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Training, Education, and Technical Assistance Initiatives

OVC is committed to providing victim service organizations with the necessary training, technical assistance, and material resources to develop and deliver high-quality services and to providing victim advocates, criminal justice personnel, allied professionals, and the faith community with the knowledge and skills to meet victims' needs.

To reach these goals, OVC is enhancing the ability of its own Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) to develop and deliver high-quality training and technical assistance that meet the continuing and emerging needs of the field. These efforts include establishing national and state victim assistance academies; developing training that recognizes the specialized interests of law enforcement, judicial, corrections, social services, and faith-based program personnel; and initiating an effort to extend the accessibility of victim advocacy training via Web-based curriculum development. Because each initiative shares the goal of improving the delivery of services to victims, each effort supports the others in reaching the overall goal of a seamless national system of victim services.

OVC's Training Calendar for Victim Service Providers

Professionals in the victim services field need tools to consistently build their technical skills and enhance their knowledge in leadership, professional development, and training design and delivery. Through the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center, OVC brings comprehensive skill-building sessions to victim service providers nationwide. OVC's Training Calendar for Victim Service Providers features current, action-oriented training sessions that are relevant to crime victim services. Workshops help service providers build technical skills and enhance their knowledge of victim service issues. OVC's trainers include well-known and highly respected experts in the victim service field and leaders in corporate, nonprofit, and other major organizations. These experts deliver timely, relevant, and practical training. Currently scheduled training sessions include the sexual assault advocate/counselor training, the Professional Development Institute, and leadership in victim services, as well as a number of mini-workshops that address the principles and practices of adult learning, the impact of sexual assault, care for the caregivers: preventing compassion fatigue, leadership, strategic planning, program evaluation, and human resource development. For more details, visit the calendar online.

National Victim Assistance Academy

Since its inception in 1995, the National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) has provided an academically based curriculum that emphasizes foundations in victimology and victims' rights and services for nearly 2,000 victim service professionals from every state and territory and 7 foreign nations. NVAA's three primary goals are (1) to develop and implement a comprehensive, research-based, foundation-level course of academic instruction that provides victim advocates with cutting-edge knowledge about victim assistance and the field of victimology; (2) to provide high-quality, intensive education and training to victim service providers, advocates, and professionals from federal, state, local, and tribal settings; and (3) to create a training model that can be adapted and integrated into institutions of higher learning and other venues.

NVAA offers a 40-hour research-based course of study and produces a comprehensive text that now covers more than 38 subject areas. The interactive course of study includes lectures, working and discussion groups, exercises, computer laboratory modules, faculty mentoring groups, and self-examinations. The most recent NVAA, held in FY 2002, also included a live satellite training broadcast: "Victims of Terrorism and Mass Violence: A Continuum of Care." OVC sponsored the broadcast with the Victim Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR) and Eastern Kentucky University. The telecast was designed for victim advocates, law enforcement officials, mental health professionals, and emergency responders.

A formal evaluation of NVAA was completed in 2003. It assessed the appropriateness and effectiveness of the academy model and its impact on students, institutions of higher learning, and the victim services field. The findings were generally positive; however, respondents concluded that the NVAA structure and text need to be updated and that a standardized curriculum should be developed. The revised text would be used to create the standardized curriculum, which in turn would offer training that both addresses the needs of adult learners and effective instructional practices and provides foundation- and advanced-level training in specialized topics, training that offers hands-on experiences more relevant to providers' day-to-day work with victims, and management-level training. For more details visit the NVAA Web site.

State Victim Assistance Academies

State Victim Assistance Academies (SVAAs) provide comprehensive, academically based, foundation-level education for victim assistance providers, victim advocates, and allied professionals. SVAAs use the National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) model for developing training programs in partnership with academic institutions, and the SVAA curriculum is based on the NVAA course curriculum and text. OVC launched the SVAA initiative in 1999 with the award of competitive discretionary grants to Colorado, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah. Each site received supplemental OVC awards in Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 for the third and final year of funding. Also in FY 2002, OVC awarded funds to five additional states to establish SVAAs: Arizona, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Oregon. Georgia, Illinois, and New York received funding in FY 2003. Each SVAA site develops a planning committee,establishes a partnership with an academic host university, formulates the student selection criteria, assesses the specific needs of the respective state, and develops, implements, and evaluates the training program. OVC strongly encourages the development of similar initiatives in other states, with the goal of creating a national network of SVAA academies. For more information, visit the SVAA page on the OVC Web site.

Basic Victim Advocacy Web-Based Training Course

To meet the need for an alternative, affordable, and user-friendly source of victim advocacy and services training that providers can take at their convenience, OVC allocated funding to develop and test accessible online training that teaches providers how to identify and respond to the basic needs of all victims. This Web course will focus on the "how-to" of victim services and advocacy, including how to work within culturally diverse communities. The course will develop, beta test, and refine an online victim assistance training course founded in the core competencies of effective victim service. Cicatelli Associates, in partnership with the National Center for Victims of Crime, Safe Horizon, and SafePlace, will develop the Victim Advocacy Training Online Project—an evidence- and Web-based training program that gives providers the skills they need to identify and respond to all victims. An analysis of the demand and intent to use the training, a training needs assessment, a functional analysis of duties, a literature review, and a review of existing resources and curricula will be conducted. A comprehensive evaluation will be conducted to assess the Web course's usability, relevance, and impact. The final version of the course will be pilot tested, marketed, and disseminated to providers. For more details, visit Cicatelli Associates.

National Youth Education Project

OVC recognizes the importance of developing a national public awareness and education initiative that focuses on victimization among adolescents, an age group at risk for myriad forms of violence, including child abuse, dating violence, sexual victimization, school bullying, and gang-related violence. Recent research also indicates that witnessing violence has a long-lasting impact on children and adolescents. These children are at higher risk for behavioral problems such as chronic delinquency and academic failure. They are more likely to become involved in adult criminal behavior and drug-related offenses later in life than children who grow up in nonviolent surroundings.

In this light, OVC competitively awarded funding to the National Crime Prevention Council, a youth organization, to work with 20 schools and community-based youth organizations to develop victimization awareness initiatives in the school and community. Youth organizations, especially those in school settings, can play a central role in educating adolescents about the dynamics of victimization by giving them information on where to find help and support if they are victimized.

Building Skills for Sexual Assault Responders: Sexual Assault Advocate/Counselor Training Curriculum

OVC advances the treatment of victims of specific crimes, particularly rape and sexual assault. OVC has provided strong leadership in the development of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs and Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs), which have made a profound difference in the quality of care provided for sexual assault victims. OVC funded this initiative to develop an advanced training curriculum for sexual assault advocates and counselors that would help them increase their understanding of sexual assault and treatment efficacy. The training, which has been delivered in 18 jurisdictions throughout the country, is available through the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center. This training is intended primarily for sexual assault advocates, counselors, volunteers, or staff at rape crisis centers. However, nurses, including sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), physicians, law enforcement officers, and mental health practitioners who assist sexual assault victims may also benefit. With a focus on crisis intervention rather than long-term counseling, the training helps participants deepen their understanding of the problem of sexual assault and the roles of an advocate or counselor. Through case studies, role playing, and other interactive exercises, participants gain real-world skills to assist sexual assault victims effectively and sensitively. For more information, visit the OVC TTAC Web site.

National Sexual Assault Response Team Training Conference

The National Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Training Conference is a biennial event that features national experts who offer state-of-the-art, evidence-based training on sexual assault for practitioners in medicine, forensic nursing, crime labs, law enforcement, prosecution, and victim advocacy. The conference focuses on team-building and appropriate roles for SART members, as well as promising practices in reaching out to sexual assault victims—the least likely of all victims to report their victimization to law enforcement. Almost 800 practitioners attended the 2003 conference in New Orleans. The third National SART Training Conference is scheduled for May 2005. Read about the conference.

First Responders DNA Evidence Training and Technical Assistance Project

The goal of this project is to enhance the systemic response to victims of sexual assault by developing and disseminating a training curriculum about the collection and use of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases—including child sexual abuse cases in Indian Country—for law enforcement and other first responders. The project also seeks to improve the availability of standardized evidence collection kits used in medical forensic exams by reimbursing jurisdictions that lack sufficient funding to buy them. In addition, the project will promote a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates victims' issues and concerns while it maximizes the collection and use of DNA evidence in cases. For more information, visit the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Sexual Assault Response Team Web site.

DNA Evidence: Critical Issues for Those Who Work With Victims

Improvement in the use of DNA evidence is a critical issue for victims. As the technology advances and DNA evidence is used to solve recent criminal cases, reinvestigate old cases, and identify victims, the criminal justice system must recognize and manage the residual effects these actions may have on victims. This project will develop a training video for victim advocates, criminal justice practitioners, and others who have contact with victims whose crimes were solved using DNA evidence. The video will highlight a range of issues related to DNA evidence that are critical for victims, including the definition of DNA, its value, how it is used, and what victims can expect during the DNA testing process. The video also will highlight the collection and preservation of evidence, the crime's impact on victims, victim notification at points along the collection and testing process, and victim participation in the process.

Victims of Crime With Disabilities Resource Guide

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities and the Wyoming INstitute for Disabilities have compiled a searchable online database of training and technical assistance resources related to victims with disabilities. It includes book listings, training manuals, videos, programs, and several new services such as a calendar of training and other events, a monthly newsletter, online discussions, funding information, and information on research and other reports relevant to serving victims with disabilities. The project will also support extensive marketing and dissemination activities, including conference promotion and cross linking with national Web sites. View the resource guide online.

Strategic Planning Project

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2002, OVC funded a multiphase initiative to develop administrative tools to help state administrators manage VOCA grants more efficiently, and implement strategic planning in their states. To achieve this collaborative effort, OVC supported the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (NAVAA), the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB), and OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center in creating various tools. Through this collaboration, a strategic planning toolkit was developed that offers guidelines, tools, and resources for use throughout the strategic planning process. The toolkit was used to train selected teams from California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington on how to develop a strategic plan within their states.

NAVAA also received OVC funding to develop a subgrant monitoring toolkit for state VOCA victim assistance administrators and staff. This toolkit, which is scheduled for release in FY 2005, will include suggested policies and procedures for states to adequately and thoroughly conduct various monitoring activities such as desk reviews and onsite visits.

Both NACVCB and NAVAA are developing orientation training manuals for new state VOCA compensation and assistance administrators and respective staff. Each manual will offer an overview of the responsibilities and relevant information and resources necessary to successfully administer state programs. NAVAA will also produce training materials in interactive electronic formats. Meanwhile, NACVCB is updating its Compensation Protocol: A Guide to Responding to Mass Casualty Incidents to incorporate lessons learned from the events of September 11 and other mass violence crimes.

Corrections-Based Victim Services Training

Although victim services in correctional settings exist in every state, some continue to be offender-focused rather than victim-focused. To change this, OVC entered into a partnership with the National Institute of Corrections and the Corrections Program Office (now part of the Bureau of Justice Assistance) to train corrections-based victim service providers about the impact of crime on victims, victimization dynamics and corresponding victim needs, and the skills necessary to shift their focus from the offender to the victim.

Specifically, the training is designed to provide information on relevant issues, such as victims' rights, victim safety, and restitution and compensation, as well as seamless service delivery within the corrections field. The training also facilitates resource sharing, networking, and planning for future staff development opportunities for coordinators. This partnership will ensure that each state corrections victim services coordinator receives annual, state-of-the-art training on various victims ' issues and is given timely information on program models and promising practices for improving victim services that can be adapted to fit his or her state. For more details, visit the National Institute of Corrections Web site.

Indicators of Elder Abuse: A Training Curriculum for Probation and Parole Officers

This project will develop a curriculum to help probation and parole practitioners understand the dynamics of elder abuse and give them the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to victims of elder abuse. The course will be pilot tested in four geographically diverse regions of the country and revised as needed. The grantee will collaborate with the American Bar Association's Commission on Law and Aging and Justice Solutions, Inc.

Training for Physicians on Elder Abuse

The mortality rate for elderly victims of crime is triple that of other older people—and because the elderly visit their doctors more frequently than the general population, physicians are well positioned to intervene on behalf of elderly victims. However, little is taught about elder abuse in medical schools, in spite of there being a number of well-recognized risk factors.

To address this inequity, OVC funded the Baylor College of Medicine to develop a curriculum for academic physicians and other health professionals that focuses on the risk factors and indicators of elder abuse, appropriate intervention strategies, reporting and documenting requirements, and cooperation with law enforcement. The grantee pilot tested the training at medical schools in Houston, Texas, during the first year, targeting faculty in geriatrics, family practice, emergency medicine, surgery, and general internal medicine. The curriculum was revised based on the results of the pilot test and has been further tested elsewhere in the state. The curriculum is currently being finalized. With funding in its third year, the grantee will develop an interactive Web site for ongoing education, technical assistance, and interdisciplinary case consultations with participating medical school sites.

Economic Crime Summit Conference

Sponsored by the National White Collar Crime Center, OVC, and other regional sponsors, the annual Economic Crime Summit Conference encourages networking and information sharing between private companies and public sector agencies. It also provides an opportunity to learn from model programs and to share best practices that address economic and high-tech crime at many levels. Topics at the regional 2004 conferences include Internet fraud, identity theft, and elder fraud. In previous years, topics also included money laundering, insurance crime, and health care fraud. Attendees include law enforcement personnel from local, state, and federal agencies; security professionals in the private and public sector; victim service advocates; certified fraud examiners; fraud investigators from federal, state, and local agencies; auditors and loss prevention specialists; corporate officials with detection and fraud prevention responsibilities; prosecutors and crime prevention specialists; and professionals in academia interested in fraud prevention and economic crime. For more details, visit the conference Web site.

Urban High Crime Neighborhood Initiative

The Urban High Crime Neighborhood Initiative was launched by OVC at six pilot sites: Bronx, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Kansas; Los Angeles, California; Shelby County, Tennessee; and St. Paul, Minnesota. These jurisdictions are developing a comprehensive plan for meeting the needs of victims in targeted neighborhoods. During the first year, all of the sites conducted a needs assessment to identify gaps in services and began developing a strategic plan to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration to improve services. Through broad, multidisciplinary coalitions established in the first year, the sites will develop and begin implementing plans to address the service gaps in the second year. These plans will use existing community resources and additional resources developed through the initiative. The grantees also will develop formal protocols for making referrals, plans for evaluating their initiatives, plans for sustainability, and public awareness campaigns. To support the pilot sites, the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center has developed needs assessment surveys and protocols for stakeholder discussion groups, and will deliver ongoing technical assistance.

Training and Technical Assistance to Services for Trafficking Victims Grantees

Safe Horizon, one of the Nation's largest victim assistance and advocacy agencies, facilitated eight training sessions and completed five site visits to trafficking grantees during 2003. It also consulted on 6 cases and responded to more than 30 technical assistance requests in addition to facilitating monthly conference calls with the trafficking grantees and producing a guide on safety protocols for victim service providers.

Safe Horizon operates 75 service programs throughout New York City's five boroughs and serves certified victims of trafficking through funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency partners with other nongovernmental organizations, local and federal law enforcement, and community leaders on the New York City Community Response to Trafficking Project. For more information, visit the Safe Horizon Web site.

Crime Victim State Scholarship Program

Victims play a central role in informing the development of victim assistance policy, protocol, and training. However, most state and local organizations do not have the funding to support victim participation in the statewide conferences where much of the information dissemination and discussion about policy, protocol, service delivery, and training occurs. Likewise, victims also often do not have the resources to attend conferences. To alleviate this problem, OVC has established the Crime Victim State Scholarship Program, which offers funding to organizations to provide scholarships for victims to attend statewide conferences on victims' issues. The scholarships will cover expenses such as travel, lodging, conference fees, and other costs associated with attending conferences. The OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center is developing a plan to administer the scholarship fund.

OVC Professional Development Scholarship Program

This scholarship program provides financial assistance for qualified victim service providers to receive continuing education. The program is designed for service providers from small, community- or faith-based organizations that assist victims and operate with limited budgets or resources. Specifically, the program offers up to $1,000 for individuals and $5,000 for multidisciplinary teams (up to five members from the same organization who register for the same training) to help cover the registration, travel, and hotel accommodations costs of attending approved training events. Eligible recipients include victim service providers, victim advocates, social service providers, mental health workers, health care professionals, and substance abuse workers. For more information, visit the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center Web site.

The Ultimate Trainer: An OVC Curriculum for Training Design and Delivery

Formerly known as the Ultimate Educator Program, this revised interactive training curriculum will help participants build their knowledge and skills for planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating quality training programs. During the training program, participants will use newly learned concepts and skills to develop a lesson plan for a training session at their agency. The intended audience typically includes victim service providers and allied professionals who develop and deliver training but do not have a formal background or extensive experience in adult education or instructional design. For more information, visit the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center Web site.

Professional Development Institute

OVC developed the Professional Development Institute (PDI) in response to field practitioners who expressed interest in training on management issues in victim services. The institute, which was first presented at the 1999 NOVA conference, is a 16.5-hour training course presented in five modules by experts in human resource and victim services management. The five modules include theoretical concepts and practical guidelines for leadership, strategic planning, human resource development, and program evaluation. The intended audience includes program managers and supervisors who want to better manage services, resources, and staff. For more information, visit the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center Web site.


By supporting these programs, OVC continues its mission of helping victim service providers develop protocols, enhance responses, refine training programs, and improve leadership skills. Its focus on state-specific resources, all age groups, the specialized needs of service providers, and the use of new technologies to share information ensures that the most comprehensive information is delivered to frontline service providers.


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