Governor Cuomo Announces First-Ever OVS Public Awareness Campaign

August 2, 2016 - 12:30pm

Office of Victim Services also marks 50 years of help, healing and hope for crime victims, families

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Office of Victim Services will launch its first-ever public service campaign to raise awareness about the assistance the agency – and the community-based programs it funds – provide to innocent crime victims and their families in their time of need. The agency previewed the public service announcements at an event in Albany this afternoon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its creation.

OVS 50th Anniversary

“For five decades, this agency has proudly served New Yorkers in their darkest hours and their greatest time of need,” Governor Cuomo said. “This administration remains committed to this office’s important work and these public service announcements will help spread the word about the critical services that are available whenever and wherever victims need them.”

The broadcast and digital advertising campaign – Help, Healing and Hope for Crime Victims – is scheduled to begin later this month in Central and Western New York, targeting the state’s largest population centers outside of New York City. Additional advertising is planned for later this year and early 2017 in other regions. The campaign PSAs feature survivors of crime and advocates describing the agency’s impact:

Governor Cuomo today issued a citation recognizing the agency’s 50-year milestone. The Office of Victim Services also debuted a new web page featuring the PSAs, testimonials, a timeline of the agency’s history and the services it provides. Also featured online is a short video that further explores the agency’s work through interviews with survivors and victim service professionals.

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “These stories, like the ones we encounter daily, are powerful and heart-wrenching. But in each instance, the crime victims took the assistance we provided and began the process of healing. Our hope is that this campaign informs and empowers other crime victims to seek out the assistance from OVS or one of the many service providers we fund.”

Ms. Cronin premiered the three, 30-second PSAs during a press conference today at the Hart Theatre Lounge at The Egg Center for the Performing Arts in Albany. She was joined by crime victims and advocates at the press conference, which preceded an event attended by about 150 victims, advocates and other professionals to mark the agency’s anniversary.

Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon, and Quentin Wolcott, Co-Executive Director of CONNECT, joined Ms. Cronin at today’s press conference. Both programs are part of the OVS-funded network of victim assistance programs; they serve crime victims in New York City.

Ariel Zwang said, “As the nation’s leading victim assistance organization, Safe Horizon is grateful to benefit from our partnership with the New York State Office of Victim Services across so many of our key program areas. From our groundbreaking work with child abuse victims in our nationally-recognized Child Advocacy Centers, to our compassionate services for campus sexual assault victims through our borough-based Community Programs, to our client-centered response to survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking in programs throughout the organization, support from OVS provides the critical infrastructure to Safe Horizon’s programs and services for victims of crime and abuse. We thank Governor Cuomo and Director Cronin for their steadfast partnership and ongoing commitment to ensure that victims of crime in every corner of the state receive the help and services they deserve.”

Quentin Walcott said, “CONNECT would like to congratulate OVS on 50 years. This partnership with OVS puts our legal advocates in a position to offer resources and services to survivors of violence living in a very diverse NYC, for many years now. OVS support helps us transition survivors of intimate partner violence out of crisis into safety. Thus these families struggling with abuse have just enough space to focus on empowerment and healing from the violence they have endured.”

About the Office of Victim Services

New York State created the agency in 1966, less than a year after a Good Samaritan was stabbed to death in front of his wife and young child aboard a New York City subway. Left with no viable means of income, the woman was forced to send her daughter to live with relatives overseas. The highly publicized case prompted then-Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller to propose the creation of the Crime Victim’s Compensation Board to assist innocent victims of crime. He signed the bill into law on Aug. 1, 1966.

At the time of its creation, the board was only the second of its kind in the nation and more comprehensive than an experimental program operating in California. Eventually known simply as the Crime Victims Board, the agency became the Office of Victim Services in 2010.

The agency 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 Office of Victim Services provides compensation to victims and their families, including but not limited to payment of medical, counseling and dental bills; funeral and burial expenses; lost wages and support; replacement of essential property damaged as a result of a crime; relocation expenses; and emergency shelter for domestic violence victims. New York is the only state with no cap on medical or counseling expenses, which means individuals can receive help as long as they need it.

In 2015 alone, crime victims and their families received nearly $20 million in assistance from the agency, which does its work at no cost to taxpayers. Compensation and agency operations are funded entirely by fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain offenders convicted in federal and state court.

In addition to providing crime victim compensation, OVS funds a network of 223 victim assistance programs providing direct services – such as counseling, crisis intervention, advocacy and legal assistance, among others – across New York State. These community-based providers currently receive more than $43.8 million to support their programs and services. Funding for nearly all of those grants also comes from fines, fees and surcharges paid by convicted offenders.

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