VI.Networking for Effective Service Delivery

In general, victim/witness coordinators are severely burdened with growing caseloads, a lack of program or administrative staff, and numerous job-related duties. Such constraints leave victim/witness coordinators little time to establish programs and services to meet the growing needs of fraud victims. Cases involving fraud make victim/witness coordinators' jobs even more difficult, especially when those cases involve thousands of victims.

Victim/witness coordinators can employ several effective strategies to enhance their services to fraud victims. Coordinators can network with members of the community and allied professionals to learn of appropriate referrals, and they can establish local or regional task forces to address voids in victim assistance programs and services. This section provides effective strategies to do both.

A.Benefits of Networking

Networking allows victim service providers and, in particular, victim/witness coordinators to take advantage of opportunities to meet and work with a variety of professional and community colleagues, significantly enhancing their ability to do the following:

B.Establishing Networking Connections

There are numerous ways to hook into established networks. Suggested avenues include these:

Networking provides victim/witness coordinators with other opportunities as well:

C.Using Network Connections to Enhance Services to Fraud Victims

If networking efforts are successful, victim/witness coordinators will have created valuable new contacts to draw upon to enhance program services to victims of fraud. Examples of using network contacts to enhance fraud victim services include these:

D.Establishing a Fraud Victim Task Force

Without a coordinated community approach to serving the informational, emotional, and financial needs of fraud victims, a fragmented approach to service delivery is likely to occur. This is unfortunate because fragmented approaches often allow for the duplication of some services, while allowing other victim-related service needs to go unmet. The establishment of community or regional fraud task forces is one way to achieve comprehensive victim-related services and reduce the chances of a fragmented service approach.

Task forces can be developed by bringing together representatives of interested groups in area-wide meetings to explore new ways to work for fraud victims. An added benefit is that the entire workload does not fall on any one person.

1.Task Force Goals

Overall goals can vary from group to group. However, meeting the needs of fraud victims should be one of the primary goals. Task force goals relating to victim service needs should be fourfold:

2.Task Force Membership

A fraud victim task force should include a mix of governmental and community-based professionals and officials, community leaders, members of the public, and victim representatives so that a variety of expertise and experience can be drawn upon. Members might include the following:

3.Task Force Organizational Structure

Some task forces serve as one body to address all issues surrounding the primary subject area. Others create subcommittees to look at particular issues or concerns in depth and then report back to the full task force with findings or a plan of action. Task force structuring that allows for subcommittees lets members select issues related to their area of expertise or interest and make substantial contributions quickly.

Specific subcommittees for a fraud task force might include the following:

4.Additional Task Force Benefits

Task forces can also help raise public awareness about the overall issue of fraud and, in particular, its devastating financial and emotional impact on victims. Task forces can do so by releasing their findings and recommendations to local, state, and regional media, such as newspapers and television news programs. Task force findings should also be distributed to at least the following:

  • Local, state, and regional elected officials
  • Professional associations
  • State bar associations
  • Medical, insurance, real estate, contracting, investment, and other local and state licensing boards
  • Credit reporting agencies
  • Allied criminal justice professionals
  • Governmental agencies with mandates to serve specific populations, such as the elderly or disabled
  • Nonprofits and other community-based programs that provide direct services to crime victims

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