Starting Victim Services
- Determine the program's needs for contractual versus salaried personnel. How long will staff be needed and for what specific tasks? Consider getting victim services staff in place as early as possible to allow time for them to build relationships with law enforcement officers and local service providers, which is essential to successful program implementation. Think about how the agency will sustain permanent staff positions over time.
- Clarify how each position will be financed and supervised.
- Consider whether staff will be civilians or officers. Civilians can bring knowledge of community resources and experience working on victim issues, administering service programs, and building partnerships. However, those with little experience in victim or social services and few community connections may take significant time to gain support from officers, prosecution office and court personnel, and local service providers. If sworn officers are assigned to the program, consider their experience or level of interest in working with victims and related training they have received or may need.
- Develop job descriptions and applications for each position.
- Determine how to recruit qualified civilian staff, such as advertising through multiple outlets, conducting a regional search, and using local organizations to circulate job announcements and identify candidates.
- Advertise positions, screen candidates, and hire.
- Provide staff with sufficient training opportunities and supervision related to administering the program and delivering victim services. Also, encourage staff to network with local victim services and social services providers for support and guidance, attend related conferences at the state and national level, and learn about and model practices of successful victim services programs.
- If staff turnover occurs, reassess personnel needs and promptly seek new staff with the appropriate skills, interest, and experience.