The National Victim Assistance Standards Consortium (the Consortium) is a group of victim service experts that examines standards and credentialing for victim service providers. Consortium members include both academics and professionals from many disciplinary backgrounds (e.g., criminal justice, psychology, social work, public health, education) who identify with the interests of membership organizations, paid and volunteer practitioners, administrators, policymakers, researchers, and victims and survivors. Many members are direct service providers, and most have substantial experience in the victim services field.
The Consortium was established in 1999 by the Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs—in partnership with the University of South Carolina under grant number 1999-VF-GX-K012—to conduct an extensive review of the literature on victim services and the standards existing in the field. Its members hosted town hall meetings throughout the country and bridged geographic and philosophical divides to find common ground on many issues. Under the leadership of Principal Investigator Dana DeHart, Ph.D., Research Professor and Assistant Dean for Research, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina, Consortium members held intensive meetings to integrate input from the field, discuss issues, and draft a common definition and mission statement for victim assistance. Members also developed a kit that included three sets of standards: Victim Assistance Program Standards, Competency Standards for Victim Assistance Providers, and Ethical Standards for Victim Assistance Providers. Published in May 2003, the standards provided guidelines for promoting competence and ethical integrity as well as high-quality and consistent service. With the standards housed on the University of South Carolina website since 2003, project staff continued to respond to requests for information about the standards from throughout the United States and abroad.
In 2010, OVC reconvened the Consortium, under grant number 2010-VF-GX-K019, awarded to the South Carolina Research Foundation, to update the standards. The new Consortium, which included some members of the original Consortium, worked from the strong foundation of the original publication to develop Achieving Excellence: Model Standards for Serving Victims & Survivors of Crime (Model Standards). This e-pub includes the three revised sets of standards—Program Standards, Competency Standards, and Ethical Standards—as well as an updated glossary and links to additional resources. Model Standards is intended to help victim service practitioners and program administrators improve the quality and consistency of their response to crime victims, and to strengthen organizational capacity by defining the types of policies and practices that victim-serving organizations should have in place.
The model standards are intended as guidelines and suggestions (rather than mandates and requirements), and can be used as a template for adapting policies and practices to the needs of a specific population or location. They are purposefully broad to address the wide range of crime victims and survivors. To successfully adapt the standards to your own setting and specialization, you must refer to local, state, tribal, or federal laws and policies.
VAT Online is a free Web-based victim assistance training program that includes training modules on the topics of “Assessing Victim’s Needs,” “Referrals,” and “Collaboration.”