by Derrick Vander Waal SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – Not all crime victims will give Family Crisis Centers a call or walk up to its 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 personnel discuss logistical details about their new partnership. FCC will place a victim advocate at Promise, starting Aug. 1, in an effort to expand its reach to vulnerable people in northwest Iowa. Pictured are (from left) FCC executive director Shari Kastein, Promise executive director Nancy Dykstra, Promise chief financial officer Amy Kleinhesselink, FCC project director Alison Hofmeyer and FCC victim advocate Kelsey.
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 (VOCA) fund.
“We just felt there were referrals out there that weren’t reaching FCC because of safety, the fear of the unknown or some other reason,” said Shari Kastein, executive director of Family Crisis Centers. “We talked about how we could bridge that gap so we could better serve our vulnerable populations in the area. The key thing is to meet them where they’re at.”
Nancy Dykstra, executive director of Promise, thinks the project aligns well with the mission and vision of the health center.
“It was a natural marriage between the two organizations because of what we are, who we serve and how we serve people,” Dykstra said. “We want to reach vulnerable populations and get them the support that they need at a vulnerable point in their life. We’re taking what we do and what we 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.
“They told us that other victim service/medical center grant applications were filed in the state, but none of them were funded. Ours was the most comprehensive program, so we are really a pilot now for the state,” Kastein said. “We appreciate Promise’s willingness to pilot this program because the state of Iowa has its eyes on Sioux Center once again for this.”
Here’s how the arrangement will work: 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, Aug. 1.
“This was her dream job to help people within that language barrier,” Kastein said. “She will serve all victims of crime. They can be current victims. They can be adult survivors. They can be child survivors. It’s endless whom she will serve. She wants to be able to find a pathway for help and healing for them.”
After the 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.
Family Crisis Centers, which is based in Sioux Center, provides services to children and adults victimized by domestic violence and human trafficking in 17 Iowa counties and operates the statewide Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline 24 hours per day. To learn more, visit www.familycrisiscenters.org.