BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Source: PBC Victim Services) — Palm Beach County Victim Services is partnering with the Florida State University (FSU) College of Criminology and Criminal Justice (College) to address the emotional, psychological, physical and financial aftermath associated with DUI/impaired driving-related deaths. The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crime has awarded a grant called Vision 21: Multidisciplinary Responses to Families in Complex Homicide Cases to the county’s Victim Services Division. Palm Beach County was the only site in the nation selected to address cases of DUI-related death.
Through the Vision 21 grant, Victim Services will be collaborating with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Mothers Against Drunk Driving to implement promising multidisciplinary responses and evidenced-based practices to address the needs of families and communities throughout complex homicide cases.
The goal is to develop a comprehensive response for DUI survivors and family members to help bridge their often unmet and complex needs with available community resources. Impaired driving crashes are often treated initially as accidents instead of crimes. This hinders the appropriate delivery of victim services, or in some cases may lead to the absence of services altogether.
In the immediate aftermath, the family must take care of normal tasks related to a death, then navigate through the complexities of the investigation and cope with their own physical and emotional responses to the trauma. Victim Services will seek to connect victims and their families to evidence-based, trauma-informed services, including crisis counseling on scene, court accompaniment, grief counseling, advocacy, and financial recovery assistance.
“Far too often, important services go unused by victims of drunk driving and their families,” said Victim Services Director Nicole Bishop. “We hope that through this project we can find better and more efficient ways to connect available services with the people that need them.”
In 2014, the most recent year with data available, there were 685 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Florida, which was 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths. Only a small fraction of the families of victims and surviving victims of DUIs used the services available by the division’s partners.
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