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Developing a Sustainable Child and Family Service System after a Community Tragedy: Lessons from Sandy Hook

NCJ Number
Journal of Community Psychology Volume: 45 Issue: 6 Dated: August 2017 Pages: 748-764
Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood; Su-chin S. Olin; Nicole M. Wang; Michele Pollock; Mary Aori; Elizabeth Glaeser; Emma D. Whitmyre; Amy Shorter-Isser; Sarah McCue Horwitz
Date Published
April 2017
16 pages
This article describes a systematic approach to assessing community services for crime victims based on lessons learned from the Sandy Hook shootings.
The Sandy Hook shootings on December 14, 2012, killed 20 students and 6 staff members. Other victims were 12 first-grade students who survived the shooting; approximately 500 more Sandy Hook Elementary School students, teachers, and staff; and traumatized police officers and first responders. The impact of this tragedy led the U.S. Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to declare the entire town of approximately 22,560 residents as the victim. The OVC funded a study with three objectives: 1) describe the type and organization of current victim services; 2) obtain perspectives from both service providers and the families impacted by the tragedy; and 3) use the data generated to improve and sustain high-quality integrated victim services. There was consensus across providers and families about key components of an ideal service system, including developing an infrastructure for coordination and centralization of services and resources to support all families, especially those most impacted by a community tragedy. The importance of community leadership was recognized in sustaining trust and providing a foundation for an ideal service system. Thus, the core components of community strengthening in the aftermath of a tragedy have been identified. The next step is to build them into a coordinated, integrated, and sustainable system ready for mobilization when a community tragedy occurs. 6 tables and 34 references