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Office for Victims of Crime Office for Victims of Crime 2015 OVC Report to the Nation: Fiscal Years 2013-2014 'Transforming Today's Vision into Tomorrow's Reality'

OVC Training and Technical Assistance

OVC Training and Technical AssistanceOVC maintained its commitment to building the capacity of victim service organizations and victim advocates through training and technical assistance. The OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC) provides a range of training and technical assistance that support professional development of victim advocates, enhance services to the victim services field, and reach underserved victims of crime. OVC TTAC offers training and technical assistance in a variety of settings and, in FYs 2013 and 2014, focused particularly on increasing courses and trainings available online:

Victim Assistance Training Online

In FY 2014, OVC TTAC launched Victim Assistance Training (VAT) Online, a foundational, Web-based victim assistance training program that provides victim service providers and allied professionals with fundamental skills and knowledge—as well as tools, services, and best practices—to enhance their ability to effectively meet the needs of victims. VAT Online contains four sections:

  1. Basics: Foundational information for a wide spectrum of victim service stakeholders, including those working in victims’ rights and the justice system.
  2. Core Competencies and Skills: Modules that focus on communication skills, confidentiality, and advocacy.
  3. Crimes: Training on characteristics, prevalence, and specific crimes, including sexual assault in the military and elder abuse.
  4. Special Populations: Training to serve victim populations such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities; campus/university victims; elder crime victims; victims with substance abuse issues; victims with disabilities; American Indian/Alaska Native victims; and victims with mental health issues.

This free training, available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, engages participants through a variety of multimedia content, including videos and real-life scenarios. The first 19 modules were launched in FY 2014, and modules are scheduled for release in 2015 that address hate and bias crimes, assault, human trafficking, intimate partner violence, cybercrime, and identity theft. During the first year following the launch of VAT Online, there were 5,327 participants.

Training by Request—Puerto Rico

OVC TTAC—in collaboration with the DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, PASOS de las Mujeres, the Puerto Rico Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (Paz Para La Mujer), and Fort Buchanan Army installation—hosted an interactive training-by-request for the curriculum, Strengthening Military-Civilian Community Partnerships to Respond to Sexual Assault. The program brought together 25 civilian victim advocates—including staff at rape crisis centers, community hospitals, Veteran’s Affairs centers, local law enforcement, and military advocates—to build effective partnerships with local military installations to enhance and extend the system of support for sexual assault victims in the military.

National Victim Assistance Academy Redesign

OVC TTAC’s National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) synthesizes cutting-edge developments in skills, knowledge, and theory to offer a multidisciplinary educational experience to the victim services field. Teams of nationally recognized scholars, researchers, and practitioners with in-depth practical experience teach each course. In FY 2014, OVC TTAC redesigned NVAA’s classroom delivery method to transform the Academy into a blended-learning training that combines both self-paced and facilitated Web-based training. This interactive program is offered free of charge, and recorded sessions enable participants to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. The inaugural online Leadership Institute, the hallmark of the transformed NVAA, provides comprehensive leadership training for victim service administrators and other leaders. The first offering in April 2014 hosted 62 participants, who learned theoretical concepts and practical skills to lead their organization, team, or workgroup more effectively. Of the 62 participants, 30 received continuing education units (CEUs). The Leadership Institute was also offered in the fall of 2014 to 102 participants, 23 of whom received CEUs.

This training has encouraged me to think differently, more holistically … like a leader! It's challenged me and opened my eyes to things I didn't even realize I had neglected. I've become more mindful of my employees and their needs and also my reaction to others. I've learned about conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, so many great things to help me become a better professional! – Participant, Spring 2014 NVAA Leadership Institute

Legal Assistance for Crime Victims Webinar Series

OVC TTAC’s Legal Assistance for Crime Victims initiative provides TTA to attorneys in an effort to expand the availability of pro bono legal assistance for victims of crime. Through a partnership with the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI), the initiative’s extensive Webinar series covers a wide range of topics intended to increase attorneys’ knowledge about crime victims’ issues and their capacity to provide no-cost legal representation to crime victims. In FY 2014, the initiative collaborated with the Victims Rights Law Center to provide a widely viewed two-part Webinar series on Title IX and campus sexual assault, which was intended for state and local sexual assault coalitions and programs throughout the country.

Curriculum for Legal Service Providers on Elder Abuse

OVC TTAC offered free, interactive, online elder abuse training for legal service providers, which included strategies for identifying and addressing the needs of individuals who may be experiencing elder abuse. In addition to providing a broad overview of elder abuse and its indicators, the course focused on practical and ethical approaches, domestic violence and sexual assault, and financial exploitation of elders. Intended for legal aid providers and other civil attorneys, the training incorporated an array of tools and resources, including interactive client scenarios and printable materials. During FY 2014, a total of 628 individuals participated in the training.

State Victim Assistance Academies

In FYs 2013 and 2014, OVC continued to expand its State Victim Assistance Academies (SVAA) program. First introduced in 1988, SVAAs provide fundamental, extensive, and academically based education and training for victim assistance providers, victim advocates, criminal justice personnel, and allied professionals who support crime victims. To meet the educational and training needs of victim service providers and allied professionals throughout the Nation, OVC TTAC offers technical assistance to prospective and established SVAAs in designing, developing, and delivering high-quality SVAA training. By the end of FY 2014, OVC had funded SVAAs in 45 states. TTAC’s password-protected SVAA online learning community enables grantees to access OVC resources, upload materials to share, and engage providers at other SVAAs.

Building Resiliency in Child Abuse Organizations

To build the capacity of organizations that help abused children, it is essential that service providers develop the ability to cope with the difficult situations they often encounter in helping this particularly vulnerable victim population. Providers must build mental strength, emotional fortitude, and resiliency to avoid secondary traumatic stress or burnout. OVC TTAC’s blended training, Building Resiliency in Child Abuse Organizations, incorporates a variety of methods—including Webinars, independent study, videos, and a 1-day, in-person session—to introduce strategies for establishing resiliency within these organizations through policies, supervisory techniques, and training. In FY 2014, these materials were downloaded 901 times.

Secondary Education: Integrating Crime Victims’ Issues

In FY 2014, OVC TTAC released Integrating Crime Victims' Issues Into College and University Curricula. This series of multidisciplinary educational materials is designed to broaden college and university students’ awareness of criminal victimization’s impact on victims and teach them about helpful responses to victims of crime. With funding from OVC, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell—along with its partners from the Universities of Massachusetts-Boston, Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and Massachusetts Medical School—developed these educational models for victim service providers and allied professionals, with the goal of further integrating victims’ issues into the Nation’s educational system.

This free online resource, which follows the release of resources from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, consists of curriculum kits and teaching materials. The tools include class exercises and sample assignments, a faculty involvement guide with steps to create a supportive learning environment and respond to student experiences with victimization, and templates for internship agreements to increase undergraduate and graduate student placements in victim services. All materials are fully customizable and designed for adaptation across multiple academic disciplines.

To coincide with the release of the materials, OVC TTAC sent e-blasts about the curricula to 161 OVC consultants affiliated with universities and 3,102 OVC TTAC listserv members. Through the end of FY 2014, the materials were downloaded more than 2,700 times.