The Victim Crisis Assistance And Referral Service
The Ontario government is committed to improving access to information and services so that victims of crime receive the support they need.
The Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Service (VCARS) is a community response program providing immediate, on-site assistance to victims of crime or disaster, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With the consent of the victim, police officers and other emergency services (e.g. fire) have several options in ensuring victim support is secured, which include: calling on VCARS to send a team of trained volunteers to provide on-site, immediate short-term assistance to victims, providing a referral to victims for next day support from VCARS or establishing telephone contact between VCARS and victims.
During all interactions, the role of VCARS is to assist victims in identifying the options that may be available to them (family, friends, etc.), providing referrals to community agencies for longer-term assistance and ensuring victims' immediate needs are attended to.
VCARS volunteers receive in-depth and comprehensive training and provide support to victims of crime. Many VCARS sites provide support to victims of traumatic events and disasters such as sudden death, fire and natural disasters. VCARS programs work in partnership with local police and emergency services and are managed by volunteer community boards of directors.
The government funds VCARS programs through the Victims' Justice Fund from surcharges on fines imposed by the courts. With the addition of the two new locations in Lanark County and Leeds & Grenville, there will be a total of 40 VCARS sites across the province.