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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. A sample of training topics is listed below. For a list of current training sessions, 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 for assisting 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 teaches victim service provider trainers 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. In July 2007, applications for the new National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) were made available online and in print. The redesigned Academy, which will be held December 9-14, 2007, in Baltimore, Maryland, focuses on three distinct tracks tailored to the level of each attendee's expertise:

  1. Foundation-level training provides a broad understanding of the victim services field and lays the groundwork on which to build a career.
  2. Specialized training focuses on specific, timely topics that have a direct impact on providers' work.
  3. A Leadership Institute helps participants develop the skills they need to move from a provider role into a managerial role.

The new Academy integrates the latest advances in skills, knowledge, and theory to offer an unparalleled educational experience. All courses are taught by teams of nationally recognized scholars, researchers, and practitioners with in-depth practical experience. Find out more about NVAA.

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 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 launched Victim Assistance Training Online (VAT Online ) in September 2007 at the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (NAVAA) Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. Since its launch, more than 300 people have registered for the online training and over 230 registered users are actively using the course.

VAT Online is a basic victim advocacy Web-based training program that offers victim services providers and allied professionals the opportunity to acquire the basic skills and knowledge they need to better assist victims of crime. Specific information is also provided to meet the needs of target populations.

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 pilot training sessions. The training materials will be based on the The Handbook for Campus Crime Reporting, produced by the U.S. Department of Education, which SOC helped develop. Materials for the modular curriculum 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 is working 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 Clery 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. In addition, a downloadable online version, the Sexual Assault Advocate/Counselor Training (SAACT) Curriculum, was produced and released in July 2007.

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

Since 2001, OVC has funded the biennial National Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Training Conference. National experts in the five SART disciplines present conference workshops and keynotes on a multidisciplinary, victim-centered approach to sexual assault for SART professionals, including sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) and other medical personnel, crime lab specialists, law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim advocates. Attendance has increased with each successive conference. Approximately 820 SART professionals attended the Fourth National SART Training Conference, held in Tampa, Florida, on May 30-June 1, 2007. Evaluations from past conferences indicated a need for highly specialized training. As a result, a new track, the Interactive Sexual Assault Scenario, was introduced in 2007. This track provides a unique training opportunity for SARTs to better understand the role of their team members by working together to solve the crime scenario. For more information, visit www.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: 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. In 2007, OVC released a training DVD titled DNA: Critical Issues for Those Who Work With Victims 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 DVD highlights 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. View a clip or order this DVD (NCJ 211970).

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 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 service 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 Support

In April 2005, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson issued an executive order that established the Victim Rights Alliance for the State of New Mexico. The alliance was created to foster collaboration among key state and local stakeholders who are involved in victims' rights issues and to improve rights and services for victims of crime. The primary consensus among alliance members was that a statewide strategic plan is needed to address gaps in services to victims, protection of victims' rights in the state, evaluation of services to victims, and creation of an interdisciplinary system of service delivery.

The alliance turned to OVC's Strategic Planning Toolkit and to OVC TTAC for assistance. Between March 27 and May 28, 2006, an OVC TTAC consultant met with members of the alliance as well as other victims and victim advocates throughout the state to explore the issues identified by the alliance. As a result of these meetings and feedback from the consultant, the alliance developed a set of goals, one of which is to bridge the gaps in services to victims in the state.

The Governor has since revised the executive order and requested a written report by October 1, 2007. The report is to identify gaps in services and make recommendations to the Governor on how to address these gaps. The alliance again turned to OVC for assistance. Between April 2 and June 30, 2007, OVC supported the same consultant to help the alliance develop and disseminate a needs assessment/gap analysis survey to more than 500 potential respondents. The results of this survey will help guide the further development of a strategic plan and will be presented in a report to the Governor, which will drive legislative and executive decisions for the state.

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

In 2003, OVC awarded a cooperative agreement to the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) to develop a curriculum on indicators of elder abuse for community corrections professionals. APPA, in conjunction with the American Bar Association's Commission on Law and Aging, and Justice Solutions, Inc., collaborated to develop Identifying and Responding to Elder Abuse: The Vital Role of Community Corrections Professionals. The curriculum was pilot tested in four geographically diverse regions of the country and revised to incorporate the participants' feedback. The curriculum underwent a peer review by experts in the field and was further refined and finalized. Training based on this finalized curriculum is being offered through the National Victim Assistance Academy in December 2007. In 2006, APPA also received a cooperative agreement to develop an online distance training course based on this curriculum. APPA anticipates that the distance training course will be offered through its Web site by summer 2008. Find out more about APPA's online training opportunities.

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. 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. The 2005 Economic Crime Summit was held in three different locations: Tampa, FL; Minneapolis, MN; and Phoenix, AZ. In preparation for these regional conferences and as a cosponsor, OVC developed a series of workshops and offered resource materials concerning the needs of identify theft victims. For more details, visit the conference Web site.

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 2007, OVC is funding 32 grants for providing comprehensive services to victims of human trafficking. Beginning in 2004, OVC joined with the Bureau of Justice Assistance to support an expanded strategy of funding anti-trafficking task forces. This task force strategy focuses on enhancing law enforcement's ability to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking; providing law enforcement with the resources and training needed to identify and rescue victims of trafficking; and ensuring that comprehensive services are available wherever trafficking victims are found. These nongovernmental organizations and task forces are located throughout the United States. See a list of OVC-funded trafficking projects.

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 funding to send victims to 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, which can reimburse eligible organizations for providing 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 conferences. For more information, visit the OVC TTAC 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 TTAC Web site.


By supporting these learning and skill-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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