Program Startup, Relationship Building, and Sustainability
The VS 2000 staff recommend that victim service programs planning to partner with a faith community take specific steps related to program startup, relationship building, and sustainability efforts.
- Reassure faith leaders that they can use many of the resources they have already developed; they do not need to create a completely new program.
- Ask them about their vision for serving victims of crime in their congregations. Create a vision together; do not impose a vision onto the faith community.
- Learn about the demographics of the neighborhood, the history of the religious institution, the community groups involved, and the important players.
- Take plenty of time to lay the program foundation. Create an advisory committee to do strategic planning.
- Find out what kind of opposition may exist, and plan with the faith community how to deal with it.
- Find a skilled, neutral facilitator to lead the group through the strategic planning process.
- Find out which members of the congregation may already be providing some of these services and include those people in the strategic planning team.
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- Meet faith communities on their own ground, "break bread" with them, and find out how they already address the needs of their parishioners.
- Find common ground, and keep it foremost.
- Be open to faith leaders' ideas. Faith leaders may not be experts on victim assistance, but some of the best ideas come from people who approach a task without preconceived ideas of how it should be done.
- Remind faith leaders that victims of crime may be a hidden population in their congregations.
- Remember that many of the needs identified by victims of crime cannot be provided by victim service programs: the whole community is needed to serve victims comprehensively.
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- Remain engaged after the initial phase is over; offer ongoing consulting services to the faith community.
- Help the faith community seek funding to provide additional services. Provide technical assistance, and share resources.
- Encourage faith leaders to take ownership of the initiative by including their congregations in program planning and design and by keeping them informed.
- Ensure that faith communities receive the state victim services resource directory, and stay informed about the resources of the local congregations.
- Evaluate the project and use the findings to improve future efforts.
- Provide for ongoing sustainability and long-term input.
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