Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Service Coordination

10/01/1996

Many of the shelters in Kansas City provide a range of services including counseling, outreach, support groups. One shelter also operates an inpatient substance abuse program for battered women, which was started with money from the portion of Kansas City's sales tax designated for substance abuse treatment and other drug-related activities. Since the program is not state-funded, it did not have to meet state licensing requirements, but it does have a state- certified substance abuse counselor on staff. Other shelters in the community often refer clients who need substance abuse services to this particular shelter.

Some shelters in the Kansas City area have also developed links with a community substance abuse agency. For example, one shelter works closely with a substance abuse provider who comes to the shelter to screen and interview clients for substance abuse problems. These two agencies have ongoing communication about the progress of individual cases, and they meet weekly to discuss cases and to provide informal support to each other.

Transitional housing is another area that has been somewhat integrated with domestic violence services. A couple of shelters operate their own transitional housing programs which rent apartments to clients. The waiting lists for these programs vary widely. Another shelter has established a close relationship with a housing project manager who will prioritize shelter clients for services based on an informal understanding between the two agencies.

There are some tensions between domestic violence service providers and mental health and substance abuse service providers in the community. Some domestic violence service providers felt that there was a lack of understanding of domestic violence within the mental health and substance abuse fields. Other agencies had previously questioned the shelters' need for money to provide mental health and substance abuse services. One person felt this attitude was due to the fact that domestic violence services are relatively new and are not as developed as the mental health and substance abuse fields. Shelters also reported problems with child protective service agencies who, they felt, do not understand domestic violence and often blame the victim.