The city of San Francisco is the financial and cultural core of a metropolitan area that is home to nearly six million people. San Francisco's distinctive neighborhoods, districts and populations reflect the rich diversity and high energy of a thriving city. Its 795,500 residents are better educated, have a higher per capita income, and are employed in more professional, managerial and administrative positions than the average Californian. San Francisco is one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the world: 35 percent Asian, 17 percent Latino, 8 percent African American, and 40 percent white.
The San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women has identified four populations that are the most vulnerable to victimization and most likely to be underserved by existing programs. These are women of color, immigrant women, lesbian and transsexual women, and young women.
San Francisco police receive 9,500 domestic violence reports annually. The District Attorneys office receives approximately 900 restraining order requests each year. A study by the District Attorney's Family Violence Project has confirmed that family violence is a leading cause of female homicides. From 1991 through 1997, 53 out of 93 solved female homicides were due to domestic violence. In the fiscal year 1997 to 1998, community-based domestic violence programs served 25,000 clients through their crisis lines, 2,800 clients through legal services, conducted over 10,000 counseling sessions, and provided shelter services to nearly 800 women and children.
San Francisco child abuse reports are consistently lower than statewide rates. In 1996, the child abuse report rate for San Francisco was 58 per 1,000 children under age 18, compared to the California rate of 75 per 1,000. In 1999, the city/county child protection agency received 7,543 referrals to its child abuse hotline. Of the hotline calls, 34 percent involved children ages five and younger. Nearly half of all calls concerned African American children (42 percent), followed by Latino children (21 percent) and white children (16 percent).
The Local Approach to Greenbook Implementation for San Francisco County, California
In July 1999, San Francisco's foster care rate of 16.6 children, ages 0-17, was higher than the statewide rate of 11.1 and highest among all Bay area counties. African American children make up 66 percent of San Francisco's foster care placements versus a statewide rate of 33 percent. In 1997, African American children entered the foster care system at a frequency three times higher than the overall city rate, and higher than the combined rates of Asians, Latinos, and whites.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) conducted a pilot study during two screening periods in 1998 and 1999 to gauge the percentage of families affected by both domestic violence and child maltreatment. The results showed that of the 189 screened calls, 55 (29 percent) involved incidents of domestic violence. In November 1999, out of 1791 active cases, with a total of 2,650 children in foster care, an estimated 537 (30 percent) to 1,075 (60 percent) of these families were experiencing both child maltreatment and domestic violence.
In 2000, DHS joined with the Unified Family Court to examine if and how multiple systems communicate with each other and respond to families experiencing both domestic violence and child maltreatment. Of the 136 emergency protective orders issued for families in which the children witnessed the violence, a DHS check of hotline calls, active and closed case files revealed that only ten were cross-referred to child protection services (CPS). During the same time frame, the Court issued 87 temporary restraining orders involving children. Of the total, only two were cross-referred for a CPS screening. The results of this exercise reinforce the need for coordination of systemic responses at all levels of the screening process and at all points of entry.
To address these problems and concerns the city of San Francisco will use the Greenbook's principles and systems-specific recommendations to increase and strengthen training and collaboration among its child welfare agencies, domestic violence providers, batterer intervention programs, and the Unified Family Court. San Francisco will look toward improving policies and procedures within and across systems to better achieve safety and prevent further abuse of battered women and their children.