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New statewide campaign to inform New Yorkers about 'critical services' for victims, survivors & families in aftermath of crime


Mon, Aug 7th 2023 05:00 pm

New York State Office of Victim Services’ awareness effort highlights range of support and services available at no cost from victim assistance programs statewide, access to financial help for expenses resulting from a crime

√ 12-week campaign also aims to reach traditionally underserved communities, those affected by increases in reported hate crimes: Black, Asian, Jewish, LGBTQ+

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a new statewide campaign to inform New Yorkers about “critical services” available for victims, survivors and their families in the aftermath of crime. Funded by the state Office of Victim Services, the awareness effort highlights the wide range of support and services available at no cost from victim assistance programs, and access to financial help for expenses resulting from a crime. The 12-week campaign, which begins today, also aims to reach traditionally underserved communities and those affected by increases in reported crimes: Black, Asian, Jewish and LGBTQ+ individuals.

“There are myriad resources available in the event an individual who lives, works or visits our state becomes a victim of crime, but those services don’t matter if individuals and families don’t know they exist or have roadblocks to accessing them,” Hochul said. “We work for New Yorkers, and that work includes being there for them in their greatest time of need. I am proud of the work done by the Office of Victim Services, and I am glad to amplify that work so that those who need it know exactly how to access it.”

The statewide campaign runs through Sunday, Oct. 29, and uses Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; Google searches; iHeart streaming and radio; display ads in local businesses; and platforms that cater to Black, Jewish, Asian and LGBTQ+ communities. Themed “Sunrise,” the campaign focuses on hope and moving forward, and easy access to services and support that can help individuals and their loved ones after a crime.

New York State Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “New York state has long been a leader in ensuring the availability of services, support and financial assistance for victims and survivors. In the immediate aftermath of a crime, however, it can be confusing and challenging to find help. We wanted to educate all New Yorkers before they face a crisis about the invaluable assistance available to them.”

A press release stated, “The Office of Victim Services funds and supports 239 community-based programs across the state that provide that provide essential services, such as crisis counseling, support groups, case management, emergency shelter, civil legal help, and relocation assistance, among other assistance, to victims and survivors, loved ones, and communities. These programs provide services at no cost, and regardless of whether an individual has reported the crime to police. Advocates and service providers also assist individuals with filing claims for compensation or reimbursement for expenses they incurred because of the crime. More than 80% of claims are submitted through OVS-funded programs.

“Funding for the awareness campaign is available through the Federal Victims of Crime Act and has no impact on funding for victim assistance programs or compensation and reimbursement. The agency will evaluate outcomes of this campaign and use those metrics to inform future outreach and awareness efforts.

“The campaign builds upon significant work by the Office of Victim Services to improve and enhance access to services; expand eligibility for financial assistance; and build capacity among services providers through professional training and technical assistance. In addition, the agency has partnered with the Council of State Governments Justice Center to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to better understand gaps in services, short- and long-term needs of victims and survivors, and to inform improvements to programs that assist and strengthen individuals, loved ones and their communities.”

In recent years, OVS has:

•Launched OVS Resource Connect, an online platform that allows individuals to find help and resources by using everyday language to search for support for a specific concern or need, by ZIP code. OVS Resource Connect then generates a list of programs that can provide services to meet their needs.

•Advanced and supported a variety of legislation that, upon enactment, has expanded access and eligibility to compensation, including allowing victims of hate crimes, unlawful dissemination or publication of an intimate image, and first-degree and second-degree reckless endangerment to receive compensation for lost earnings, crime scene cleanup costs, counseling and other expenses not covered by insurance, even if they are not injured.

Increased compensation for essential personal property lost or damaged from $500 to $2,500; increased emergency awards for funeral expenses to up to $3,000; and expanded access to compensation for individuals who were victims of hate crimes but did not sustain any physical injuries.

•Partnered with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services to embed licensed social workers and case managers at SNUG Street Outreach programs in communities hardest hit by gun violence and other crimes. The initiative has allowed OVS to reach individuals who were not aware of – or may have been reluctant to – seek services and assistance in the past. The partnership began in 2020, when social workers and case managers assisted an average of 275 individuals during each quarter. Last year, those professionals saw an average of 733 individuals a quarter, providing counseling and emotional support, helping the access safe housing, and applying for compensation for crime-related expenses, including funeral costs.

•Provided $6.3 million in funding over two years to community-based programs that work with neighborhoods hit hardest by gun violence.

Follow the Office of Victim Services on Twitter and Facebook.

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