August 10, 2017 - 12:30pm
Nearly 100 crime victim advocates today completed a unique training that explores the psychological toll of trauma, with the goal of helping those professionals improve services for victims of crime and better understand the toll their work may have on their well-being.
Training explores trauma and its effect on victims and advocates who serve them, designed to improve services for victims, help professionals better care for themselves
Nearly 100 crime victim advocates today completed a unique training that explores the psychological toll of trauma, with the goal of helping those professionals improve services for victims of crime and better understand the toll their work may have on their well-being. Approximately 260 advocates have attended the victim assistance training since its creation last year through a partnership between the New York State Office of Victim Services and the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at the State University of New Paltz.
The two-day Victim Assistance Boot Camp, which concluded today at SUNY New Paltz, featured classroom instruction, role playing and a review of case studies, all designed to teach advocates the range of reactions they can expect from victims. It also focused on the risk factors that make some individuals more vulnerable than others, such as homelessness or addiction, as well as the strategies for assisting specific types of victims.
Another key component of the training is teaching advocates to understand the impact of working with crime victims by exploring burnout, vicarious traumatization and secondary traumatic stress. Advocates will learn to develop a stress management plan and learn strategies for practicing self-care to sustain their own well-being.
Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “There is no understating the psychological impact trauma has not only on victims of crime, but on those working with victims. Our goal with the boot camp is to help advocates and service providers recognize how trauma manifests in these individuals so they can better address their needs while also taking care of themselves. This training and others offered by the Office of Victim Services are providing advocates with the tools they need to more effectively help crime victims in their time of need.”
During the past year, the Office of Victim Services has expanded the training and technical assistance it provides to professionals who work for the 223 victim assistance programs it funds across the state so they can better serve victims of crime and their families. In addition to the Boot Camp, the agency has offered trainings on topics including strategic plan development, financial literacy to help programs better understand federal and state funding rules and requirements and implementation of program evaluations.
All told, slightly more than 500 professionals have attended the courses, made possible by a $1.4 million training grant funded by the federal Victims of Crime Act. The grant also will fund a three-day, statewide training and professional development conference slated for this fall in Albany.
In addition to administering more than $45.5 million in state and federal funding that supports those victim assistance programs, the Office of Victim Services provides direct compensation to victims of crime and their family members. Last year, the agency provided $22 million to assist crime victims and their families, representing claims paid for the first time in 2016 and those from prior years.
The Office of Victim Services compensates eligible individuals and family members for medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages and support, among other assistance. 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.
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 the Office of Victim Services to its network of victim assistance programs, which serve approximately 325,000 men, women and children annually.
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. 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.
For more information about services offered by OVS, including eligibility guidelines and a list of victim assistance programs that provide direct help to crime victims across all 62 counties in New York, visit www.ovs.ny.gov or call 1-800-247-8035.