Recent Achievements of the Domestic Violence Advisory Council
In the past four years, the Advisory Council has developed into an active and constructive team. The most notable recent outcomes of this entity have been:
- The identification of a cost-effective joint reporting system for the State’s funding of domestic violence programs;
- The Domestic Violence Dashboard* and Annual Report; and
- A series of internal policy changes throughout state government, that have improved practice, raised awareness, and enabled cross-agency collaboration in a way that had not been done before.
Addressing How New York State Funds Domestic Violence Services
Between 2007 and 2008, the Advisory Council broke into two subcommittees to tackle two separate but related issues that have long stood in the way of the best possible State response to domestic violence. The first is the way in which domestic violence services are funded. The funding subcommittee, consisting of representatives from state agencies and appointed members, identified the funds they distributed or received and subsequently granted or passed down to domestic violence residential and non-residential services and other service providers such as law enforcement or hospitals. This information was utilized to develop, for the first time, an outline of the complex structure that describes how the State currently allocates over $45 million for those services. Below is one map created by the Council that tracks most direct funding streams for domestic violence.
NYS Program Distribution Funding Streams
This illustration emphasizes that our current funding structure is the opposite of streamlined. Committee members discussed that the ramifications of such a system are heavy reporting burdens on providers and agencies, an inability to compare results across systems, and the complete lack of an overall funding strategy regarding domestic violence services. Such a system is ineffective, and results in some funds being used by grantees for staff dedicated only to filling out reports, rather than serving clients. At a time of fiscal crisis, in particular, such an approach is not acceptable. Therefore, DCJS allocated Recovery Act funds to the analysis of whether a joint reporting system could be developed that would respond equally to the needs of providers, local districts, and state agencies. By mid 2010, a solution had been identified that was supported by a majority of the affected entities. Council members that fund domestic violence programs participated in a planning group to analyze next steps, and are finalizing a road map to achieve implementation of the identified plan. Such an effort required that agencies and providers think and act collaboratively, as parts of one big system rather than as isolated units. Such an approach is unusual in government, but encouraged by the relationships developed in the Council.
"Through even greater collaboration, with non-traditional partners, we can deliver a panoply of unparalleled services to DV victims across a broad spectrum of government, not for profit, and private agencies in order to make New York a model for DV prevention. The Council brings the best and brightest experts in the DV field together to problem solve in an attempt to eradicate this crime, all while providing cutting edge creative solutions for victims and give them the protection they deserve". ~ Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy, III
Measuring the Prevalence of Domestic Violence
Research tells us that domestic violence is more common than most people realize – that 1 in 4 women will experience it in their lifetime, that it is the most common cause of intentional homicide of women in New York State, that it is present in 37% of our child welfare cases, and that the total number of reported victims represent 25 - 40% of the assaults to which our police departments respond. However, given that domestic violence is also extremely underreported, its actual prevalence is hard to measure. Some victims report to law enforcement, others go to hospitals, and some may seek no services at all. Government cannot properly address a problem, or determine the success of its response, if it cannot measure the problem. Therefore, the Council created a data subcommittee that pooled what data was available on this problem from their own data sources. Some of the information we knew existed – the number of Orders of Protection issued per year, for example – but some of the information had never been collected before. It was completely innovative to publish all of this data in one place, giving an entire systems snapshot of domestic violence as we currently know it. This document, the Domestic Violence Dashboard, is in its third year. It is beginning to measure trends, and each year we add new data points that agencies develop specifically for this purpose, or that grow out of domestic violence programs and were implemented due to work on the Council. The Dashboard has been used to advance policy discussions amongst the legislature, Chamber, state agencies and the service provider community. This data-driven document is complimented by the Annual Report which memorializes all of the efforts each Council member agency has taken on the issue of domestic violence – never before consolidated, the report grows each year as more agencies develop ways to address domestic violence.
Internal Agency Policy Changes Initiated out of Council Meetings
One goal of the Annual Report is to ensure that we capture all of the policy changes that agencies develop alone or in collaboration as a result of the work we do as a group. While the totality of those achievements is outlined in the Annual Report**, this brief list indicates the breadth of the Council’s reach:
- Some members have added domestic violence status to their EEOC statement as part of all agency hiring decisions;
- OASAS has incorporated, as part of the required data that substance abuse programs report to OASAS as clients are discharged, whether or not during the course of substance abuse treatment an individual was identified as a domestic violence victim or perpetrator;
- The statewide Shine the Light campaign had almost 300 organizational participants this year, in large part due to Council-members involvement;
- Statewide dissemination of the teen dating violence campaign “This isn’t Love” to all high schools and middle schools and OMH youth programs was made possible through relationships fostered at the Council.
"The work of the advisory council to streamline funding and reporting systems helps agencies like Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County to focus more effectively on helping victims of abuse and creating social change to end intimate partner violence in our communities." ~Maggie Fronk, Executive Director Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County