Victim/Witness Assistance Programs
Since 1981, OVS has been provided with a legislative appropriation for the purpose of making grants for the provision of local victim/witness assistance and services. Initially, twenty-three programs received grant funds for this purpose. In fiscal year 2009-10, 189 victim/witness assistance programs received grant awards from the OVS, ranging from $32,000 to over $1.8 million. OVS supports statewide, comprehensive victim/witness assistance services in all sectors of the community. Criminal justice agencies, non-profit victim programs and specific municipal programs all receive support. Examples include DA offices, Probation Departments, YWCA’s, local police departments, hospitals, and Catholic Charities organizations.
During the state fiscal year 2011-12, $6,392,613 in state Criminal Justice Improvement Account (CJIA) funds were appropriated, and $25,334,859 federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds were appropriated for grant-making purposes in victim assistance.
All grant awards are made to programs based on proposals received in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the OVS. This process enables the OVS Grants Unit to assess a program’s needs based on area needs, past performance and other available resources within a geographical area. The OVS grants funds to existing programs to enable them to expand their services, as well as to new programs which demonstrate the need and ability to provide services to crime victims. We are a major source of funding for the Department of Corrections Victim Information Notification Everyday program (VINE). The State Police also received a grant through OVS to fund the hiring and training of victim advocates with the New York State Police Troops, which provides services to underserved areas in New York State, especially outlying rural areas. OVS also provides funds to the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) to support services to those who are affected by domestic violence. Funding also allows OPDV to inform and direct the State’s policy efforts and coordinate domestic violence training, education and outreach efforts.
The Grants Unit has the fiduciary responsibility of safeguarding government grant funds. Unit auditors and program monitors perform on-site reviews for contract compliance. In addition to the contract and performance reviews, the auditors and monitors provide continuing technical and program assistance to OVS’s grant-funded programs.