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Achieving Excellence: Model Standards for Serving Victims & Survivors of Crime (Model Standards) was developed for individual victim service practitioners and program administrators. It is intended to promote the competency and ethical integrity of victim service providers, in order to enhance their capacity to provide high-quality, consistent responses to crime victims and to meet the demands facing the field today.

There are no formal regulatory boards that oversee or guide the diverse array of victim assistance programs operating throughout the United States, yet there is a growing trend within some states toward greater standardization of training and practice. In general, the crime victims field has traditionally looked to other professional disciplines—such as social work, psychology, and law—to establish benchmarks and guidance, using the standards of these allied professions to strengthen the field’s professional and ethical practices.

Most individual practitioners and program administrators don’t have time to explore the literature or websites of related fields when developing their own organizational policies and procedures or identifying the professional development needs of their staff. To address this problem, the National Victim Assistance Standards Consortium identified standards that were common among a broad array of other professions that support the mission and vision of the victim services field. Then, with input from national, state, local, and tribal victim assistance experts throughout the United States, the Consortium developed Model Standards as a capacity-building resource applicable within many different victim service settings.

Model Standards focuses on three areas:

  • Program Standards for Serving Victims & Survivors of CrimeWritten with the needs of program leaders and managers in mind, these standards provide recommendations for guidelines, policies, and procedures that victim-serving organizations should have in place, and identify ways of documenting and administering services. Programs can adopt the standards to help shape how they deliver services to victims and to ensure the accessibility and quality of services throughout the community.
  • Competency Standards for Serving Victims & Survivors of CrimeWritten with the needs of individual service providers and their supervisors in mind, these standards describe general attitudes, knowledge, and skills that demonstrate professional competency in the crime victims field. Providers can achieve these competencies through a variety of means, such as personal experience, on-the-job performance, training, and formal education. Educators and trainers can develop curricula, training materials, and other professional development opportunities to help service providers meet these basic standards and service providers can assess their own progress toward these competencies. Administrative staff also can use these standards to identify their staff’s professional development needs and provide in-service training.
  • Ethical Standards for Serving Victims & Survivors of CrimeIntended for a wide audience, these standards present the ethical expectations of providers based on core values for the field. Providers should use them as guidelines to help address a range of issues they may encounter in daily service provision.

What the Standards Do NOT Address

Model Standards attempts to address many of the issues facing communities across the Nation related to service provision for victims/survivors of all types of crime; however, there will be instances where this e-pub may not address the specific needs or challenges of a specific jurisdiction or a victim population.

Model Standards provides generalized guidance on serving crime victims; it is not a curriculum to follow or a comprehensive training resource for all that service providers need to know to serve specific groups of crime victims. Victim service providers will need to obtain specialized training for delivering victim services and working with special populations of crime victims. They also must understand the laws and regulations that apply within their own states.

The Department of Justice and our federal partners offer a wide array of training and technical assistance opportunities that support and supplement the content in Model Standards. The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), for example, offers resources, training, and technical assistance through many different discretionary grants that focus on specific topics. Additionally, the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC) provides trainings upon request, and customized technical assistance. The OVC TTAC website houses VAT Online, a foundational Web-based victim assistance training program through which victim service providers and allied professionals can acquire the essential skills and knowledge they need to more effectively assist victims of crime. Throughout this e-pub, the computer icon icon is used to reference relevant modules of VAT Online. OVC TTAC also administers VictimLaw, a searchable database of victims' rights legal provisions, including federal, state, and territorial statutes; tribal laws; state constitutional amendments; court rules; administrative code provisions; and summaries of related court decisions and attorney general opinions.

In addition to Model Standards, readers who work frequently with children or individuals with certain cognitive disabilities or mental illnesses are encouraged to consult other relevant standards, including—