Since its establishment OVS has provided substantial financial relief to victims of crime and their families by paying unreimbursed crime-related expenses, including but not limited to: medical and funeral expenses, loss of earnings or support, counseling costs, crime scene clean-up expenses, the cost to repair or replace items of essential personal property, reasonable court transportation expenses, assistance to crime victims acting as a good Samaritan, the cost of residing at or utilizing the services of a domestic violence shelter, and limited attorney fees.
Direct Services to Crime Victims
OVS’s Grants Unit is responsible for the administration of the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim and Witness Assistance funds which are awarded through a competitive process to organizations across the State serving crime victims. Starting in 1981, this agency began its financial support of community-based organizations by funding 23 programs. Currently, OVS administers and processes over 200 contracts with Victim Assistance Programs across the State serving all 62 counties. Additionally, this Unit coordinates with other criminal justice agencies in the State on victim and witness service initiatives and priorities and serves as a liaison for the agency with various crime victim coalitions, federal authorities, the public and other interested parties.
Medical Provider Forensic Rape Examination (FRE) Direct Reimbursement Program
New York State Law provides for direct reimbursement by the Office of Victim Services (OVS) to providers of sexual assault forensic health care examination services. This program provides for the personal privacy of sexual assault victims, while reimbursing providers when the victim does not have access to private health insurance or chooses not to use private health care insurance for the forensic examination.
Advocate for Innocent Victims Rights and Benefits
Over time the role and mission of OVS (formerly CVB) has expanded. In 1979, the Legislature required that this agency advocate for victims’ rights, needs and interests in New York State. This advocacy role has resulted in OVS’s formulation of legislation, subsequently enacted, which not only has protected and extended the rights of crime victims but also expanded the services and assistance available to them. OVS also facilitates communication and coordination with other federal, state, and local governmental agencies and victim advocacy organizations in an effort to further the rights and interests of crime victims.In addition, each of the OVS offices has an advocate, who is charged with assisting victims in completing claim applications and providing direct services to victims of crime and their families in the form of assistance in obtaining emergency awards, referrals to other agencies and services, and helping them through the criminal justice process.
Education and Outreach
Education and outreach work on issues of importance to victims and those that serve the victim community are important components of what OVS does each and every day. Staff at OVS provides training and outreach to agency staff, VAP advocates, service providers and law enforcement agencies to name just a few.