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Training, Education, and Technical Assistance

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 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 accommodates the specialized interests of law enforcement, judicial, corrections, social services, and faith-based program personnel; and extending the accessibility of victim advocacy training through Web-based curriculum development.

OVC's Training Calendar for Victim Service Providers

Victim services professionals need tools to build their technical skills and enhance their knowledge in leadership, professional development, and training design and delivery. OVC's Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) brings comprehensive skill-building sessions to victim service providers nationwide. Workshops help service providers build technical skills and enhance their knowledge of victim service issues. OVC's trainers include highly respected experts in the victim services field and leaders within corporate, nonprofit, and other major organizations, and these experts deliver timely and practical training. Currently scheduled training sessions are listed below. For more details, visit the OVC Training Calendar.

    OVC Training for Victim Service Providers

    Sexual Assault Advocate/Counselor Training. Focusing on crisis intervention rather than long-term counseling, participants gain real-world skills to assist victims effectively and sensitively through case studies, role-playing, and other interactive exercises.

    Providing Culturally Competent Services to Victims of Crime. Through activities and case studies, this workshop explores the challenges and benefits of providing culturally competent care for victims.

    Leadership in Victim Services. Using case studies and examples from inside and outside the victim services field, this workshop focuses on the qualities, attitudes, styles, and strategies of true leaders in victim services.

    Curriculum Design Training for Victim Service Providers. This interactive workshop trains victim service provider trainers on how to create skill-based trainings. Applying adult-learning principles, participants develop an actual training module.

    Basics of Strategic Planning. This training is designed for program managers and supervisors who want to enhance performance in managing services, resources, and staff through effective strategic planning.

    Needs Assessment. This workshop presents needs assessment to managers as a critical tool and necessary first step to program planning and evaluation.

    Program Evaluation. This workshop provides victim service agencies with the information, skills, and tools needed for planning and implementation of ongoing evaluation of their programs and services.

    Professional Development Institute. This training provides theoretical concepts and practical guidelines for leadership, strategic planning, human resource development, and program evaluation.

    The Ultimate Trainer. For 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, this interactive training builds the knowledge and practical skills needed to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate quality training programs.

National Victim Assistance Academy

Since its inception in 1995, the National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) has provided an academic curriculum that emphasizes foundations in victimology and victims' rights and services for more than 2,000 victim service professionals from every state and territory and 7 foreign nations. NVAA's primary goals are to:

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive, research-based, foundation-level course of academic instruction encompassing cutting-edge knowledge about victim assistance and the field of victimology.
  • Provide high-quality, intensive education and training to victim service providers, advocates, and other professionals from federal, state, local, and tribal settings.
  • 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, interactive course of study covering more than 38 subject areas through lectures, working and discussion groups, exercises, computer laboratory modules, faculty mentoring groups, and self-examinations, blending theory and practice in an academic setting. The Academy has also developed educational videos and learning guides. For example, in 2002, NVAA created a live satellite training broadcast for victim advocates, law enforcement officials, mental health professionals, and emergency responders. OVC sponsored the broadcast with the Victims' Assistance Legal Organization and Eastern Kentucky University.

A formal evaluation of NVAA was completed in 2003 that assessed the academy model and its impact on students, institutions of higher learning, and the victim services field. Although findings were positive, evaluators recommended updating and developing a standardized curriculum. As restructuring the NVAA is a major undertaking, OVC conducted planning meetings, including a national symposium, to gather input and suggestions from the field. Strategies emerged for restructuring the NVAA while ensuring it remains a viable, highly visible training platform for the victim services field.

The enhanced Academy model will:

  • Provide access to (1) general, foundation-level training, (2) skill-based, specialized training, and (3) management-level training to meet the needs of victim service providers at all levels.
  • Promote lifelong learning and respond to victim service providers' need for professionalization of the field.

OVC hopes to complete the new NVAA foundation level training course in 2006. For a copy of the current instructor's manual, textbooks, video clips, and other information, visit National Victim Assistance Academy.

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. OVC launched the SVAA initiative in 1999 with grants to five states, and the list of new SVAA sites has been growing ever since. 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. OVC's Training and Technical Assistance Center provides technical assistance to the SVAAs and coordinates quarterly SVAA conference calls and annual SVAA grantee meetings. For more information, visit the SVAA page.

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.

In partnership with the National Center for Victims of Crime, Safe Horizon, and SafePlace, Cicatelli Associates, 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 is being conducted 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. A comprehensive evaluation will assess the Web course's usability, relevance, and impact. The final version of the course will be pilot tested, marketed, and disseminated to providers.

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 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 (NCPC) for development of youth-led public awareness campaigns on teen victimization. During the first year of the project, called Youth Outreach for Victim Assistance (YOVA), NCPC and its partner, the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), competitively selected 20 sites to develop public awareness campaigns on issues concerning youth victimization. The YOVA sites' campaigns included a variety of projects and activities, including school and community workshops, radio and television public service announcements, poster campaigns, and Web sites. With continuation funding, NCPC and NCVC have selected 20 new sites and 10 returning mentor sites to continue raising teens' awareness of victimization issues. Youth organizations, especially those in school settings, can play a central role in educating adolescents about the dynamics of victimization and in providing accurate guidance on where to turn for help and support.

The Clery Act Regional Training Project

In April 2005, OVC granted an 18-month cooperative agreement to Security on Campus, Inc. (SOC) to develop and implement a training curriculum based on the Jeanne Clery Act. Formally named the "Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act" by Congress in 1998, the Clery Act requires more than 6,000 institutions of postsecondary education to—

  • Collect crime statistics for their campuses and related non-campus areas.
  • Disclose specific campus security policies.
  • Issue timely warnings.
  • Maintain a public crime log if the institution maintains a campus security or police department.
  • Afford sexual assault victims certain basic rights.
  • Impose civil penalties for violations of reporting or victims' rights requirements.

The purpose of this project is to create a national "Clery Act Regional Training Project" to better educate officials at institutions of higher education about their responsibilities for campus crime reporting and victims' rights under the Act. SOC has secured a curriculum design team of nationally recognized experts, who will design a comprehensive modular training curriculum to train college and university policymakers, administrators, and security personnel about the requirements of the Clery Act at nine regional training sessions. The training materials will be based on the "The Handbook for Campus Crime Reporting, which SOC helped develop. Materials for the modular curriculum will include a train-the-trainer manual, trainer's manual, participant materials, and evaluation materials. SOC will also develop a dissemination and replication strategy to facilitate continued training beyond this cooperative agreement.

SOC will also work with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education to develop the Cleary Act Regional Training curriculum.

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

To advance the treatment of victims of 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). SANEs and SARTs have made a profound difference in the quality of care provided for sexual assault victims. This OVC-funded initiative developed an advanced training curriculum for sexual assault advocates and counselors to increase their understanding of sexual assault and treatment efficacy. The training, which has been delivered in 18 jurisdictions throughout the country, is available through OVC's 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 SANEs), physicians, law enforcement officers, and mental health practitioners who assist sexual assault victims may also benefit. Focusing on crisis intervention rather than long-term counseling, the training deepens participants' 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 featuring 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 was held in June 2005. Visit SANE-SART.com.

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 for law enforcement and other first responders. 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.

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. Through a series of interviews with victims, victim advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, sexual assault nurse examiners, and crime laboratory personnel, the video will highlight a range of issues related to DNA evidence that are critical for victims, including the collection and preservation of evidence, the impact of the process on victims, victim notification at points along the process, and victim involvement and 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 also supports extensive marketing and dissemination activities, including conference promotion and cross linking with national Web sites. View the resource guide.

Strategic Planning Project

OVC has several projects completed or underway to help victim services professionals develop and implement strategic plans.

Strategic Planning Toolkit

OVC has created the Strategic Planning Toolkit, which will benefit any state or local victim service organization that wants to assess its future direction and develop and implement strategic plans to reach its goals. The Toolkit offers guidelines, tools, and resources at every step. Access the Toolkit.

Other Planning Tools and Support

In Fiscal Year 2002, NACVCB began developing administrative tools for OVC to help state and territory VOCA administrators manage VOCA formula grants. This project will support development of a subgrantee monitoring toolkit; create new data elements and outcome measures for subgrant award and performance reporting; provide orientation training manuals for new state VOCA compensation and assistance administrators; and update the mass casualty protocol for victim compensation programs.

OVC is also conducting a corresponding Strategic Planning Initiative. The Initiative's vision is to build capacity among victim service providers and allied professionals that will result in more collaborative, effective, victim-driven and victim-centered rights and services. Trainings would provide states and victim service organizations with tools that build capacity through strategic planning; link and align funding resources to program implementation and performance measures; and conduct effective program evaluation for continued funding and growth. The Initiative included a training of trainers in May 2003 that immersed participants in the Toolkit protocol and how to apply it to statewide strategic planning for victim services.

While the Toolkit was in development, planning began for using it to provide training and technical assistance to six states as part of a process of developing a statewide strategic plan for victim services. This effort was coordinated closely between OVC and the Executive Director of the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (NAVAA). Applications were approved by NAVAA and OVC from the states of California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington. Six trainers from the May training event were selected to guide each state's 10-month planning process. OVC is currently reviewing the summary report detailing the planning process these six states underwent in 2003–2004.

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. 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, despite 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 has conducted a number of pilot tests, targeting health care professionals in geriatrics, family practice, emergency medicine, surgery, and general internal medicine. The curriculum is currently being reviewed by OVC.

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 included Internet fraud, identity theft, and elder fraud. In previous years, topics 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 (UHCNI) is a 4-year grant initiative, begun in 2002, by the Office for Victims of Crime. UHCNI grants support selected agencies throughout the country to build the capacity of local victim service providers to meet the needs of victims in urban high-crime neighborhoods. Six of the original seven sites were refunded for Year 2. In November 2003, OVC convened a cluster meeting of the six grantees in Chicago, Illinois, to provide support and training and build team consensus and interaction. A second meeting in October 2004 brought grantees together to discuss site reports and review the Denver VS2000 case management system, grantee direct victim services, public awareness, resource development plans, program evaluation, and program sustainability.

Human Trafficking Grantees Learning Community

In 2000, Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, authorizing the provision of benefits and services now available to victims of trafficking. Under this legislation, OVC received government funds to support the development or enhancement of victim service programs for alien victims trafficked into or within the United States who require emergency services. OVC services are intended to assist victims between the period of time they are encountered by law enforcement and their certification to receive other benefits through the Department of Health and Human Services.

In Fiscal Year 2003, OVC awarded funding to 11 nongovernmental organizations to provide comprehensive or specialized services to trafficking victims and grantee training and technical assistance for program support and enhancement. In July 2004 and in January 2005, OVC funded several more comprehensive trafficking victim service programs. As of September 2005, 18 programs located throughout the United States provide comprehensive services to victims of human trafficking.

In January 2005, OVC launched the Human Trafficking Grantees Learning Community Web site for agency Trafficking Service Program grantees, grant monitors, and technical assistance providers. This password-protected site is the first of its kind for the field of organizations serving victims of human trafficking. Through the Human Trafficking Grantees Learning Community, grantees can access tools developed by OVC, including data collection forms; the Trafficking Information Management System; and technical assistance guides on needs assessment, evaluation, and other topics. Community members can also share their own resources such as outreach or training materials, engage in online discussions, and navigate the Web to other sites in the trafficking field.

State Crime Victim/Survivor 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. Victims also often do not have the resources to attend conferences. To alleviate this problem, OVC has established the State Crime Victim/Survivor Scholarship Program, offering funding (on a reimbursement basis) to eligible organizations to provide scholarships for victims to attend statewide conferences on victims' issues. The scholarships cover expenses such as travel, lodging, conference fees, and other costs associated with attending these statewide conferences. For more information, visit the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center Web site.

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.


By supporting these learning and skills-building training 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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