A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action
Last Revised: Mar 17, 2011 - Initial Posting: Apr 04, 2006
Purpose

Westchester Community Opportunity Program sponsors Victims Assistance Services to provide free comprehensive clinical and support services to all crime victims, to provide educational activities to prevent victimization and re-victimization, and to raise the awareness of government, law enforcement, health care providers, schools, the criminal justice system and the community-at-large about the unique needs and strengths of crime victims.

Description

Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP) administers VAS BrochureVictims Assistance Services (VAS) to provide free, confidential assistance to victims of crime, their families, friends and survivors.  VAS staff includes counselors, advocates, therapists and social workers.  Services are coordinated with police, judges, district attorneys, social service agencies, schools, the media, community organizations and neighborhood businesses to assure that victims are treated with care, respect and dignity, and that their rights are protected.

VAS programs include:

  • Crime Victims Assistance
    • Assistance in applying for Crime Victims Compensation for medical bills, lost income and funeral expenses
    • Referrals to agencies that offer further assistance
    • Crisis intervention
    • Safety planning
    • Emergency assistance in obtaining money for food, rent and other necessities
    • Counseling Grief Therapy
    • Court assistance, accompaniment and information
    • Help in replacing documents such as Medicare cards and birth certificates
  • Support Groups
    • Rape survivors
    • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse and incest
    • Family and friends of vehicular homicide
    • Family and friends of victims of homicide
    • Parents of sexually abused children (non-offending parent)
    • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program (SANE Flyer) – Specially trained nurse examiners perform forensic examination for victims of sexual assault.  SANE is available in the emergency rooms of area hospitals through a contractual arrangement with VAS.  Support is offered in collaboration with the VAS Rape Crisis Advocates Program.
  • Rape Crisis Helpline (24-hour number) – Rape Crisis Brochure
    • Crisis intervention response
    • Individual and group counseling and support groups for rape survivors and survivors of childhood sexual abuse
    • Date Rape Prevention Education
    • SANE
    • On-call Victims Advocates at hospitals
  • The Clothesline ProjectThe Clothesline Project – a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a t-shirt for display by VAS.
  • Homicide Crisis Outreach
    • Outreach to bereaved families
    • Individual and family counseling and support groups
    • Victims rights information
    • Assistance for filing for benefits to help with burial costs, loss of earnings, medical bills of the deceased, and other out-of-pocket expenses
    • Guidance on responding to the media
    • Linkage to national victims advocacy organizations
  • Family Violence Intervention and Prevention (available 7 days a week)
    • Counseling
    • Emergency shelter placement
    • Emergency food
    • Lock replacement
    • Help in obtaining Orders of Protection
    • Court assistance
    • The Hope Chest – safety planning and procedures along with 911 phones, phone card, food vouchers, relocation assistance (bus vouchers)
  • Elderly Victims Services
    • Home visits
    • Special needs assessment
    • Case management for older persons and their caregivers
    • Safety planning
    • Counseling
    • Home security surveys and lock installations
    • Linkage to caregiver services
  • Children’s Safety Project
    • Group counseling, teaching safe behavior, nonviolent conflict resolution and understanding feelings
    • Opportunities to talk about frightening experiences
    • Addressing special needs of children who have been victims or witnesses to violence
  • Referral for young children and their families
  • Court Assistance
    • Assistance in recovering stolen property
    • Aid for victims and witnesses threatened by defendants
    • Help in preparing victim impact statements
    • Assistance in obtaining Orders of Protection
    • Filing and follow-up of NYS Crime Victims Compensation Applications
    • Information about fair treatment standards and victims rights
    • Court accompaniment
  • Education and Training
    • Training for police officers, health care and counseling professionals on the psychology of victimization and the identification, treatment and referral of victims
    • Training for community volunteers for the Rape Crisis Helpline
    • Training and coordination of the SANE Program
    • Workshops on rape prevention, child safety, crime prevention, and the emotional consequences for being a crime victim
    • Crime prevention presentations for parents, students, and seniors
    • Elder abuse identification and prevention

Additional information related to Victims Assistance is available through:

Outcomes

WestCOP’s involvement with VAS has broadened the agency’s overall credibility in the community since VAS services benefit all socioeconomic groups.  Consequently, this has enhanced WestCOP’s capacity to develop other new initiatives and collaborative ventures.

Specific VAS results in 2005 included:

  • Opened more than 1,600 new cases
  • Aided more than 250 children who had suffered sexual or other physical abuse, as well as more than 100 older citizens
  • Provided support to 79 family members of homicide victims
  • Was called upon by 750 victims of domestic violence
  • Helped 345 people who had been robbed and others who had been victims of fraud, harassment, burglaries and other crimes
  • Replaced locks on more than 310 apartments and homes
  • Arranged for emergency food or money on more than 450 cases
  • Made more than 523 home visits
  • Responded to more than 624 calls to the VAS Helpline
  • Accompanied clients to more than 600 court appearances
  • Made more than 7,152 referrals to other agencies
  • SANE provided 37 medical examinations for victims of sexual assault and SANE nurses testified in 5 Grand Jury hearings and 10 Criminal Court proceedings
  • Prevention education presentations were provided for approximately 8,191 adults and children at community organizations, schools, health facilities and colleges
  • Helped over 305 sexual assault victims
  • Provided over 1,407 individual therapy sessions by licensed therapists
Contact

May Krukiel, Victims Assistance Director
914.592.5600 ext. 305