Montana Victim Advocate Academy to Offer Five-Day Training at UM

June 04, 2014

MISSOULA – The Institute of Educational Research and Service, a specialty unit of the University of Montana Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences, will host a victim advocate training Sunday through Friday, June 15-20, at UM.

The Basic Academy is for all victim advocates working for governmental or nonprofit agencies. It provides essential victim advocate training across a range of crimes and systems. The intensive training will provide basic knowledge and skills for individuals with less than three years of experience in the field of victim services.

The course is 40 hours over five days and costs $350 to attend. Register online at http://iers.umt.edu/Montana_Victim_Advocate_Academy/About%20the%20Academy.php.

The curriculum is based on the National Victim Assistance Academy and includes Montana-specific content. Participants will gain knowledge and skills to better serve victims and survivors of crime. IERS Director Rick van den Pol notes the great need for such training.

“For 57 years, IERS has served as a bridge between UM and communities across our state,” he said. “The inaugural offering of the Montana Victim Advocate Academy marks a new professional education offering for advocates statewide.”

In 1995, the Office of Victims of Crime funded the development of a National Victim Assistance Academy to deliver a blend of education and skills-based training through a state-of-the-art curriculum delivered to victim service providers and allied professionals at university campuses across the country.

Using the NVAA as a framework, OVC envisioned that the State Victim Advocate Academies would operate in partnership with academic institutions to develop a comprehensive, fundamental, academic-based and state-specific course of study in victims’ rights and services to meet the entry-level educational and training needs of victim service providers, victim advocates and allied personnel working with victims of crime.

“By adapting the NVAA curriculum to meet the unique needs of Montanans, we will be able to provide a common core of proven advocacy strategies,” van den Pol said. “The faculty of the Montana Academy brings unique expertise to help adapt the national curriculum to meet our cultural, geographic and economic needs.”

Montana’s sparsely populated counties contrast with seven urban centers and the full range of urban challenges. The state also is home to seven Indian reservations, sovereign nations that provide a complex mix of federal, state and tribal jurisdictions. According to John Frederikson, director of the Montana Victim Advocate Academy, the problem to be addressed is that Montana has no centralized training or training criteria for victim advocates.

“For the first time, Montana victim advocates have access to local comprehensive training provided by the best practitioners in the field,” Frederikson said. “The national curriculum provided by the OVC has been modified for the unique needs and situations affecting victim advocacy in Montana. I am exceedingly pleased with the quality and competence of the faculty as well as their excitement in providing this level of training to Montana’s victim advocates.”

The Montana Victims Advocate Academy was funded in 2012 with the purpose of providing research-based, high-quality and sustainable training for victim advocates representing 135 different agencies across the state.

“New-to-the-field advocates will be able to network, experience common learning around victim services and promote communication within the field,” said Nancy Berg, MVAA program coordinator. “We hope the academy will create a better-supported advocacy network that allows better assistance for victims of crime.”

For more information on MVAA or IERS, visit http://iers.umt.edu/ or call 406-243-4973.

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Contact: Nancy Berg, project coordinator, Institute of Educational Research and Service, 406-243-4973, nancy.berg@mso.umt.edu.