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National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

April 16, 2021 - 11:45am

Sunday, April 18 through Saturday, April 24, 2021

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Sunday, April 18 through Saturday, April 24, 2021

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is marked annually by New York State to promote victims’ rights; honor and remember victims and survivors of crime and their families; and recognize the professionals who provide direct services to individuals whose lives have been impacted by crime.

The Office of Victim Services and the victim assistance programs it supports and funds across New York State have faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. This year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week theme – Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities. – encapsulates the work done by the agency, service providers and victim assistance professionals in the wake of so many unprecedented challenges during the past year.

OVS staff quickly pivoted to a remote work environment to ensure seamless processing of claims for assistance and to provide the same level of support to victim assistance programs, which also transitioned many in-person services to virtual so individuals and families would continue to receive critical services.

The agency helped programs transition to this new way of serving victims, survivors, and their families in a variety of ways, including by:

  • Increasing funding for 212 victim assistance programs by $18.3 million to help them manage unexpected expenses and revenue shortfalls due to COVID.
  • Providing $1.5 million in additional funding to state-licensed domestic violence service providers for mobile devices and improved Wi-Fi access, which will allow programs and shelters to better serve victims and survivors of domestic violence who are facing increased isolation and difficulty accessing services.
  • Waiving a requirement that victim assistance programs provide a 25 percent match to the grant funding they receive. Programs typically use charitable donations and volunteer hours, both of which have been dramatically impacted by the pandemic, to meet this requirement.
  • Launching VAP Connect, an interactive platform that allows professionals to share best practices and ideas, network with each other and stay apprised of key resources and announcements from OVS.
  • Coordinating 22 trainings virtually attended by more than 4,560 professionals since April 2020. The trainings focused on building professional skills and personal and organizational resilience and are available online for advocates, service providers and law enforcement professionals who work with victims and survivors of crime: ovs.ny.gov/training.

The agency currently administers approximately $130 million to 212 programs that provide direct support and services to victims and their families: advocacy, crisis and long-term counseling, legal services and emergency shelter, among other assistance.

Since 1966, OVS has provided a critical safety net for individuals and/or their family members, helping those who are eligible with medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and support, in addition to other assistance. New York is the only state in the country with no limit on reimbursement for medical bills or counseling, which means individuals receive help for as long as they need it.

Last year, the agency provided nearly $18 million in financial assistance, at no cost to taxpayers. Funding for crime victims’ compensation is generated by fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain offenders convicted in state or federal court.

A snapshot of OVS assistance by the numbers (2020):

  • The youngest and oldest person to receive assistance: 6 weeks old and 97 years old
  • Nearly $1.8 million for emergency assistance, helping victims and their families with costs incurred in the immediate aftermath of a crime
  • $3.2 million for funeral and burial costs
  • $2.1 million in reimbursement to hospitals for forensic rape exams to ensure that victims of sexual assault did not receive a bill for these critical services

Follow OVS on social media:

  • @NYSPublicSafety on Twitter

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