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Commitment from the Office for Victims of Crime

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), within the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, is committed to enhancing the nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and to providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime. OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund), which is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars. Federal revenues deposited into the Fund also come from gifts, donations, and bequests by private parties. OVC channels funding for victim compensation and assistance throughout the United States, raises awareness about victims’ issues, promotes compliance with victims’ rights laws, and provides training and technical assistance and publications and products to victim assistance professionals.

OVC is dedicated to a constant improvement in the national response to crime victims by:

  • Identifying emerging needs and gaps in existing services.
  • Enhancing the skill sets of service providers to meet these needs better.
  • Promoting greater public awareness of the issues that crime victims face.

Vision 21 Initiative

Published in 2013, Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services documented a comprehensive assessment of the victim assistance field and presents a cohesive framework for strategic change in the victim services field. The authors, and OVC, anticipate that the publication and initiative will catalyze change in four broad areas:

  • Conducting continuous rather than episodic strategic planning in the victim assistance field to effect real change in research, policy, programming, and capacity building.
  • Supporting research to build a body of evidence-based knowledge and generate, collect, and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on victimization, emerging victimization trends, services and behaviors, and victims’ rights enforcement efforts.
  • Ensuring the statutory, policy, and programmatic flexibility to address enduring and emerging crime victim issues.
  • Building and institutionalizing capacity through an infusion of technology, training, and innovation to ensure that the field is equipped to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth

The Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth Demonstration Project (LSC) addressed Vision 21 Recommendation #4: Build and institutionalize capacity through an infusion of technology, training, and innovation.

Launched in January 2015, Linking Systems of Care was designed to address child and youth victimization through state level demonstration projects. Statewide demonstration sites were tasked with bringing together all relevant child serving systems and professionals to establish a coordinated approach that ensured that every child entering these systems was assessed for victimization, provided coordinated and comprehensive services to address their needs, and that policies and practices are established to sustain the project long-term.

Each demonstration site had a project period of up to six years during in which it worked to bring together relevant systems and professionals in its state to provide early identification, intervention, and treatment for child and youth victims and their families and caregivers. The sites worked strategically and collaboratively with multi-disciplinary stakeholders to ensure that prevention and intervention services were determined by the needs of the family, and that community resources were provided with holistic and coordinated intent. Sustainable practices and policies were explored for long-term use and potential replication in other communities.

Project Vision

Our nation’s children and youth experience crime and victimization at alarming rates. Through the LSC demonstration project, OVC wanted to learn what was needed to bring healthcare, child welfare, justice, and other systems together at a statewide level to coordinate and align efforts to ensure a timely and seamless response to young victims, their families, and caregivers no matter the system of entry.

Project Objectives

  • Identify and promote healing for victims of crime.
  • Provide or coordinate prevention and intervention services to youth and families experiencing trauma and victimization.
  • Build capacity within communities to meet the needs of youth exposed to violence.

Guiding Principles


Guiding Principles for the Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth Program are designed to guide efforts to develop and better align all of the systems of care that respond to the needs of children, youth, families, and caregivers who have experienced victimization and/or been exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities.


  • Good communication leads to informed decisions.
  • For the best results, both families and practitioners must keep each other informed on a continual basis.
  • All efforts must be trauma informed, and support the healing and growth of children, families, and communities.
  • Systems of care and communities will provide holistic services with a life-course perspective.
  • Consideration must be given to trauma experienced across lifespans and generations, including historical and structural trauma and racism. Our work must avoid retraumatization and include eliminating processes and practices that re-traumatize individuals.
  • Children, youth, parents, caregivers, teachers, service providers, practitioners, and administrators must be included in the process.
  • Our approach is strength-based, focused on resiliency, and empowers youth and their families to make informed decisions about accessing services, support, and community-based programs.

Action Items

  • Embrace our youngest victims and ensure that every young person who experiences victimization receives timely and meaningful responses and services.
  • Proactively identify young victims and work integrally with their families and caregivers to provide for their array of needs.
  • Ensure these young victims and their families are set on a path to healing and achieving their full potential in life.

Download Guiding Principles

I. Healing Individuals, Families, and Communities
Linked Systems of Care communities are concerned with the healing of individuals, families, and communities that have experienced or have been exposed to violence. Healing includes safety, justice, the opportunity to make positive social-emotional connections, and self-determination. Opportunities for healing occur at all points of contact; healing interventions are accessible, trauma-informed, strength-based, individualized, and gender and culturally responsive. Parents, caregivers, and children should be meaningfully engaged in decision making for prevention, intervention, and healing. Parents and caregivers are offered coordinated treatment to address their own trauma histories and their reactions to their child’s traumatic experiences. Organizations and communities understand traumatic impact on providers and institute policies that minimize vicarious trauma and secondary traumatic stress and increase staff resilience.

II. Linked Systems of Care
All systems of care are connected and aspire to maximize their collective impact through communication, collaboration, and coordination. To guide effective Linked Systems of Care, we must:

  1. Clarify roles.
  2. Create a common vocabulary related to your goals and outcomes.
  3. Share information (while ensuring safety and autonomy for individuals and families) to avoid duplicative screening and re-traumatization.
  4. Engage traditional and nontraditional community-based partners, including survivor groups.
  5. Leverage your resources.
  6. Build community capacity to meet victim needs including:
    1. Seamless and equitable access to appropriate interventions and supports, and
    2. Meaningful referrals.
  7. Invest in common screening and assessment tools and principles.
  8. Be accountable to one another and the families you serve.
  9. Create mutually informed policy agendas.

III. Informed Decision Making
Linked Systems of Care provide as much information as possible to families and practitioners so that the most targeted, holistic, safe, and effective interventions are available. Further, Linked Systems of Care are crucial to continuous quality improvement to improve and target interventions to meet the needs of children and youth. Decisions are best when informed by circumstances, research, and the needs of children, families, and communities as identified during meaningful engagement processes. Decision makers are best poised when they receive regular ongoing and meaningful training, technical assistance, and resources on the effects of trauma.