Federal and State Funding Will Support the Growth of 86 Victim Assistance Programs Across New York State
New York Joins the Nation in Recognizing National Crime Victims' Rights Week; Governor's Proclamation Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 86 state-funded victim assistance programs will receive approximately $20.4 million over three years to hire case managers who will streamline and improve services for crime victims and their families. The funding, which is administered by the New York State Office of Victim Services, will allow these programs to hire 110 case managers who will connect individuals with direct assistance to help them recover, including counseling, advocacy and civil legal help, among other services.
"New York is committed to providing crime victims the resources they need as they start on their road to recovery," Governor Cuomo said. "These grants will support the addition of new staff at victim assistance programs across the state, help the healing process for crime victims of all ages, and further our efforts to support a stronger, safer New York for all."
Funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act and state Criminal Justice Improvement Account, these grants allow victim assistance programs to hire or contract with professionals who can coordinate services for victims and/or their families. The programs provide direct services to help men, women and children, including counseling, crisis intervention and legal assistance. Case managers will provide individuals with a continuous point of contact, through which they can navigate and apply for assistance and obtain other resources.
All 223 victim assistance programs funded by the Office of Victim Services were eligible to apply for up to four case managers. The 86 programs that received grants met all the criteria in the request for assistance application. A total of 61 community-based organizations, hospitals and government agencies administer the 86 different victim assistance programs that have received grants. Case managers will be funded for three years with an option for a two-year renewal.
A list of grantees by region is available here.
Case managers will coordinate and collaborate with the Office of Victim Services' vocational rehabilitation unit, which helps crime victims who have long-term disabilities obtain assistance to improve their lives. In addition, case managers will help connect victims with legal assistance in civil matters, such as housing and immigration cases and Family Court cases involving custody, support and orders of protection.
OVS provides a safety net for crime victims and/or their family members who have been victimized through no fault of their own and have no other means of assistance. The agency compensates eligible individuals and family members for medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and support, and loss or damage of essential personal property, in addition to other assistance.
Governor Cuomo's announcement comes as New York joins the nation to mark National Crime Victims' Rights Week by highlighting the services that are available to assist crime victims and reinforce the message that the voice of victims need to be heard throughout the criminal justice process. The Governor proclaimed the week of April 8 - 14 National Crime Victims' Rights Week in New York State.
Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, "The theme of National Crime Victims' Rights Week is Expand the Circle - Reach all Victims. Victim assistance professionals across the state do amazing work every day, helping victims and their families in the wake of traumatic and painful experiences. But we want to help ensure that any victim who needs help receives it. Through these grants, programs will be better able to direct crime victims to the critical resources they need to become survivors."
New York is the only state in the nation that has no cap on counseling or medical expenses, which means crime victims and family members can receive help as along as it is necessary. OVS is a payer of last resort, meaning all other sources of assistance, such as medical or automobile insurance and workers' compensation, must be exhausted before the agency can pay a victim or their family members for any out-of-pocket losses related to the crime.
Last year, the agency provided roughly $21.3 million in compensation to crime victims and their families. The agency also provided approximately $45.5 million in funding to 223 victims' assistance programs that helped crime victims in all 62 counties throughout the state - all at no cost to taxpayers.
Funding for crime victims' compensation and the cost of the agency's day-to-day operations comes entirely from the fines, mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees that certain offenders must pay following conviction in state or federal courts. Those fines and fees also fund nearly all the grants provided to victim assistance programs, which serve approximately 325,000 men, women and children annually.
For more information about services offered by the agency, including eligibility guidelines and a list of victim assistance programs that provide direct help, such as counseling and crisis intervention, advocacy and legal assistance, visit www.ovs.ny.gov or call 1-800-247-8035.
Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey said, "I am pleased that community-based organizations across New York, including in my district, will receive this robust funding to provide critical support and resources to crime victims and their families. These investments were made possible by Congress raising the funding cap on the federal Victims of Crime Act, providing states with additional money to expand and improve their victim assistance programs. As Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, I am proud to have played a role in securing this funding, and I am committed to ensuring that victims of crime and their families have continued access to the services and assistance they need to recover and heal."
Congressman José E. Serrano said, "We need to do more to not only reduce the incidence of crime in our state, but also to help victims immediately following crime incidents. This critical funding will help first responders, hospitals and government agencies improve their security, counseling, and health care services in New York City and throughout the rest of the state. As a member of the Appropriations committee that helped secure this funding, I'm glad to see the positive impact it is already having on our state."
Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, "I applaud the Governor's ongoing commitment to supporting crime victims. This new funding will go a long way to ensuring that more New Yorkers have access to the support and resources they need, particularly case managers to help them navigate their options and to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a crime. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor on these critical issues."
Congresswoman Grace Meng said, "It is critical that important services be made available to crime victims and their families, and these funds will help improve needed programs that provide counseling, crisis intervention, legal assistance and other crucial resources. I am proud to join the Governor in announcing these federal grants which will help ensure that crime victims continue to receive the assistance they need and deserve."