U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

2012 National Survey of Victim Service Organizations

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Los Angeles
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $1,999,588)

The 2012 National Survey of Victim Service Organizations (NSVSO) involves the development of a statistical system based on victim service organizations (VSOs) and their records on services provided to victims. Despite the tremendous growth and institutionalization of VSOs through federal and state government funding, there continue to be significant gaps in our knowledge about the experiences of victims, victims utilization of services, and outcomes for victims who participate in offered services.

While research efforts have increased our understanding about the utilization of various victim services by specific types of victims, we still lack a comprehensive picture regarding some of the most basic components of victim service efforts, including how victims come to these agencies, how agencies are funded, the total cost of running these agencies, the services that are offered and that are utilized, and a range of outcomes for victims who use these services. Such information is essential to make policy decisions about service for crime victims and to determine whether VSOs are providing relevant services and improving client outcomes.

The goal of this project is to begin to build a research and statistical infrastructure on victims of crime that is commensurate with the service infrastructure built over the last 20 years. This will allow the victims services field the ability to work more effectively in providing assistance to crime victims.

The populations of interest in the proposed data collection are all victims of crime who receive service as a result of their victimization and all organizations and agencies that provide this service. The development work includes the design of an establishment survey to be administered to VSOs and a field test of that design. In addition to collecting data on a range of topics including the type of services provided, characteristics of victims served, cost of services provided, funding sources, and organizational characteristics and policies, it will also incorporate information to support the design of an administrative record collection that could provide more of the victim and case estimates than the aggregate counts from establishment surveys. The specific method used to obtain the data will depend on the largely unknown capabilities of management information systems in VSOs.

The results of the field test will be used to recommend the design of a continuous statistical series on victim service organizations that may employ both establishment surveys and administrative record data. The test data will also be used for substantive reports on the nature and distribution of services to victims of crime and the organizations that provide them.

There are also significant challenges that will need to be addressed during the course of the project, including creating a useful definition of a VSO; identifying the sampling frame for the survey; developing consistent definitions of clients and services across programs; avoiding over-burdening survey respondents with the detailed statistical information required; and dealing with significant concerns about client confidentiality in seeking to acquire client-level program files. Expert review panels representing the range of the victim services community, researchers, and statisticians will provide input and advice regarding these challenging issues. The review panels will also assist in gaining buy-in and participation in the field test from the VSOs. (CA/NCF)

Date Created: September 12, 2012