Crime Victim Service Providers’ Needs and Barriers: Rurality and “High Need”

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The crime victims’ rights movement has led to the development of advocacy, rights, and services for crime victims. A growing body of research has examined victim service provision using victim/client samples and complementary research has utilized service provider samples. The latter have focused on crime victim service providers’ (VSPs) perceptions regarding clients’ needs and barriers, as well as perceptions of service provision, needs, and barriers pertaining to their agency’s operations. Although relatively small, the body of provider-focused victim services research has commonly considered the influence of rurality on service provision. The present study adds to this body of research by examining reported needs and barriers of VSPs (N = 94) in a Mountain West state, considering the influence of rurality and concentrated need. Three research questions informed the descriptive analyses: (a) What are the most commonly identified needs and barriers for providers in the state? (b) Are there differences in identified needs and barriers between rural and urban providers? (c) Do certain agencies report more needs and barriers than others, and if so, what are the differences? Findings indicate that many of the needs and barriers identified by VSPs mirror those identified by previous research and that agencies serving rural communities report significantly more needed services than those who do not serve rural communities. Furthermore, approximately 30% of the sample was designated as “high need” due to reported needs and/or barriers exceeding the average of the rest of the sample. The high-need agencies were not exclusively rural in terms of agency location or population served. The potential nuances of rurality’s influence on VSPs in an overwhelmingly rural state are discussed.