Several area agencies are among the 179 groups across New York state receiving money from the state to provide services to crime victims.
According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, the following agencies will receive grants:
Cattaraugus Community Action will receive four grants totaling $426,953 to assist all crime victims, with a specific program to assist Native Americans and specialized services for sexual assault and domestic violence victims;
The Chautauqua County District Attorney's Office will receive $120,064 to help all crime victims;
Chautauqua County Child Advocacy Program: $128,444 to assist child abuse victims;
Southern Tier Health Care System: $139,873 to help fund the Southern Tier Child Advocacy Center, which serves victims of child abuse in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties; and
The Salvation Army: two grants totaling $168,159 to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Chautauqua County.
A total of 230 programs will offer assistance such as counseling and crisis intervention, advocacy and legal help to those in times of need across all 62 counties in New York.
"When someone is the victim of a crime, they should have fast and easy access to services that help them recover," Cuomo said. "New York must remain a leader in providing support services to crime victims, and this funding will help us meet that goal by ensuring that there are programs available in every corner of the state."
The 179 providers, which include nonprofit, community-based organizations, government and law enforcement agencies and hospitals, will execute three-year contracts with OVS, with the option for one, two-year extension. The nearly $36.2 million will fund the first year of those contracts; it is expected that approximately the same amount of federal and state funding will be available annually for the duration of those contracts. The funding cycle for the grants aligns with the federal budget year (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30).
According to Cuomo's office, 95 percent of the nearly $36.2 million available comes from the federal Victims of Crime Act Victim and Witness Assistance Grant Program and the state's Criminal Justice Improvement Account, both of which are funded by fines, fees and surcharges that are paid by certain offenders convicted in federal or state courts. State funds comprise the remaining 5 percent.
The federal VOCA program required that 40 percent of the $36.2 million fund programs that serve the following priority groups: victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, and victims of any other type of crime. For the first time, OVS dedicated funding, up to 2 percent of total available, for programs designed to serve young men of color between the ages of 16 and 24 and Native Americans.
When applying for funding, providers were asked to identify services that responded to the immediate needs of victims in the aftermath of crime and addressed gaps in services. These grants will fund personnel, such as crime victims' advocates who help men, women, children and their families apply for financial compensation from OVS and assist them as their cases are handled by the criminal justice system, and services, including legal assistance, crisis counseling and emergency housing. Last year, crime victims' assistance programs funded by OVS served nearly 256,000 people statewide.
In addition to administering these grants, OVS provides direct financial compensation to innocent victims of crime and their families. In 2013, the agency provided more than $22.7 million in compensation that funded a range of assistance to crime victims and their families, including payment of medical and dental bills, funeral and moving expenses and compensation for lost wages and support.
"Every victim is unique, but they all have the same need for care and support from their communities," said U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning. "From sexual assault and domestic violence victims to child abuse and human trafficking victims, these programs and services will give victims the care and attention they need. All New Yorkers are better served by these programs that are uniquely tailored to each victim. Making sure victims have access to these services is essential and a worthwhile task for lawmakers at every level."