Recovery Checklist

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Recovery Checklist

The term “recovery” is used to describe a phase that victims experience in the aftermath of an incident of mass violence or terrorism. (Although injured victims may see themselves as working on recovery, families of deceased victims may not describe their transition/adjustment to life without their loved ones as recovery.)

For the purposes of the toolkit, the recovery phase encompasses the transitional phase to early recovery, and beyond, and may continue for months or years as survivors reach a “new normal.” The goal in the recovery phase is for the primary agencies to assist victims, first responders, and communities affected by an incident to recover effectively. The protocols they follow include Committee Meeting, Criminal Justice System: Victim Support, Community Resiliency, Volunteer Management, Donation Management, and Emergency Funding Assistance. An initial needs assessment of the overall impact of the event on the community, victims, survivors, and family members is necessary to identify the needs of the community as a whole and may be critical to the development of local, state, national, and federal emergency funding assistance applications. The initial needs assessment should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to track ongoing, emerging, and unanticipated needs of the community.

The Recovery Checklist can be downloaded and tailored to fit the needs of your community.

Committee Meeting Protocol (for primary agencies)

Developing a meeting protocol will ensure that committee meetings are strategic and inclusive and will help ensure timely and effective responses if an event were to occur.

Key issues to consider:

Agency Responsible/Partner Name

Current Status

Continue to convene the primary agencies involved in the recovery process.

If the event involves victims from multiple jurisdictions, states, or countries, incorporate key state government officials, service providers, and the state Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) administrators into the meetings and recovery plans.

OVC’s International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program (ITVERP) reimburses the expenses of eligible direct victims of acts of international terrorism that occur outside the United States for expenses associated with that victimization.

Identify unmet needs and unique issues in the community that need to be addressed, such as:

  • Medical care.

  • Long-term mental health services.

  • Comprehensive case management.

  • Legal services.

  • Financial assistance (e.g., scholarship funds).

  • Anniversaries and memorials.

Hold a debriefing with the committee to assess the victim assistance response plan and modify it as necessary. Capture action items and lessons learned.

See, e.g., the After-Action Report/Improvement Plan template (Word document), available from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Exercise Program.

Maintain a contact list, which is critical for collecting, maintaining, and tracking contact information, resources, and roles and responsibilities for committee members. Regularly update and distribute the list, which should include contact information for committee members and their available resources.

See, e.g., Support Agencies Contact Information, Public Health - Seattle & King County; the Contact List Template (in this toolkit).

Criminal Justice System: Victim Support Protocol

As the case moves through the criminal justice system, victims and family members will need help with the return of personal effects, victim impact statements, media management, support during trials (e.g., financial assistance, housing, transportation), and access to ongoing notifications regarding the investigation and matters involving prosecution, adjudication, sentencing, and prisoner status.

Key issues to consider:

Agency Responsible/Partner Name

Current Status

If the event involves victims from multiple jurisdictions, states, or countries, incorporate key state government officials into the process.

Coordinate with the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement officials to develop a shared definition of “victim” in relation to the event.

Be aware that these incidents may involve various justice systems: juvenile, criminal, military, tribal, and federal. These systems have different rules and procedures, and victim support programs may look very different for each system.

Prepare and distribute a fact sheet that outlines the criminal justice system for victims.

Criminal justice-based victim services personnel support victims and family members during the interview process.

Provide ongoing notifications regarding criminal case investigations, prosecution, adjudication, and prisoner status (post-conviction/corrections victim services). Consider using a password-protected link on the Web site, or a password-protected Web site, with information about the trial process that only survivors can access.

Provide victims and family members with access to and updates on incident hearings, criminal justice proceedings, and victims’ rights. In some cases, you may need to set up an auxiliary facility or waiting room for victims, family members, and witnesses who cannot be accommodated in the courtroom or due to a change of venue (see the Safe Haven model, as described below).

Provide victim support during trials (e.g., legal and financial assistance, housing, transportation) and assist with victim impact statements and media management.


    • Safe Haven model, as described in Providing Services to Victims Viewing a Trial at Multiple Locations and Responding to Terrorism Victims: Oklahoma City and Beyond.

  • Boston Bar Association’s Marathon Monday Project

Consider providing security (law enforcement or private) to accompany survivors and family members to and from the courthouse and the auxiliary facility, Safe Haven location, victim waiting/hospitality room, or parking lot.

See the Criminal Justice System Flowchart on the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Web site.

Community Resiliency Protocol

The Family Assistance Center (FAC) will typically transition into a Community Resiliency Center (CRC) that will continue to provide ongoing services and assistance to victims, family members, first responders, and community members. The FAC may transition to a CRC within 1 week or up to 3 or more months after the event, depending on the nature and scope of the event.

Key issues to consider:

Agency Responsible/Partner Name

Current Status

Transition the FAC to a CRC anywhere from 1 week to 3 or more months after an incident occurs, depending on the incident’s nature and scope. The CRC should continue to provide referrals for critical services to victims and family members.


  • Aurora Strong Resilience Center, Colorado

  • Resiliency Center of Newtown, Connecticut

It is important to note that surviving victims and families of deceased victims may not be comfortable being included with the broader community in terms of impact and services. CRC staff and volunteers should be aware that that not all direct victims will want to participate.

Identify special populations in your area who may need specialized resources.

Special populations to consider:

Children and youth

First responders

Tribal communities

Elder populations

Individuals with disabilities or individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing

Individuals with limited English proficiency

High-risk populations

LGBTQ populations (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer)

Military veterans

Underserved populations

Undocumented populations

Urban, rural, suburban communities

Culturally diverse communities

Other populations?

Continue to assign victim services case managers to victims and their families (including hospitalized victims and those who are not present).

See Sample Victim Liaison Job Description (in this toolkit).

Engage a holistic approach, which includes diverse faith or spiritual healing practices, to support survivors and surviving family members in the long term. Do remember, however, that not all victims are religious or spiritual. Ensure that the emotional and psychological needs of the community are met by providing mental health support, counseling, screening, and treatment. Address the potential for increased risk of substance, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.


  • Mental Health and Mass Violence: Evidence-Based Early Psychological Intervention for Victims/Survivors of Mass Violence

  • International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc.

  • Coping After Terrorism for Injured Survivors

Ensure that law enforcement; systems-based, faith-based, and nonprofit victim service providers; first responders; prosecutors; medical service providers; mental health providers; medical examiners; funeral directors; media professionals; and other community leaders receive the necessary support and services to address symptoms of secondary/vicarious trauma.

See Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project’s Web site for more information about secondary/vicarious trauma.

In coordination with law enforcement officials and the prosecutor’s office, provide ongoing case/investigation status briefings.

Organize memorial events (guided visits to the scene of the event, vigils, interfaith or spiritual memorial services), which can be very meaningful to transitioning families and surviving victims. Consider working with the Red Cross and local agencies, and include family members and others with close associations to the event in the planning process.

See Mass Fatality Incident Family Assistance Operations—Recommended Strategies for Local and State Agencies, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)/FBI.


Communities have options as to how they memorialize the event. Discuss the community’s needs, its desire for annual memorial services, and the potential impacts of media coverage. Determine the needs and desires of victims versus those of the community. Be aware that a spontaneous memorial event could emerge in the community, even if a formal, organized memorial service is not planned. A memorial plan may not preclude a spontaneous event.

Organize annual memorial events and activities (e.g., guided visits to the scene of event, vigils, interfaith/spiritual memorial services).

If appropriate, plan, create, and provide support for a permanent public memorial.


  • Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation

  • 9/11 Memorial Fund

Volunteer Management Protocol

A process needs to be developed for training volunteers in advance of an event and for supervising, assigning, and assisting them during the response and recovery phases. Spontaneous volunteers should also be addressed.

Key issues to consider:

Agency Responsible/Partner Name

Current Status

Continue to screen and deploy spontaneous volunteers during the recovery phase.


  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

  • American Red Cross

Donation Management Protocol (Funds, Good, and Services)

Donation management is a complex process that can be managed effectively if planned for in advance of an event. Donation management and disbursement can be one of the most challenging aspects of response and recovery. Not everyone in the community will agree on the final donation management strategy, and you must keep the entire community’s needs in mind. Be aware that there may be a perceived inequity of compensation between victims of mass violence and terrorism and victims of other types of crimes.

Key issues to consider:

Agency Responsible/Partner Name

Current Status


Continue to coordinate with the nonprofit organization that serves as a centralized collection and disbursement entity for monetary donations.

Let the public know where to send donations and how their donations will be used. Consider leveraging technology (e.g., social media, texting) and the media to assist in providing information to the public on the process for making donations.

Use the database developed during the planning phase to help collect, track, disburse, and acknowledge monetary donations.

Coordinate the funding disbursement process with the victim advocates (e.g., liaison, navigator) who will be assigned to victims and family members.

Manage specific donor requests.

The initial needs assessment should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to track ongoing, emerging, and any unanticipated needs of the community. Emerging and unanticipated needs need to be addressed as they surface to ensure that victims receive the necessary services.


  • The One Fund (Boston, Massachusetts)

  • September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

  • Oklahoma City Disaster Relief Fund

  • National Compassion Fund

Goods and Services

Use the database developed during the planning phase to help collect, track, disburse, and acknowledge donations of goods and services.

Store and manage donated goods in a local facility/warehouse.

Let the public know where to send and bring donations (e.g., supplies, goods, perishable items) and how their donations will be used. Consider leveraging technology and the media to collect donations (e.g., social media, texting).

If you no longer need donations, consider modifying your communications strategy to direct the public to donate to a local charitable organization in honor of crime victims.

Coordinate with victim advocates to disburse goods and services.

Coordinate with victims, victim advocates, and other relevant personnel regarding the disposal of donated items not used but intended for victims or victim support.

Emergency Funding Assistance Protocol

After an event, community leaders will need to identify, review, and apply for direct financial assistance for individual victims, family members, local entities (businesses and organizations), and city, county, and state jurisdictions to meet victims’ needs during recovery.

Key issues to consider:

Agency Responsible/Partner Name

Current Status

Develop/Implement your strategy for delivering emergency funding assistance to victims. State VOCA Compensation and Assistance Administrators should coordinate with all other emergency assistance providers in the state to avoid duplication of services.


  • National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators

  • National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards

Collaborate with grant writers to prepare federal, state, and local grant submissions. To expedite the funding request process, have local organizations follow a standard application and reporting process—including required performance measures—to apply for emergency funding from state and federal agencies.

See the Foundation Center. This is a site that discusses philanthropy.

Identify a primary agency to conduct the needs assessment and to coordinate with the state VOCA administrators and grant writers.

Review best practices in advance of conducting a needs assessment of the event’s overall impact on the community, victims, survivors, and family members, and review and update it regularly. A needs assessment identifies the needs of the community as a whole and may be critical to the success of your applications for emergency funding assistance.

See the Needs Assessment Report Template (in this toolkit).

If your community has not already done so, review the state VOCA Compensation Program guidelines. Review existing state statutes related to workers’ and victims’ compensation. Consider amending existing statutes to address funding or service gaps to ensure timely and effective responses to victim needs.


  • VOCA Victim Compensation Grant Program Guidelines

  • TEX CR. CODE ANN. § 56.54 : Texas Statutes - Article 56.54: FUNDS, Texas Statute on Crime Victim Compensation for Mass Casualty Victims (Example)

Review the criteria and apply for appropriate federal emergency funding.


  • Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP). OVC’s AEAP provides federal funds for crisis response, consequence management, criminal justice support, crime victim compensation, and training and technical assistance in the aftermath of an incident. Individuals and foreign governments are not eligible to apply for and receive AEAP funding.

  • Bureau of Justice Assistance Grants

  • FEMA grants. This Web page provides information about disaster assistance and other grant opportunities.

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grants

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security financial assistance. This Web page describes financial assistance opportunities.

  • Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools, U.S. Department of Education

Identify and apply for emergency funding available through your local, county, or state/territory government. Depending on the nature and scope of the incident, certain declarations of a state of emergency may be in place. Discuss the importance of identifying declarations, understanding their impact on FEMA funding, and addressing any gaps in support of state leaders applying for assistance.

Review and apply for additional available funding through local, state, and national nonprofit organizations and corporations (e.g., United Way, Red Cross).

Evaluate the recovery process to ensure that the services match the needs and that the funds are disbursed appropriately.

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