The program, which is sponsored by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) in partnership with Buffalo State College Center for Health and Social Research, provides training in types of victimizations and impacts on vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly, skills for case management and resources available to help innocent victims of crime recover. It is funded by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.
"There are 500 programs to assist innocent victims of crimes in New York State. Providers need to keep abreast of the programs, know how to navigate through the different criminal and civil justice systems, and how to collaborate with other programs to the benefit of their clients," said Jean Fei, interim executive director of NYSCASA. "The Academy provides the only broad-based training to help them."
One of the first in the nation, the NYSVAA is modeled after a national program started in the 1990s by the U.S. Department of Justice. The curriculum is designed by a statewide Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from 12 diverse organizations including, NYS Crime Victims Board, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, Delphi Drug & Alcohol Council, NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Buffalo State College, and others.
More than 30 topics are covered in classes that are highly interactive, employing victim impact panels, discussions, small group exercises and case studies. Academy participants can earn continuing education credits, college credit and credits toward professional certifications in CASAC and NOVA.
At the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 15, a deserving student will be honored with the Sister Karen Klimczak award, named in memory of the Franciscan nun who started the "I Leave Peace Prints" campaign and was murdered at the Halfway House where she devoted herself to non violence and helping others. This year, her sister, Sister Jean Klimczak, will present the award to a student for his or her achievement at the Academy and demonstration of Sister Karen's philosophy and commitment.
"Assisting victims of crimes requires special skills and knowledge. Buffalo State College takes pride in working with NYSCASA to support victim assistance providers in their all-important vocation," said William F. Wieczorek, director, Buffalo State College Center for Health and Social Research.