The Need for Collaboration
VS 2000 Program Structure and Goals
From 1998 to 2004, the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, provided the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services with funds for implementing the Victim Services 2000 (VS 2000) demonstration project in a rural area. The project's goal was to create a model network of victim resources that would provide innovative, comprehensive, and integrated services in a victim-centered environment. Representatives from victim service agencies across the state participated in the initiative, including community nonprofit and criminal justice-based programs and allied professionals.
A specific component of the program asked victims and survivors of crime victims to reflect on their experiences with victim assistance providers, including faith communities. From these interviews, program managers created a composite profile to illustrate the typical experience of victims who sought assistance from faith communities.
Wide-Range Needs Assessment
Overall, the VS 2000 initiative began with a needs assessment to—
- Better understand the range and accessibility of victim services in Vermont.
- Identify victim needs.
- Highlight gaps in services and identify underserved populations of crime victims.
- Develop a preliminary plan for establishing the model network.
Assessment tools included interviews and focus groups held throughout the state; surveys of victim advocates and service providers, survivors of crime, social service providers, law enforcement officials, and court and corrections personnel; reviews of documents and reports from victim assistance programs; and an analysis of the current victim services network. An independent firm also conducted a public awareness survey, interviewing 605 randomly selected Vermont residents to assess their general knowledge of crime victims' rights.
Victim/Survivor of Crime Council
Victims and survivors of victims were involved in all aspects of the project's assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation processes. VS 2000 established a statewide Victim/Survivor of Crime Council to enable victims to participate in program and policy planning and evaluation, offer feedback based on their personal experiences with the criminal justice system, suggest improvements, and form a pool of speakers for victim impact panels and other presentations.
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