May-June 2011

Victim Services Board plans training

Suzanne McDaniel

TDCAA Victim Services Director in Austin

The new Victim Services Board convened for the first time in late March and planned workshops for the TDCAA Annual Criminal & Civil Law Update, September 21–23 in Corpus Christi, and the Key Personnel and Victim Services Seminar, November 2–4 in Houston. Every one of your elected board members took time from their busy jobs and lives to attend. Please get to know your regional member and let him or her know what issues are of interest to you, what training topics you would like covered, and what is working for your community so that we can share it with others. Board members are:

    Cyndi Jahn, Chair, San Antonio
    Laney Dickey, Region 1, Littlefield
    Frank Zubia, Region 2, El Paso
    Kathy Dixon, Region 3, Burnet
    Christine Segovia, Region 4, Beeville
    Nancy Ghigna, Region 5, Conroe
    Jalayne Robinson, Region 6, Quitman
    Blanca Burciaga, Region 7, Fort Worth
    Jill McAfee, Region 8, Belton

    The geographically and demographically diverse board agreed overwhelmingly to focus on substantive matter for the workshops for new and seasoned victim assistance coordinators (VACs). Three-hour “core” training will be offered at the two conferences for new coordinators with interaction and assistance from veterans and other agencies.

    With staff and community resources dwindling, coordinators are called upon more frequently to provide an even wider variety of services. Juggling all these duties requires setting priorities and honing management skills. Both seminars will offer hands-on, problem-solving sessions for participants.

      Additionally a legislative update specifically designed for VACs will be provided along with great opportunities to network. For registration information, please access the TDCAA website at www dot tdcaa dot com.

Building core strength

Our Victim Services Board agreed that we need to offer core training at both our Annual and Key Personnel/VAC seminars. They also agreed that we need to offer the best core training available anywhere. Prosecutors, VACs, investigators, and key personnel staff members are in a unique position to know what other folks in prosecutor’s offices need. If they can’t help you, they will know someone who can, to paraphrase our esteemed TDCAA president, Mike Fouts.

    So, we are starting from scratch and designing a new curriculum to be used at our seminars and to train trainers. Your help is integral. Here is your challenge:

  1. What information was most helpful as you started implementing victim rights in your office? Where did you get it?
  2. What did you not know then that you wish you had? What are the five most important things that “seasoned” you would share “just starting” you?
  3. What five things are still the toughest to juggle and how do you juggle them?

Under construction

Need to find something victim assistance-related in a hurry because you are in an office with two phones ringing and prosecutors hunting you down because judges are after them? Did you realize after your computer crashed that someone stole your Code of Criminal Procedure—and that was from two sessions ago?

    Good news! There’s going to be a separate tab on the TDCAA website for all things related to victim services. It’s going to be a one-stop shop to find statutes, journal articles, forms, brochures, resources, and of course, the application for Professional Victim Assistance Coordinator certification. Thanks to you all for the idea! We have been getting calls on locating information and realized it will be more accessible to put it all in one place.

    It’s not too early to start brainstorming, although we will wait until the end of the legislative session to start collecting forms and letters because of possible changes to the statutes. We need your input on the content you would find most useful. Let us know what works for your office and victims. Did you know that Dallas County (hat tip to Chris Jenkins) has a great jury counseling brochure and that Bexar County (hat tip Cyndi Jahn) has a terrific brochure for victims about what happens after a conviction? Exactly! We need to share the wealth of information, and the new web space will be perfect. Help us build it and folks will come.

Victim Rights Week ­photos and stories ­wanted

Please, please send us your captioned photos and stories about what your community did for Crime Victim Rights Week. We would love to share them with everyone.

    Thanks again for doing all you do and as always, please send your suggestions and comments to me at mcdaniel at tdcaa dot com.