Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Crime Victims Board/Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508 – cell
janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov
www.ovs.ny.gov
For immediate release: Monday, Oct. 19, 2009

Non-profit organizations in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie counties to enhance services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other crimes
Three victims’ assistance programs among 10 statewide to receive New York State Crime Victims Board grants funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Ten non-profit organizations that assist crime victims across the state – including three in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie counties – are slated to receive nearly $3 million over the next three years to enhance programs and services for children and adults who have been victims of sexual assault, domestic violence or other crimes.

The New York State Crime Victims Board awarded the three-year grants, which were made possible through approximately $1.79 million in funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act coupled with existing funding available to the board through the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). Under VOCA, fees, fines and surcharges paid by individuals convicted of federal crimes are to be used to fund victim assistance programs and crime victims’ compensation.

The following organizations received grants in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie counties:

The Southern Tier Health Care System in Olean (Cattaraugus County): $251,953 to fund two family case coordinators/advocates at the Southern Tier Child Advocacy Center, which serves children who are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

The Chautauqua County Child Advocacy Program in Jamestown (Chautauqua County): $190,794 to fund an advocate/mental health counselor for the center, which services children who are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse in Chautauqua County.

Child and Family Services Haven House in Buffalo (Erie County): $163,294 to continue funding two part-time domestic violence victim advocates, one for the Erie County Integrated Domestic Violence Court and the other for the Erie County Felony Domestic Violence Court.

Governor David A. Paterson said: “These grants will assist the most vulnerable victims of particularly devastating crimes – sex crimes and domestic violence – by providing access to direct support, such as counseling, help obtaining orders of protection, and accompaniment to court. This assistance is critical in helping victims deal with trauma and begin to rebuild their lives.”

“I thank the Obama Administration and the New York Congressional delegation for making this part of the stimulus program,” Governor Paterson added. “The recovery money has allowed the Crime Victims Board to increase its network of assistance programs to ensure that in large counties or small, services are available. And I thank the dedicated workers who provide such vital services to help New Yorkers who have been victimized get back on their feet.”

Six other organizations across the state are receiving grants for the first time from the Crime Victims Board:

  • The Legal Aid Society of Rochester (Monroe County): $326,260 to retain two attorneys to assist domestic violence victims with obtaining orders of protection from Family Courts in Orleans and Monroe counties.
  • Staten Island Legal Services (Richmond County): $322,554 to continue funding a social worker position to assist domestic violence victims.
  • Columbia Memorial Hospital (Columbia County): $265,416 to fund a victims’ advocate and part-time mental health therapist at the Dr. Stephen and Suzanne Menkes Child Advocacy programs, which serves children who are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse in Columbia and Greene counties.
  • Wyckoff Heights Medical Center (Kings/Queens counties): $192,678 to retain a social worker and hire a case coordinator so that the center’s rape crisis services can be expanded to serve domestic violence victims.
  • In Our Own Voices (Albany County): $186,742 to fund a new advocate to assist lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) individuals who have been victims of crime. The grant also will allow the agency to retain an outreach specialist.
  • Mechanicville Area Community Services (Saratoga County): $104,364 to convert a part-time victims’ advocate position full time.

In addition, Equinox of Albany, which has been funded by the Crime Victims Board since 1998, also received Recovery Act funding in conjunction with traditional VOCA funds.  The three-year, $818,476 grant to Equinox will fund counselor, advocate and case management positions.

Recovery Act funds will pay for the first two years of the grants to those 10 organizations, with the third year funded through VOCA. The three-year grant funding cycle begins Oct. 1, 2009 (the start of the federal budget year) and runs through Sept. 30, 2012. Each grant was awarded competitively and designed to help organizations either retain existing jobs or create new ones, and enhance services. The board also made it a priority to support programs in areas of the state that have been underserved.

“Through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the Crime Victims Board has been able to increase its investment in community organizations that provide help, healing and hope to men, women and children who have been victims of crime,” Board Chairwoman Tina M. Stanford said.

Established in 1966, the board’s mission is to “provide compensation to innocent victims of crime in a timely, efficient and compassionate manner; to fund direct services to crime victims via a network of community-based programs; and to advocate for the rights and benefits of all innocent victims of crime.”

The board also has awarded three-year grants totaling approximately $95.8 million to another 179 victim assistance programs across New York State through its traditional funding sources: federal VOCA money coupled with state funds generated by fines, mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees that certain offenders pay after conviction in state court. For example, an individual convicted of a felony in New York State must pay a $300 mandatory surcharge and a $25 crime victim assistance fee.

Those 179 agencies also will receive the grants from Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2012. Crime Victims Board grants fund programs offered by local district attorneys’ offices; probation and police departments; hospitals; and non-profit organizations, including YWCAs, rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers.  Victim assistance programs provide services including crisis intervention and counseling, assistance with filing compensation claims and arranging for legal assistance and transportation. Complete list of victims' assistance programs funded by the CVB.

“Including the organizations that received Recovery Act funding, the board will provide support to a network of 189 victim assistance programs throughout New York State,” Chairwoman Stanford added. “These programs are on the front lines, working day in, and day out, to ensure that crime victims get the assistance they need during a very difficult time in their lives. The board is pleased to provide these additional resources so victim assistance programs can enhance and expand their services.”

In addition to funding victims’ assistance programs, the Crime Victims Board provides direct compensation to crime victims and their families, including payment of medical and funeral expenses, compensation for lost wages and reimbursement for essential personal property such as eyeglasses.

Victim compensation also is funded through fines, fees and surcharges paid by offenders convicted in either federal or state courts. During the 2007-08 fiscal year (the most recent year for which data is available), the Crime Victims Board provided more than $27 million to crime victims and their families.

Innocent victims of crime are eligible to file claims with the board as outlined at www.ovs.ny.gov (click on “Help for Victims”). The crime for which the victim is filing a claim must have been reported to a criminal justice agency and the victim must have cooperated in the investigation and/or prosecution of the case. Awards, however, are not dependent upon conviction.

The Crime Victims Board has five members appointed to fill seven-year terms by the Governor with the advice and consent of the state Senate. The board has offices in Albany, Brooklyn and Buffalo.