Report to Congress
December 1999

Chapter 4

Forming Partnerships To Enhance
Victim Services

Working Within the U.S. Department of Justice and Office of
    Justice Programs
Forming Governmentwide Partnerships
Reinforcing Partnerships Through Training and Technical
Promoting Victims' Rights Through Community-Based Partnerships
Forming Allied Professional Partnerships

OVC works in close coordination and cooperation with other U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agencies, other Federal agencies, and the private sector to strengthen existing efforts and develop new initiatives to benefit crime victims. Through collaboration with other Office of Justice Programs (OJP), OVC attempts to identify areas for action and leverage financial resources to benefit crime victims. Participation in task forces, working groups, and planning groups are a major means by which OVC identifies issues important to crime victims and then develops or enhances programs to meet those needs. For instance, OVC works closely with the DOJ Office of Tribal Justice and the American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk to strengthen its enduring partnership with American Indian Tribes on reservations governed by Federal criminal jurisdiction by ensuring that DOJ Tribal justice initiatives contain a victims' component and by providing funding and expertise to ensure the rights and needs of crime victims in Indian Country. OVC continues to develop partnerships between all levels of government and with community-based programs designed to improve services to crime victims, including partnerships between American Indian Tribes and States.3

Working Within the U.S. Department of Justice and Office of Justice Programs

OVC puts much of its time and resources into working with other DOJ agencies to advance victims' rights, especially those within OJP. It does this by participating in various working groups to increase the effectiveness of the Federal effort and broaden the scope of its response to crime victims. Various OVC-led working groups within DOJ have helped to increase compliance with Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance, for Federal agencies serving crime victims, to raise awareness for underserved victim groups, and to ensure better coordination of DOJ-OJP victim programs. Other OVC cooperative efforts within DOJ include signing interagency agreements to expand collective resources and working closely with other agencies, namely the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), to develop program evaluation tools. OVC's partnerships with DOJ and OJP agencies improve services to victims by leveraging resources more effectively through collaboration on related projects. Several of these efforts are described below.

Line Various OVC-led working groups within DOJ have helped to increase compliance with Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance, for Federal agencies serving crime victims, to raise awareness for underserved victim groups, and to ensure better coordination of DOJ-OJP victim programs. Line
  • Deputy Attorney General's Working Group for Victims' Rights. OVC continued its efforts to further DOJ-wide compliance with the 1996 Presidential Directive on Victims' Rights and the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance by staffing and participating in the Deputy Attorney General's Victims' Rights Working Group. The Working Group's first meeting in May 1997 hosted representatives from every Justice agency with an interest in and responsibility to crime victims. OVC played a key role in developing the first draft of the modified AG Guidelines, which now has a new format with separate sections for investigators' offices, prosecutors' offices, and corrections agencies. This format is intended to clarify everyone's roles and make it easier for users to find the applicable guidelines. A 1999 distribution is planned for the final revised AG Guidelines.

  • Working Group on Mental Health and Crime. DOJ's interest in mental health and its relationship to crime is wide-ranging, and OVC recognizes the importance of tending to the mental health needs of all people victimized by violence. This includes helping children who have been abused or exposed to violence and reducing the possibility of acting out violently themselves. DOJ is also concerned with addressing the mental health of crime victims, including victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and terrorism. To further this understanding, the Assistant Attorney General for OJP in July 1998 established a Working Group on Mental Health and Crime. OVC is a member of this collaborative, along with all of the OJP bureaus and program offices. The working group is examining the impact of mental illness and mental health on victims, witnesses, and offenders and how the criminal justice system should respond.

  • OJP Rural Task Force. OVC staff participate in the OJP Rural Task Force, begun in FY 1998. Task force achievements include authoring a report on criminal justice in rural America and organizing and hosting a symposium on rural justice to recommend program directions for OJP to better assist rural jurisdictions.4 Participants worked to identify the critical resource needs of rural communities; develop Federal, State, and local solutions to address those needs; and formulate recommendations on how OJP can enhance its partnership with rural jurisdictions. One necessary resource identified by the task force included using technology to solve crime victims' needs. For example, battered women or stalking victims can use cellular telephones to report to police when they are in danger. Also, by providing basic and satellite downlinks at community colleges and police agencies, advanced training can be provided for victim service providers.

  • Family Violence Working Group (FVWG). OVC representatives participate in FVWG, whose mission is to focus more DOJ-OJP attention on violent crime within the family. As a result of improved intra-agency and interagency information exchange, coordinated planning to avoid duplicative projects, better collaboration, and informed feedback on many of the grant products, victims of family violence are offered better services.

  • Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). OVC strives to ensure that all victims receive fundamental justice and needed services. For instance, OVC also helped create a train-the-trainers video, which received three national awards including the Gold Award at WorldFest Flagstaff. The video, entitled "A Balance to Maintain," informs INS employees about the new INS Victim/Witness Assistance Program under development and highlights victims' rights and shows how to obtain assistance for immigrants who need help. The video, which also was a finalist at the 1999 WorldFest Houston and The New York Festivals, was produced in August 1998 by Executive Producer Robin Smith, Producer/Director Heidi Zecher, and Associate Producer Jennifer Crescenzo.

  • Responding to Victims With Disabilities. OVC funded several projects in FYs 1997–1998 that focused on the needs and issues of victims with disabilities. OVC also worked to sensitize and educate practitioners and policymakers on the need to include disability issues in their services and policies, and to form partnerships with disability advocates at every level.


"Project DOVE (Domestic Violence Eliminated) serves Malheur County in far eastern Oregon. Our region is predominately rural and agricultural; poverty is an ever present issue in this area. The extensive rurality of our area and the geographic isolation of many families can make it difficult to seek help for family violence. The VOCA funds we receive make it possible to provide outreach to the community, as well as the supportive services that are offered at the shelter. While we have always worked with other agencies, the recent realization by state agencies such as AFS (welfare program), SCF (child services), and SDSD (senior and disabled services) that domestic violence is a very real problem from many of their clients has enabled us to strengthen our relationships with them."

—Project DOVE, Ontario, Oregon


Forming Governmentwide Partnerships

OVC's commitment to ensuring that victims of crime have access to the best services available has prompted the formation of governmentwide partnerships to expand and improve service delivery to victims. OVC works cooperatively with other Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the State Department, and the U.S. Department of Education (DoEd), with all the bureaus inside OJP, and with other DOJ agencies to further its crime victims agenda. This commitment includes using technology to improve the response to victims by their advocates and to ensure that victims are informed of their rights and the services available to them. Several OVC partnerships with government agencies are discussed below.

  • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Victim and Witness Council. The DOD Victim and Witness Assistance Council meets quarterly, and members include the victim and witness assistance program coordinators for each Military Service, the Coast Guard, and officials serving in law enforcement, legal, and corrections fields who are responsible for victim and witness assistance programs and policies. The OVC representative acts as a liaison to the DOD, attends all council meetings and is responsible for assisting DOD and the military services to improve their capacity to provide services to victims of crime on military installations worldwide. For instance, OVC briefs members on DOJ developments, Federal crime victims issues, legislation, and initiatives. OVC encouraged DOD to provide the services and military installations with copies of the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. Moreover, without OVC's presence, the Council would not have known about the Guidelines.

    OVC's participation in the Council has fortified the ties among OVC, DOD, all the military services (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines), the Coast Guard, and Council members. This allows OVC to provide Council members with leadership in a regular forum for the interchange of information, the review of issues related to the rights of victims in the military justice system, and the exchange of ideas on improving services provided to victims. OVC highlighted several training opportunities and encouraged DOD, the military services, Coast Guard, and Council personnel to attend. OVC provided extensive resources to the Council which enabled DOD, the military services, and the Coast Guard to receive funding through reimbursable agreements that supported victim and witness assistance programs, projects, and training events. Examples include a sexual assault survivors video, a DOD specific Web site with online resource manual, and the Armed Forces Center for Child Protection. OVC has and will continue to be a catalyst for DOD, the military services, and the Coast Guard who now attend OVC-directed working task force and advisory group meetings and training events.

  • U.S. Department of Education (DoEd)—School Violence. Over the past 2 fiscal years OVC has worked closely with the DoEd to address the issue of school violence. In doing so, OVC jointly funded a grant with the DoEd on Community Crisis Response in Schools. This grant brought together school administrators from States around the country to develop a crisis response program in the event of school violence. In addition, OVC has collaborated with the DoEd in responding to various acts of school violence in recent years, including Springfield, Oregon, West Paducah, Kentucky, and Littleton, Colorado. Finally, OVC played an integral part in developing Project SERV, a program intended to create a nationwide crisis response initiative in situations involving school violence. OVC, FEMA, OJJDP, and HHS also worked with DoEd to develop the program and propose necessary legislation to implement it.

  • U.S. Department of State (DOS). Consistent with VOCA mandates, OVC continues to collaborate with the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, and other organizations to improve governmental response to Americans victimized abroad and to help other countries develop more effective and sensitive responses to victims worldwide. This includes programs to assist international visitors victimized in the United States, as well as U.S. citizens victimized abroad. OVC's FYs 1997–1998 action plans call for continued collaboration to develop training that will expand crime victim assistance programs in foreign countries and to integrate crime victim issues into international discussions of crime (see chapter 7, "Providing International Leadership and Responding to Victims of Terrorism"). In addition, OVC entered into several interagency agreements with DOS to provide services and assistance to victims of the embassy bombings in Africa and of Pan Am Flight 103. OVC resources were made available to the State Department to host meetings with victims and to cover expenses incurred by victims when no other resources were available. Funding was also used by the State Department to fund a victim/witness advocate position and fund training on victims' rights and services for consulate office staff worldwide.

Reinforcing Partnerships Through Training and Technical Assistance

During the last biennium, OVC continued to support partnerships formed to further victims' rights and to develop new ones. Training provided to specific groups reinforced OVC's partnerships with military professionals and law enforcement personnel. Since 1989, OVC has provided comprehensive, skills-building training and technical assistance uniquely tailored to the needs of American Indian/Alaska Native communities which have received funds from OVC's VAIC and CJA grant programs. OVC's program has been well received by the Tribes, and OVC's support is essential to ensuring that victim services programs receive the technical assistance needed to provide quality services to crime victims in Indian Country. These partnership initiatives are described below.

  • Federal Law Enforcement Training. Since 1986, OVC has provided funding to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to provide victim/witness training to Federal law enforcement officers from more than 70 agencies at its campuses in Georgia, South Carolina, and New Mexico. During FYs 1997–1998, approximately 13,800 law enforcement received training on such topics as interviewing techniques, financial fraud, and white-collar crime. OVC also provided intense technical assistance and funding to the FBI to enhance services to victims of Federal crime; OVC funded a number of skills development training programs for FBI victim/witness coordinators and 1,745 FBI staff were trained during this period. Additionally, about 3,000 DEA special agents and other staff received training on victim-related matters through OVC onsite training and assistance at three inservice training programs.

  • Training for Military Professionals. In FYs 1997–1998, OVC continued its longstanding and successful relationship with DOD. Funding through interagency agreements with the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps was used to provide needed worldwide training, technical assistance, and support to more than 1,100 DOD legal, law enforcement, corrections, clergy, and medical personnel who offer services to victims. These efforts enhanced the quality of services provided to victims of military crimes worldwide. OVC has approved funding for several innovative DOD projects that hold great potential to further improve the quality of victim assistance, such as the creation of a DOD victim assistance Web site, under development in FY 1999. This site will provide essential, timely information about victim assistance laws and regulations, procedures, and programs to military and civilian personnel assisting victims throughout the world.

  • Training for Advocates in Indian Country. In FYs 1997–1998, OVC received 88 requests for training and technical assistance from Tribal victim assistance programs in Indian Country. A total of 30 regional training seminars were provided, and 173 persons were trained in cross-cultural issues. A total of 320 Tribal personnel were trained on victim issues. The need for training personnel is ongoing, given the high turnover rate of victim assistance program staff. Training took place at the program level as well as the regional level. OVC also initiated postawards conferences for VAIC and CJA programs, training more than 125 VAIC program staff in financial and programmatic aspects of the grant and eligible activities, and affording opportunities to share concerns unique to programs in Indian Country.

  • Regional Training in Indian Country. Regional training events are advantageous to Indian Country programs because they provide opportunities for networking and forming relationships. For FYs 1997–1998, OVC coordinated 22 regional and/or onsite program training sessions focusing on specific CJA and/or VAIC victim issues. All the CJA programs in a targeted training area, such as Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona, were brought together for a 2 to 3 day event to examine CJA program concerns as well as other substantive issues specific to each program. A similar training format was used for VAIC programs, with an emphasis on developing permanent on-reservation services for victims of crime in Indian Country. Training issues examined such areas as developing and maintaining volunteer programs, helping victims complete compensation forms, and defining the role of Tribal advocates in the Tribal court system. To get effective agency participation without duplicating efforts, some training sessions targeted both CJA and VAIC programs.

Promoting Victims' Rights Through Community-Based Partnerships

OVC's training and technical assistance initiatives promote victims' rights in several ways. One technique OVC used to promote victims' rights was to award promising practices grants to public and private nonprofit organizations. These grants inform victim services of successful practices and approaches that will assist crime victims and the allied professionals who serve them.

Current OVC-funded initiatives reflect the diversity of victims with disabilities and the training and technical assistance needs of practitioners who serve them. OVC works to sensitize and educate victim services practitioners and allied professionals. OVC projects promote culturally appropriate and linguistically accessible services for Deaf and Deaf-Blind victims of sexual assault and domestic violence; support development of a training curriculum for law enforcement, advocacy, and protection workers who assist crime victims with disabilities; and support an innovative partnership between the largest developmental disability advocacy—the ARC of the U.S.—and the largest victim assistance organization—NOVA—in the Nation to train their members on how to better identify and serve victims. The following are some of the activities that exemplify OVC's dedication to these issues.

  • Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD). A collaborative relationship was established with the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) which enables OVC and ADD grantees to develop collaborative strategies that will serve crime victims. OVC has joined with a working group of national developmental disability advocacy organizations to enhance the criminal justice and victim assistance response to victims with developmental disabilities.

  • Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Service (ADWAS). OVC awarded funding to ADWAS in Seattle, Washington, to produce, with the National Association for the Deaf and Deaf Women United, the first-ever video for the Deaf community on the dynamics of domestic violence. The open-captioned video features Deaf actors using Sign Language.

OVC promotes inclusive practices in the victim assistance field to ensure all victims, including those with disabilities, receive needed services. OVC is funding a video for the victim assistance field, expected to be available in FY 2000, that will illustrate the issues and challenges involved in identifying and responding to crime victims with disabilities, as well as highlight unique programs and promising practices for serving such victims. OVC's TTAC supported several Speaker's Bureau requests concerning disability issues, which included funding four speakers at a 1998 conference of the California Criminal Justice Task Force for People with Developmental Disabilities. Finally, OVC expanded the National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) text to include comprehensive information on serving crime victims with disabilities in the formative training of victim assistants nationwide.

In addition, OVC encourages other community-based partnerships to improve victim services. The following are a few examples of such partnerships.

  • Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC). Through an interagency agreement with OJJDP, the National Network of Children's Advocacy Center, Inc. received a grant to allow it to continue to provide training and technical assistance to improve the response of local communities to child abuse through special projects. This funding has allowed the network to—

    (1) Offer training and technical assistance to the Safe Kids/Safe Streets grantees. This is a comprehensive program to address child abuse and neglect in five grant locations through system reform and accountability, continuum of services for children and families, data collection, and prevention education.

    (2) Support a demonstration project that establishes a regional network of sexual assault forensic examination units using video camera technology.

    (3) Produce a training videotape featuring the co-existence and connection between child abuse and domestic violence.

Another interagency agreement between OVC and OJJDP is assisting Indian Tribes in establishing Children's Advocacy Centers on reservations. The Tulalip Tribe was selected as a demonstration site to develop a coordinated strategy for meeting the needs of American Indian child victims and the criminal justice system.

  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). With OVC funding support, MADD developed four death notification training manuals targeting the professions of law enforcement, mental health counselors and victim advocates, medical personnel, and clergy and funeral directors. Each manual outlines procedures to follow when notifying someone of the death of a loved one and includes information on debriefing those who must perform this task and sample resource materials to use.

Forming Allied Professional Partnerships

In FYs 1997–1998, OVC's many training and technical assistance projects aligned with several OVC goals. These included promoting victims' rights through projects designed to serve all victims, including victims of fraud. OVC's district-specific and other training projects targeted groups, such as law enforcement, other Justice agencies, and the mental health community to improve victim services. Other OVC training and technical assistance initiatives helped local communities to respond to their own victims' needs. Initiatives such as Community Crisis Response, victim-offender mediation, and training and technical assistance for Indian Country helped to produce infrastructure change within communities and to make them more self-sustaining.

OVC's many training and technical assistance projects, described below, are changing the way crime victimization and the treatment of crime victims is handled in this country—from identifying new groups to receive victim services to raising awareness for their needs to designing better services to meet those needs, OVC remains at the center of this paradigm shift.

  • American Bar Association (ABA) Studies on Statutory Rape. OVC funded an ABA project to survey all States regarding statutory rape legislation. This survey led to the formation of a handbook to help legislators and policymakers identify issues they should consider to amend their statutory rape laws or develop new laws. This same grant also produced a training guide which contains practical suggestions to increase the reporting of this crime, to improve investigations and prosecutions of the offenders, to improve treatment of the victims and offenders, and to develop sound sentencing practices to guide judges in these cases.

  • University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. OVC provided funding to the School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, in FY 1997 to develop a comprehensive education model for dentists and dental auxiliaries regarding family violence. The project produced a training videotape on appropriate interventions with victims of family violence who are seen in the dental setting; developed a curriculum for a 6-hour seminar designed to train dental professionals to recognize family violence and to implement appropriate intervention; and designed a comprehensive training packet which enables the dental team to easily apply the intervention model to their own office setting. In the next phase of the project, the grantee will develop a videotape to train dental staff to identify the clinical signs of family violence in the patients they examine. In addition, the grantee will conduct several regional training programs using these materials.

  • Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR). OVC recognizes that emotional and psychological trauma suffered as a result of crime is unique, and that mental health professionals are not always trained to respond effectively to crime victims who seek their services. In FY 1997, OVC continued to sponsor a project exemplifying the need for collaborative partnerships with other fields to truly meet the needs of crime victims. The project, Bridging the Systems—with the Mental Health Community, is designed to empower victims, to promote effective response to crime victim needs by mental health professionals, and to bridge a professional gap between them and victim providers. This OVC grant produced a curriculum used at three pilot training sessions, which generated more requests for training, including requests from the U.S. Navy.

  • National Sheriffs' Association. TRIAD—A Three-Way Effort, is a joint OVC-BJA program seeking to improve the response to elderly victims of crime that has resulted in the formation of 585 TRIAD programs nationwide vs. 155 programs in early 1994 when the training program began. A TRIAD consists of a three-way effort involving (1) a sheriff, (2) the police chiefs in the county, and (3) American Association of Retired Persons or older/retired leadership in the area. These three components have agreed to work together to reduce victimization of older citizens and to enhance delivery of law enforcement services to them.


One of OVC's goals in serving victims more effectively is to encourage partnerships throughout the government and in the communities themselves so that victim services are in place to meet those needs. OVC urges everyone who interacts with victims, from police officers to prosecutors, from judges to corrections officials, from members of the clergy to business leaders, to join in the dialogue and implement the programs and reforms that make sense for their own communities. As part of those efforts to improve services to victims of crime, OVC gathers together people who have an interest in victim issues to discuss and develop guidelines to create programs in response to victim needs.


3Many of the partnerships entered into by OVC result in the development of memorandums of understanding and/or interagency protocols.

4A summary of victim issues identified at the symposium is included in the conference proceedings available from OJP.

Report to Congress Report to Congress December 1999                                           OVCOffice for Victims of Crime

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