Starting Victim Services
Design the Program
- Develop an action plan based on the results of the needs assessment. Identify specific strategies the program will use to address gaps in victim services. Be realistic about the limitations of the law enforcement agency when planning strategies. Develop a timeline and identify tasks for implementing each strategy, persons who ideally will be responsible for completing each task, and which resources will be needed. Be clear about whether the strategy will focus on all crime victims or specific populations of victims.
- Identify factors that could facilitate or impede successful implementation of program strategies and sustainability over time. Consider how to build on positive elements and overcome challenges.
- Consider how each program component will be sustained. Sustaining an effort depends on more than obtaining funding. It is also essential to create an infrastructure of policies, methods to facilitate policy compliance, and community education to support success and continuance, plus materials and training.
- Incorporate mechanisms that allow victims to comment on their satisfaction with the services they received and for law enforcement officers and community partners to comment on the program's strengths and challenges. There should be a way to enhance the project based on this feedback. Plan multiple evaluation methods as it is often difficult to get feedback from crime victims.
- Develop a written implementation plan and disseminate it to law enforcement personnel, criminal justice personnel, and community service providersthose with whom you want to implement tasks, support and fund the initiative, coordinate provision of services, or assist in reaching out to victims. Invite their input on the plan and assess their capacity to collaborate with the program. Demonstrate to them that the program wants to be their partner, not their competitor.
- Once criminal justice and community partners commit to the initiative, consider developing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with them. MOUs identify the agreed-upon responsibilities of each agency involved and are signed by agency leaders. MOUs can help actively engage agencies in working together to enhance local provision of victim services.