Greenbook Project Takes Root in Connecticut Without Federal Grant
(Excerpted from the Greenbook Newsletter)
In addition to the six sites which received federal Greenbook grants to conduct three-year pilot projects, a number of similar projects were enacted around the country without the direct support of federal Greenbook funding. One such effort in Connecticut made important strides toward changing the way services are delivered in domestic violence and child maltreatment cases.
The "Children and Domestic Violence" project is conducted under the auspices of the state government's Office of Policy and Management (OPM), the budget and planning arm of the executive branch. Cobbling together funding from several federal and state sources, arrest-policy funding in particular, the project was instrumental to a number of initiatives in the state.
"Our goal is to learn how we can improve the way we handle these cases to allow for better safety for women and children," said Melanie Kerr, Planning Specialist for OPM and the leader of the Greenbook effort. "We've got all the agency people working together very cooperatively, and we've built a good level of trust" among the project's various public and private stakeholders.
The Connecticut Initiative operated along three tracks. First, Bridgeport's Center for Women and Families conducted a grassroots component, receiving funding to expand its ongoing family violence outreach program.
The second Greenbook component involved a state level protocol assessment workgroup focused on domestic violence, with representatives from a variety of state agencies. The state government granted funds to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence to hire staff to conduct the effort.
Third, the Connecticut Initiative developed a Greenbook Committee comprised of representatives from each of the affected communities - the judicial branch, domestic violence organizations, victims' advocates from local programs, child welfare representatives and others. The group received technical assistance funding from the state courts and from the Department of Children and Families, and has been meeting regularly for nearly two years.
"Down the road," said Kerr, "we expect that what we learn from the three components will help chart a course for reforms. It's very helpful, for example, to have the grassroots component in Bridgeport, because their experiences with the problems we're facing are very day-to-day. That information is critical to assessing what works and what doesn't. In addition to learning a lot about what we're already doing well, or maybe not so well here in Connecticut, we're also developing relationships that extend beyond our own communities."
The three-pronged approach might seem to invite overlap, but Greenbook Committee member Marilou Giovanucci, Manager for Court Services Officer Programs in the state's Court Operations branch, indicated otherwise. "It's working nicely. The Greenbook Committee is grassroots focused, with particular attention to issues of child welfare, and court and provider responses to children and families. The protocol workgroup is more systemic, cutting across courts and systems, to try to identify where it can be helpful in addressing systemic issues identified by the Greenbook project." She said the effort was making a difference. "I have to say, over the years I've worked in a lot of projects related to domestic violence. I really see a lot of enthusiasm in this group. It's a very cohesive group whose members have checked their issues at the door. Everyone recognizes that this is too important to let this go. We really have to go as one."
The EVOLVE Curriculum
The development of the EVOLVE curriculum was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Violence Against Women Office. A guiding principle of the curriculum is the desire to make it culturally appropriate for offenders of different ethnicities and social classes, and with varying employment and citizenship status. "The underlying theme of the curriculum is to challenge offenders, in this case men, to consider what kind of person they want to be," says Sarah Wilson, who led the EVOLVE curriculum effort from her position of Program Manager in the Family Services office of Connecticut's Court Support Services Division. The curriculum is intended to challenge men to consider what is really involved in safe interaction with their children, and with the children's mothers. Says Wilson: "Most of the men really want to be good fathers and be remembered as a role model. The skills-building curriculum challenges them to explore what that means in the context of their violence against the child's mother, their responsibility to their children and their behavior choices."Top of page
North Carolina's Child Well-Being and Domestic Violence Task Force
North Carolina's Child Well-Being and Domestic Violence Task Force, chaired by the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, began a 10-month planning process in February 2002. The Task Force's mission was "to design a strategy for North Carolina to adopt policies and practice recommendations and an implementation plan that maximizes the safety of all family members, empowers victims, and holds perpetrators of domestic violence and child maltreatment accountable." Subcommittees of the Task Force were charged with developing specific recommendations to improve procedures and policies in the state's courts and law enforcement agencies; child protective services; and community-based service organizations. An additional subcommittee explored funding alternatives for implementation of the recommendations. In all, some 80 agencies and organizations participated in the planning process, which produced in November 2002 a comprehensive set of recommendations for statewide implementation.Top of page
Texas Joint Task Force
The Texas Council on Family Violence, the Texas Department of Human Services, and the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (PRS) spearheaded "Greenbook" efforts in Texas. Council staff and state agency officials collaborated on a proposed memorandum of understanding between local domestic violence shelters and regional Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services offices. Each shelter and local PRS office designated staff to act as a liaison to build local relationships and develop local plans for implementing a cross-training initiative in early 2003. The memorandum also includes provisions aimed at improving case-screening, reporting and referral practices, and confidentiality.Top of page
West Virginia's Domestic Violence/Child Victimization Study and Policy Workgroup
The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence initiated the Domestic Violence/Child Victimization Study and Policy Workgroup in 2001 to study the collective response of state agencies and private organizations to instances where domestic violence coincides with child abuse or maltreatment. The Workgroup brought together representatives from the domestic violence network, child protective services, courts and others. The Workgroup began by reviewing national "Greenbook" recommendations, and identifying the shared values of the participants. In October 2002 the Workgroup issued a set of first-phase recommendations, with a second set planned for 2004. The recommendations became the basis for statewide action to develop or improve state mandates, policies and practices.Top of page
Salt Lake City and County, Utah's OJP Collaboration Project
Salt Lake's Office of Justice Programs Collaboration Project was a joint effort of several nonprofit and government agencies at the city, county and state levels, all concerned with domestic violence and child abuse. The Project's mission was to "create sustainable collaborative initiatives" that encouraged timely and effective interventions in cases where domestic violence and child maltreatment coincided. Grant staff brought together key frontline workers, agency directors and elected officials to form the Salt Lake Area Safe At Home Coalition (SLASAHC). The SLASAHC examines new and innovative ways to effect systemic changes. With federal Justice Department funding from the Office of Justice Programs and the Office on Violence Against Women, the project has initiated or participated in a variety of projects in the Salt Lake area on data-collection and dissemination, cross-training among agencies, development of a dedicated domestic violence court, creation of a new screening and assessment tool, as well as several efforts aimed at better coordination of services.Top of page
Western Massachusetts' Franklin/Hampshire Greenbook Collaborative
The Franklin/Hampshire Greenbook Collaborative was a two-county project in Western Massachusetts funded through the state Department of Social Services (DSS) Domestic Violence Unit. Project partners included: the juvenile court; child protection and regional legal departments of DSS; two battered women's programs; a batterer intervention program; three community residents, including one adult survivor of domestic violence, one childhood survivor of domestic violence and a former perpetrator of domestic violence; a family counseling and supervised visitation center; and a court-appointed child advocate program. Many of the partners have been meeting since the summer of 2000; a project director was hired in March 2002. The Collaborative's mission was to develop integrated systems and community responses to meet the needs of families experiencing domestic violence and child maltreatment, with the safety of family members the highest priority. The Collaborative conducted a strategic planning process that included gathering information from families about their experiences in seeking assistance from neighbors, community resources, faith communities and elsewhere, as well as their experiences with the systems involved in the project. Staff of the community services agencies and organizations were also surveyed about barriers to their effectiveness in working with families within their own systems as well as obstacles to effective collaboration with other systems. The resulting information was used to develop and implement an action plan for the project. Staff at partner agencies also worked on ways to facilitate collaboration on current cases in a variety of forums, including multi-disciplinary assessment teams and case-review meetings.Top of page
Safe from the Start
Inspired by the Greenbook, the "Safe from the Start" project in Johnson County, Kansas works to address the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child maltreatment in the state's second largest county. Local leaders included Judge Allen Slater of the 10th District court of Johnson County; Mary Cole, social service chief for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation services; Sharon Katz, executive director of Safehome, a private shelter for battered women and victims of sexual assault; and Risë Haneberg, director of court services for the 10th Judicial District Court. The project was a finalist for federal funding, but ultimately did not receive a grant. Instead, it obtained local funding and moved ahead as a collaborative effort. Leaders asked United Community Services (UCS) of Johnson County, the area's human service research and planning agency, to serve as the facilitator for the project, and to help move Safe from the Start forward.
UCS moved immediately to bring together a broad group of stakeholders in the county, and together that group developed six guiding principles for the effort: 1) Keeping victims safe; 2) Improving communication among the various family-serving systems; 3) Providing support to children who witness domestic violence without necessarily triggering the need to open a child protection case; 4) Service planning by both child protection and domestic violence services that identifies new and different responses to better serve victims; 5) Providing interventions for perpetrators should hold them accountable for stopping their violent and threatening behavior and that address the well-being of child and adult victims; 6) Ensuring that service providers obtain new knowledge and practice skills to serve families from diverse backgrounds.
Safe from the Start had two significant first-year accomplishments. First it developed a screening tool to be used by both child welfare and domestic violence providers to determine if child maltreatment and abuse were occurring in the same family. Second, it offered a series of all-day training sessions for human service, law enforcement and court officials on the relationship between domestic violence and child maltreatment.
Plans for the future include increased efforts to hold perpetrators accountable and to improve rehabilitation services for them; ongoing dialogues with law enforcement officials about the complexities of family violence; and identification of strategic steps for creating a strong, integrated community service system for families.Top of page