc. (VALOR)
The Victims' Assistance Legal Organization, Inc. (VALOR) was founded in 1979 by the late Frank Carrington as a national organization dedicated to promoting the rights of victims of crime in the civil and criminal justice systems. With support from foundations, individuals and government grants and contracts, VALOR accomplishes its mission through: promoting public education and awareness about the rights and needs of crime victims; advancing public policy reforms on the federal, state and local levels; and improving services to assist crime victims in their emotional, financial, and physical recovery through education and training programs.
VALOR's recent activities include administration and conduct of the National Victim Assistance Academy (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999); developing OVC's 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 National Crime Victims' Rights Week Resource Guides; conducting the OVC-sponsored 1995 Restitution Reform Project and the 1997 Promising Practices in Restitution Project; and providing leadership on criminal justice system reforms in the areas of sentencing, parole, child abuse, and juvenile justice.
California State University-Fresno
California State University-Fresno (CSUF) has served as the Academic lead for the 1995-1997 Academy and provides elective undergraduate and graduate credit for Academy students in all sites. The on-campus sponsor for the Academy is the Department of Criminology, which has a long history of leadership in university-based crime victim related education. CSUF was the first University in the nation to develop and conduct a program of study in victim services. Started in 1985, today the University offers an undergraduate degree in victimology, a graduate degree with a specialization in victimology, and a month-long summer institute on victim services. The Justice Center at CSUF is also actively involved in victims' issues including research on various forms of domestic violence with the California District Attorneys Association. CSUF is the lead campus with the California State University and University of California Systems for the development of a Joint Doctorate Degree in Criminology with an emphasis in Victimology. It is anticipated that this will be the first Ph.D. program of Victimology in the nation. The University established an important precedent by providing academic credit for the OVC-sponsored Civil Remedies Training Series in 1992 and 1993.
National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center
Medical University of South Carolina
The National Crime Victim Research and Treatment Center (CVC) is a division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina. Since 1974, CVC has been devoted to developing a better understanding of the impact of criminal victimization on adults, children, and their families. Program activities include: research; professional education; clinical service; and public policy consultation at the local, state and federal levels. The faculty members of the CVC are widely regarded as leaders in scientific research on the consequences of crime and victimization and as experts in assessment and treatment of crime-related psychological trauma. In 1997, the CVC developed the Academy's first videotape, focusing on the mental health impact of crime, and counseling and advocacy issues for crime victims. MUSC provides elective undergraduate and graduate credit for Academy students in all sites.
Center for the Study of Crime Victims' Rights, Remedies and Resources
University of New Haven
The University of New Haven offers a program in Victim Services Administration that provides cutting-edge, practice-oriented education and training, focusing on the appropriate involvement of victims in the justice system and the improvement of service provision to victims of crime. The Victim Services Administration Education and Training Programs are coordinated with the Center for the Study of Crime Victims' Rights, Remedies and Resources. The Center conducts a variety of activities as part of its mission to improve the treatment of victims of crime through research, teaching, conferences, and legal policy advocacy. The Center strives to both increase public knowledge and understanding of victim issues and to expose relevant professionals, and the community-at-large, to this important area.
Washburn University was founded as a municipal university in the state capital, Topeka, in 1865. In response to escalating concerns about crime and violence, staff and faculty from a variety of administrative and academic departments recently formed the Center on Violence and Public Policy. The Center serves as a consortium for University-sponsored initiatives intended to address issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The Center includes staff and faculty from criminal justice, social work, human services, psychology, legal technology, and continuing education. The Victim Assistance Program (VAP), an educational series for professionals who serve those who have experienced loss and trauma, was established as a program of the Center in 1995. The School of Applied Studies, Human Services Department, provides an undergraduate degree in victim/survivor studies. Since 1996, The Center on Violence and Public Policy has served as host for the National Victim Assistance Academy at Washburn University. The university provides elective undergraduate and graduate credit to Academy students in all sites.