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Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services—a comprehensive assessment of the victim assistance field conducted through the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice—identified a vision that every state will establish wraparound legal networks to ensure that crime victims’ rights are enforced and that victims of crime receive the broad range of legal services needed.

As a result of that vision, ten state VOCA—Victims of Crime Act administrative offices—including DC’s—received funding to coordinate legal networks. The Victim Legal Network of DC (VLNDC) was created with the ultimate goal of alleviating the legal obstacles that crime victims face after a criminal victimization by creating a seamless network of high-quality, well-trained legal services providers in the areas of criminal representation, civil law, and administrative proceedings. 

NVRDC serves as the lead subject matter expert on the team for crime victims' rights and as the organization uniquely providing both criminal and civil crime victim services in the District.

 

With the support of the Mayor’s Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG), NVRDC coordinates the efforts to craft a responsive network structure that would address the concerns raised in Vision 21 for the District in collaboration with Amara Legal Center, Ayuda, and the Legal Aid Society of DC. Over the first 2 phases of the project, these organizations developed an implementation plan that guides the network referral process, in order to increase access to legal services for those impacted by crime in the District.  Once the plan was completed and approved, VLNDC began a 3-month pilot phase with 6 additional legal service organizations joining as network partners – growing the network to a total of 10 member organizations.

Learn about the other networks funded by OVC under Vision 21 here.

Funding for the multi-year project is made possible by a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, and supported with technical assistance and training from the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI).

Please contact NVRDC’s VLNDC Navigator, Alexandra Smith, for more information about NVRDC’s role in the VLNDC project at alexandra@nvrdc.org.

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PROJECT UPDATES

FY18 Q2 (JAN 2018 - MAR 2018)

This quarter, VLNDC continues to create impactful connections between crime victims and available, appropriate legal services to meet their needs while setting the stage for expansion of services. With increasing demand, the network served an additional 40 individuals with 98 legal needs. 21 individuals were referred by member organizations, and the remaining 19 were intakes conducted by Ms. Smith, the VLNDC Navigator. Ms. Smith successfully connected 45% of the legal needs for assistance to members of our network, and provided 47% of the cases out of network resources. The majority of our out-of-network referrals were due to requests for assistance in legal areas that are not provided by current members of our network. Finally, while 92.5% of VLNDC victims were female, 7% identified as male, and 35% of all victims identified as foreign born.

In addition to sustaining the daily needs of VLNDC through member meetings and functional enhancements to our member portal, Ms. Adawi and Ms. Smith began taking steps to expand the network through recruitment and outreach efforts. Ms. Adawi and Ms. Smith invested a substantial amount of time in planning the launch event for April 10, in a way that will encourage community engagement in VLNDC. For example, they distributed targeted invitations to social service providers who do not identify as victim service organizations, to provide a resource table at the launch event. Thus, NVRDC would not only be able to build relationships with unique community partners, but also allow them an opportunity to learn about VLNDC services and how it might benefit their clients. Finally, several organizations that were identified as potential recruitment targets for VLNDC membership were also personally invited to attend the launch event. NVRDC looks forward to starting the next quarter with this energizing and uplifting event!

FY18 Q1(OCT 2017 -DEC 2017)

This quarter VLNDC has seamlessly transitioned from the pilot phase into providing full services to victims of crime in DC seeking legal assistance.  In this quarter alone, the network assisted 33 different individuals with 66 legal needs in receiving services either from within network members, or external resources.  While a little more than half of these individuals were referred by member organizations, Alexandra Smith, the VLNDC Navigator, executed the rest of the intakes. Ms. Smith utilizes a trauma informed—but succinct—intake process to obtain only the key information necessary to determine the right legal organization to address a caller’s needs.  

Through VLNDC’s unique hub and spoke model—where the navigator is at the hub of all of the member organizations who are on the wheel—service providers are able to substantially increase their access to other legal service providers in DC without having to know various service areas themselves. This information is centralized within the Navigator who processes and places cases according to services provided, and organization capacity information.  This also results in victims accessing services in an unprecedentedly short time frame.  For example, a crime victim who required assistance for a family law issue contacted Ms. Smith for services. Within 48 hours of conducting the intake (a concise 30 minute process over the phone), the victim’s case had been considered for services by four organizations, and finally accepted by the fifth.  In a traditional setting, this victim would have had to conduct five different intakes—which would have taken weeks—before possibly being placed within the fifth organization. VLNDC is excited to see its growth as the network expands in the coming quarter with more outreach and recruitment.

Please contact NVRDC’s VLNDC Navigator, Alexandra Smith, for more information about NVRDC’s role in the VLNDC project at alexandra@nvrdc.org.