Sioux Center, Iowa — A $235,000 grant is making it possible for a victim advocate from a northwest Iowa center for victims of abuse to be available at a northwest Iowa community health center.
Staff with Family Crisis Centers, or “FCC” say that not all crime victims will give them a call or walk up to their doors to receive the help that they need.
So the Sioux Center-based agency is taking its victim advocate services to where people from vulnerable populations may already feel comfortable going for care.
Family Crisis Centers and Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center have forged a partnership to place a full-time victim advocate in the health center – which has successfully reached out to and served many people from underserved populations in northwest Iowa since it opened in 2008.
The project was made possible through a $235,000 federal grant awarded by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office from the Victims of Crime Act or “VOCA” fund.
Shari Kastein, executive director of Family Crisis Centers says that they just felt there were referrals out there that weren’t reaching FCC because of safety, the fear of the unknown or some other reason. She says that they talked about how they could bridge that gap so they could better serve their vulnerable populations in the area. She says that the key thing is to meet them where they are.
Nancy Dykstra, executive director of Promise, says she thinks the project aligns well with the mission and vision of the health center. She says that it was a natural marriage between the two organizations because of what Promise is, who Promise serves and how they serve people. She says that Promise and FCC want to reach vulnerable populations and get them the support that they need at a vulnerable point in their life. She says that Promise and FCC are taking what they do and what they stand for and mixing them to come together on this project.
Kastein said the project stems from an attorney general’s office challenge that asked crime victim organizations to come up with new and innovative solutions to reach unserved and underserved populations. That prompted Kastein to reach out to Dykstra late last year to discuss a partnership and write the joint grant application.
Kastein says their program was the most comprehensive program in the state, so it is really a pilot now for the state. She says they appreciate Promise’s willingness to pilot this program because “the state of Iowa has its eyes on Sioux Center once again for this.”
According to the agreement, Family Crisis Centers will provide the funding via the grant for the personnel and supplies for the program. Promise will provide the office space for the victim advocate and will refer people to her for services. Key questions will be developed for Promise staff to ask patients as a means to identify referrals. The victim advocate, who is trained as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking people, will assume her role at Promise on Monday, August 1st.
After the partnership template is developed and refined at Promise, Kastein said Family Crisis Centers will expand the project to Storm Lake and Carroll during the first year of the grant program. The program then might be eligible for two additional years of funding.
Photo caption:Pictured (left to right): Amy Kleinhesselink, Promise chief financial officer; Kelsey, victim advocate; Shari Kastein, FCC executive director; Nancy Dykstra, Promise executive director; and Alison Hofmeyer, FCC Project Director