Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Identifying the Sites


After developing the selection criteria, we compiled a list of potential sites using information from Family Violence: State-of-the-Art Court Programs (National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges, 1992) and consultation with knowledgeable people in the field. The publication provided program descriptions and contact information for model court programs dealing with family violence, which often include joint efforts with criminal justice agencies or domestic violence service providers. We also consulted HHS, the advisory group, and several domestic violence experts in completing this list. Based on these resources, we assembled an initial list of 16 different sites for possible inclusion in the study.

We conducted a phone interview with a key person in each site to assess how well the community's efforts met the various selection criteria. The sites were then grouped according to their strength as candidates, and final sites were chosen in consultation with HHS and members of the federal advisory group.

Six sites were selected for in-depth study: Baltimore, Maryland; Kansas City, Missouri; Carlton County and Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota; San Diego and San Francisco, California. Initially, Duluth, Minnesota had been selected as one of the study communities. However, since the Duluth model has been extensively studied, we decided to include two rural communities in Northern Minnesota (Carlton and Northern St. Louis Counties) whose response to domestic violence has been influenced by the Duluth model. All of the sites selected have established links between criminal justice agencies and service providers in the community and, in every site, the coordination effort has been in existence for at least five years (in some cases, for more than a decade).

The selected sites provide a number of interesting examples of coordination efforts and contexts for the coordinated response. Baltimore is a large urban area with a significant African American population. It reflects a model that is dominated by one primary domestic violence service provider, the House of Ruth, which provides comprehensive services for battered women. There are also several examples of health care responses in Baltimore.

Kansas City does not have a long tradition of interagency collaboration, but the community has made a number of significant changes in the criminal justice system, particularly in the courts. The city does not have a longstanding coordinating committee for domestic violence, but it has strong leadership on the issue from within the criminal justice system. Advocates are currently less active in Kansas City, although they heavily influenced the earlier changes in the criminal justice system. Two hospitals in Kansas City have recently developed on-site programs for battered women.

Carlton and Northern St. Louis Counties provide examples of coordination in rural communities. Northern St. Louis County has a service network that has been in place and evolved since 1978. Carlton County includes the Fond du Lac Indian reservation and has a sizable Native American population.

San Diego County has a well-developed coordinating council and several examples of interagency collaboration including a joint program between probation and child protection. The Children's Hospital operates the Family Violence Program which provides primary prevention and intervention services for battered women and their children.

San Francisco has a long history of interagency collaboration on a number of issues including domestic violence. Advocacy efforts are particularly strong and the community features several coordinating committees with different objectives. The population is very diverse with large numbers of immigrants, non-English speaking persons and gays and lesbians. The city also was selected because of recent initiatives in the health care community.