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Gov. Beshear: Crime Victim Support Professionals Attend First Virtual Kentucky Victim Assistance Academy

Conference hosted Aug. 22-27 expanding victim services in the commonwealth

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 27, 2021) - Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey recognized and thanked 44 new and aspiring victim assistance providers, victim advocates, criminal justice personnel and allied professionals for attending the first virtual Kentucky Victim Assistance Academy (KVAA) held this week. The 15-hour virtual academy, held over a period of five days, uses a multi-disciplinary approach to improve the level of knowledge, skills and consistency of victim services in Kentucky.

“Thank you to all of the individuals who rose to the challenge and chose to attend KVAA to receive additional training and education so that they could better understand a victim's experience and the trauma that follows," said Gov. Beshear. “By working together as one, Kentucky will strengthen the ability of our commonwealth to recognize, respect and respond to the needs and experiences of crime victims."

The purpose of KVAA is to develop a community foundation that is survivor centered, trauma informed, culturally humble and founded on an ethical and anti-oppression framework to support Kentucky's direct service providers. 

“Victims of violent crime have faced horrific events most of us cannot even imagine, and it is imperative that as a state we are equipped with the resources needed to transform the lives of Kentucky's survivors," said Secretary Harvey. “I am honored that the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet has been able to leverage grant funding to host this event for the past several years, as it provides another step forward on our journey to make Kentucky a safer place for all of our families. By working together, we will be able to reduce violent crime and its impact on victims."

The goals of the KVAA are:

  1. Promoting excellence in services to victims;
  2. Creating a community of practice among participants and KVAA alumni; and
  3. Assisting professionals in maintaining and enhancing sustainable practices. 
“Training programs like KVAA are essential given that crime victims experience a complex array of needs, requiring the knowledge and cooperation of many different service providers and professionals," said Director of the Grants Management Division, Dr. Marjorie Stanek.

The KVAA faculty included professionals who are widely recognized as leaders in their fields, many of which are the same professionals who speak at victim services conferences around the country and administer some of the best run programs in the state. In addition to the faculty, KVAA offers a unique mentorship aspect. Each attendee has access to several mentors who are established victim services professionals in Kentucky, which continues to be recognized as the highlight of the KVAA experience. 

There is no charge for attendance at KVAA. All expenses are paid for by grant funding under the federal Victims of Crime Act program, known as VOCA.

Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has awarded more than $37 million in grant funding to victim service agencies across the commonwealth who work to prevent future acts of intimate partner violence and ensure the safety of survivors, while also providing victims access to and choice of domestic violence shelters and resources.

“As your Governor, protecting Kentuckians and promoting justice across our commonwealth is a top priority. These are the same values that guided me when I served as your attorney general and they will continue to be my focus throughout my time in public service," said Gov. Beshear which is why it is imperative that the commonwealth provide victim advocates and service providers with the resources needed to transform the lives of victims of crime.

In July 2021, Gov. Beshear announced that nearly $2 million in grant funding is available to fight violence against women. The grant program supports law enforcement, prosecution, judicial strategies and victim services.

“This federal grant funding application furthers my administration's commitment of providing direct services to victims and survivors of all types of crimes as they walk the path toward healing and recovery," added Gov. Beshear. “I strongly encourage victim advocacy services, law enforcement agencies, local units of governments and other eligible applicants to apply. Let's work together to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking once and for all."

To learn more or to apply for the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution (STOP) Formula Grant Program, click here.

Also in July 2021, Gov. Beshear announced $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Justice grants awarded to the commonwealth to form the Kentucky State Police (KSP) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Investigative Team. To leverage existing investigative resources within the KSP Crime Lab, statewide investigative jurisdiction and existing connections with local law enforcement agencies, three trained investigators and a criminal intelligence analyst moved from the Office of the Attorney General to KSP. The team will continue to focus on investigating and identifying sexual offenders to further assist in the fight to end domestic violence against all Kentuckians.

As part of the ongoing efforts of the Beshear-Coleman administration to protect victims of sexual assault, Gov. Beshear signed HB 310, sponsored by Sen. Morgan McGarvey, of Jefferson County. HB 310 allows a commonwealth attorney to file a petition for an involuntary commitment for violent offenders who are incompetent to stand trial and would not benefit from additional treatment, but who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. By signing this bill, the Governor closed a gap in state law that allowed some defendants to avoid both prison time and mental health treatment.