April 2, 2014 - 11:30am
State to join nation in marking week of April 6 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that approximately $30 million in grant funding is available to benefit programs across New York State that provide direct services, including counseling and crisis intervention, advocacy and legal assistance to crime victims.
“Crime victims deserve more than our compassion – they deserve action,” Governor Cuomo said. “I’m proud New York was one of the first states in the country to provide compensation to crime victims. These funds will allow community-based organizations across the state to offer New Yorkers the immediate and long-term assistance they need to fully recover.”
ATTN TV STATIONS: To schedule satellite interviews between 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. today (April 2) with Elizabeth Cronin, Director of NYS Office of Victim Services, please contact Janine Kava firstname.lastname@example.org or 518 457-8828.
Crime victims’ assistance programs can apply for the approximately $30 million through a competitive request for proposals that has been issued by the state’s Office of Victim Services (OVS), the agency that oversees crime victims’ compensation. Eighty percent of the funding for those grants comes from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim and Witness Assistance Grant Program, with the remainder from the state. No federal or state taxpayer dollars are used to fund the grants; funding comes from fines, fees and surcharges that are paid by certain offenders convicted in state or federal court.
OVS Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “As a former prosecutor, I had a front row seat to the challenges crime victims faced. In addition to physical injuries, there can be a significant emotional toll. It is critical to have a strong network of programs across the state that can provide a wide range of assistance and support, everything from emergency services such as temporary housing, hotlines and counseling to having someone guide them through the criminal justice system. This type of assistance can provide hope and make the journey through the system easier for victims to negotiate.”
At the same time, Governor Cuomo has issued a proclamation marking the week of April 6th as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in New York State. Marked nationally and in New York State since 1981, the week is designed to call attention to the life-changing impact that crime has on its victims and their families, to highlight the services that are available to assist crime victims and to reinforce the message that victims’ voices need to be heard throughout the criminal justice process. This year’s theme commemorates the 30th anniversary of VOCA: “30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice.”
To view Crime Victims’ Rights Week Proclamation, visit http://www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/crimevictims.pdf
OVS currently funds 186 community-based victim assistance programs. Those programs, as well as any other agencies in the state that serve crime victims, are eligible to apply for this funding. Last year, those funded programs served nearly 256,000 people statewide.
The deadline for RFP applications is Monday, May 12; grant awards will be announced in early summer. Programs that receive funding will enter into three-year contracts with OVS, with the option for one, two-year extension. The approximately $30 million available will fund programs for the first year of those contracts; it is expected the same amount of federal and state funding will be available annually for the duration of those contracts.
In addition to funding victims’ assistance programs, OVS provides financial compensation to innocent victims of crime and their families. Last year, the agency provided more than $22.7 million in compensation, including payment of medical and dental bills, funeral and moving expenses and compensation for lost wages and support.
The agency paid a total of 9,480 claims in 2013. That number represents both claims awarded and paid for the first time in 2013, as well as claims awarded in prior years – to cover ongoing medical bills, for example – that continued to be paid last year.
A complete list of the currently funded programs, searchable by county, can be found here.
OVS is a payer of last resort: all other sources of assistance, such as medical or automobile 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. Funding for crime victims’ compensation and the cost of the agency’s day-to-day operations also 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.
For more information about services offered by OVS, including eligibility guidelines and a list of crime victims’ assistance programs that currently receive funding, or call 1-800-247-8035.