News

$10 million available to enhance investigations of child abuse cases

April 3, 2017 - 11:00am

The New York State Office of Victim Services announced that $10 million in federal funding is available for state-approved Child Advocacy Centers to enhance services provided to children who are victims of crime.

Janine Kava | janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov
Justin Mason | justin.mason@dcjs.ny.gov
Press Office, Office of Victim Services | (518) 457-8828

Eligible centers can apply for funding to help offset the cost to purchase and install video recording equipment and hire specially trained staff to interview young victims of sexual and physical abuse.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issues proclamation marking April 2 – 8 as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

The New York State Office of Victim Services today announced that $10 million in federal funding is available for state-approved Child Advocacy Centers to enhance services provided to children who are victims of crime. Eligible centers can apply for funding to help offset the cost to purchase and install video recording equipment and hire specially trained staff to interview young victims of sexual and physical abuse.

Today’s announcement of the availability of the grants, which are funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act and administered by the Office of Victim Services, coincides with Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo also issued a proclamation marking National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in New York State. 

There are 36 service providers authorized by the state to operate Child Advocacy Centers across New York. Child Advocacy Centers allow multidisciplinary teams of law enforcement, child protective services professionals, prosecutors, medical and mental health providers, and victim advocates to partner with Center staff and respond to allegations of child abuse. This collaborative approach helps to reduce trauma experienced by child victims, assists their families, provides necessary support services and allows for thorough investigations to hold offenders accountable.

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin visited the McMahon-Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse this morning to announce the availability of the grants. The Request for Assistance details eligibility requirements and includes a list of agencies and Centers eligible for funding.

“Child abuse cases often involve a violation of trust that has left the young victim deeply traumatized. In these situations, it’s critical for investigators to take every possible precaution to avoid inflicting further trauma as they gather evidence,” Director Cronin said. “This funding will help child advocacy centers across the state by providing them with the resources they need to ensure these children are treated with the compassion and care they are entitled to receive in wake the abuse they suffered.”

Child Advocacy Centers are eligible to apply for up to $75,000 annually over two years to pay the salary and benefits of a specially trained forensic interviewer or hire an appropriate consultant to handle interviews. These skilled professionals are essential to creating an environment that provides children with a safe space to disclose abuse, reduce the number of times they must tell what happened and help children with their healing process. 

Centers can also apply for up to $50,000 to purchase and install equipment that will allow them to monitor, video record and archive interviews with victims. These capabilities will also enable multidisciplinary team members to communicate in real time while cases are being investigated.

Applications for funding are due Friday, May 12, with the grants scheduled to be awarded in early summer. The two-year grant funding cycle coincides with the federal fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2019. 

The Office of Victim Services worked with the state Office of Children and Family Services – which approves and also funds Child Advocacy Centers – to determine how the federal funding could best support the important work performed by these Centers. OVS also funds to 18 Child Advocacy Centers so they can provide direct services to children and families

OCFS Acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “New York State’s Child Advocacy Centers serve more than 19,000 child victims each year. While the need for them is a painful reality, the success of the programs is poignant. CACs put victims at ease, bring them comfort and let them know it’s not their fault. This funding opportunity will further enhance the remarkable work they do for child survivors.” 

The Office of Victim Services provides a safety net for individuals and/or their family members who have been victimized through no fault of their own and have no other means of assistance. The agency can compensate individuals for medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages and support, among other assistance.  It is a payer of last resort: all other sources of assistance, such as medical insurance and workers’ compensation, must be exhausted before the agency can pay a victim or their family members for any out-of-pocket losses related to the crime.

The agency (www.ovs.ny.gov) provided a total of $22 million to assist crime victims and their families in 2016, which represents claims paid for the first time last year or those from prior years. New York is the only state in the nation that has no cap on counseling or medical expenses, which means crime victims and family members can receive help as along as it is necessary. Last year, OVS provided compensation to 4,667 children who were the victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect or the subject of child pornography; the vast majority of which were for children who were abused sexually. This represented approximately one-third of all compensation claims paid by the agency in 2016.

OVS currently provides $45.5 million in funding to a network of 223 victim assistance programs that serve women, men and children in every county of the state. Funding for crime victims’ compensation and the cost of the agency’s day-to-day operations comes entirely from the fines, mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees that certain offenders must pay following conviction in New York State or federal courts. Those fines and fees also fund nearly all of the grants provided by OVS to its network of victim assistance programs.

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