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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.

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