Four Ways to Support Victim Services Organizations in April
- April 1, 2019
Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM), a month when we acknowledge sexual assault victims and work to prevent future incidents from occurring. Though we’re making great societal strides in holding assailants accountable for their actions, a sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds in America. There is still work to be done, and honoring SAAPM is a great place to start.
This year is the 18th consecutive observance of SAAPM, and bears the theme, Awareness to Action. Each week of SAAPM focuses on a different aspect of sexual assault prevention and awareness. According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), Week 1 highlights the importance of speaking out to demonstrate the prevalence of sexual assault. During Week 2, participants are encouraged to share information on supporting sexual assault survivors. Week 3 focuses on education, both of laws against sexual assault and means of prevention. The 4th week mirrors the theme of Awareness to Action, encouraging people to share on social media, volunteer on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, and fundraise for organizations who support victims of sexual assault. During the 5th and final week of the month, we are reminded to continue the conversation all year long.
You can find a guide to SAAPM, including action items, descriptions of each week’s focus, and graphics to share on social media, on RAINN’s website.
Before we get to the 4 Ways to Support Local Victim Services Org’s, there’s some background that might be helpful. If you want to jump right to the 4 Ways, scroll down now.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
During Week 2 of SAAPM, as we share information around sexual assault and prevention, we’ll also be honoring National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (or NCVRW) began in 1981 under President Reagan (three years before the Reagan Administration signed the Victims of Crime Act, or VOCA, into law). Similar to SAAPM, NCVRW seeks to increase awareness and educate. It is sponsored by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), which has deemed the 2019 theme, Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future. This sentiment “celebrates the progress made by those before us as we look to a future of crime victim services that is even more inclusive, accessible, and trauma-informed.”
Whether a victim has experienced assault, theft, abuse, or any other kind of crime, it can lead to feeling disempowered and disenfranchised. By observing NCVRW, we remind ourselves that, while the incidence of a crime was out of our control, there are other things we can do to return to a sense of security and contribute to bringing perpetrators to justice.
Victim support services in particular do incredible work to serve people after they’ve experienced a crime. Victim assistance services include crisis hotlines, support groups, or crime-specific counselors. Other victims services agencies may assist with filing a police report, refer victims to the proper law enforcement agencies, or even accompany a victim to court.
One CiviCore client, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, is a model example of an effective victim services organization. The Garfield County Victim Response Team works 24/7/365 to ensure that the citizens in their jurisdiction are supported after the incidence of a crime. They work in tandem with the sheriff’s office, providing on- and off-scene support by taking victim impact statements, dispensing legal advice, offering information regarding victim compensation, and referring victims to resources and other agencies who might be of value.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week shines a light on organizations such as the Garfield County Victim Response Team and gives us an opportunity to educate the public that being a victim does not equate to helplessness.
Another amazing CiviCore Victim Services client, the Rose Andom Center, is doing groundbreaking work in the field. While the Garfield County Victim Response team serves victims of many kinds of crimes, the Rose Andom Center specializes in serving people who have experienced domestic violence. In addition, their innovative model as a Family Justice Center ensures that victims are able to find the help they need quickly, and all under one roof. Rose Andom Center offers more than 20 community partner agencies and government and law enforcement partners co-located for easy identification and access. This facilitates quicker time-to-service, cross-referencing among agencies, and faster response times for victims, putting the victim at the heart of the services offered.
Victims services agencies typically operate independently of one another and of law enforcement agencies. After visiting one agency, such as a family services agency, a victim may need other services, such as one that provides legal consultation. Victims are statistically more likely to live in low-income areas where transportation can be a limiting factor, lowering the likelihood that a victim may get all the victims services he/she needs.
As mentioned above, the Rose Andom Center has deployed an innovative model in which several agencies and service providers are all under one roof. As a Family Justice Center, Rose Andom can help clients receive all the care they need without the hassle of traveling to multiple locations or researching agencies that could help them. Law enforcement agencies are down the hall from family service organizations, allowing one provider to refer a client to another simply by suggesting they walk next door.
To honor organizations like the Rose Andom Center, the Office for Victims of Crime holds a National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony each year during NCVRW. The ceremony, which will be held on April 12, honors both individuals and organizations who have demonstrated outstanding service in the field of victim services.
However, the OVC wants to ensure that NCVRW isn’t confined to Washington. Each year, the office makes funding available for local communities to organize, host, and publicize NCVRW events. The funding, known as Community Awareness Projects grants, is awarded through the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators, and offers financial assistance up to a designated amount each year (in 2019, projects have been funded up to $6,000). While the 2019 application period is now closed, you can start planning for a NCVRW event in 2020. Visit the CAP website to sign up for notifications of when next year’s application process begins.
How CiviCore Serves Victim Services Organizations
To best serve their clients, organizations offering victim support services have specific needs around management of client information and confidentiality. CiviCore provides software that can be transformational in day-to-day operations and data management.
The Garfield County Victim Response Team used to manage data in spreadsheets, which necessitated manually entering information and was less than ideal in terms of security. When they switched to CiviCore Victim Services software, the team saw a significant change in operations; time that was previously spent managing data could now be dedicated to serving clients. With the old model, overtime wages, which were significant and necessary in order to enter the data by hand, were cut in half. Plus, by using CiviCore Victim Services software to streamline data, Garfield County expedited the grant application process (and required fewer grants due to funds saved by efficiency).
The Rose Andom Center saw a similar overhaul in operations. They too had kept information organized in spreadsheets. Due to the nature of the crimes their clients had experienced, confidentiality was a primary concern. Their switch to CiviCore Victim Services afforded them much more security in knowing their data could only be viewed by those granted the proper permissions in the system.
In addition to day-to-day operations, the Rose Andom Center saw an increase in efficiency when applying for grants using CiviCore software. CiviCore Victim Services software includes a one-click VOCA reporting tool. When administrators at the Rose Andom Center started utilizing this tool, they cut 30-40% of the time it had previously taken them to gather information for the quarterly reporting required by VOCA for grant recipients.
4 Ways to Support Local Victim Services Organizations
Supporting local victim services organizations is a great way to invest in the safety and wellness of your community. Instead of (or in addition to) giving monetary donations, here are four ways you might want to contribute to victim services nonprofits.
Nearly all nonprofits appreciate volunteers, and victim services organizations that apply for VOCA grant funding are required to use volunteers. Look at websites that list volunteer opportunities such as VolunteerMatch.org. If you’re interested in working for a specific victim services org and find they aren’t listed, try contacting them directly. They may need help but haven’t had time to post a listing on a website.
2) Offer Work Pro Bono
If you have a specific skill set, like graphic design or legal expertise, for example, reach out to victim services organizations in your area and ask if they have a graphic designer or attorney in-house. They’ll likely be thrilled by the offer, and chances are will need help with work for their website, branding, and events, or for routine legal matters.
3) Be a Champion of the Cause
Become a marketing channel for a victim services nonprofit. Express to the organization that you admire the work they do and want to help them increase awareness. This is an especially great option for people with a large social media following. You can post about the organization on your channels, including links to their website and information about upcoming events. The nonprofit may even be willing to share images with you to use. If you want to take your well-heeled social presence a step further, create a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign (many nonprofits have this capability built in to their website) to raise funds for your local victim services organization.
4) Work a Crisis Hotline
Crisis hotlines help thousands of people every year suffering from violence, natural disaster, abuse, or any other form of victimization. The Office for Victims of Crimes provides a comprehensive list of crisis hotlines on their website. Do a little digging to see if any of them need volunteers to staff the phones. You could be the person who changes someone’s life just by answering a phone call.
If you work with a victim services organization and need help with data management or grant applications, contact us. We offer Client & Case Management software specifically for human services and victim services organizations as well as grant tracking software to help mission-driven organizations manage funding sources.
Supporting victim assistance services is just one of the ways CiviCore helps you help others. For more information, contact CiviCore via our website, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.