Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Site Selection


We developed a list of site selection criteria to fulfill the study objectives based on a review of the relevant literature and discussions with HHS and members of the project's advisory group composed of representatives of federal agencies with responsibilities in the area of domestic violence. The selection criteria were divided into two categories--those considered essential and those to be used for obtaining variation across the sites (Exhibit 2.1).

Three characteristics were considered essential for this study. First, we wanted to look at coordination efforts that include agencies from different service systems, rather than a single agency providing comprehensive services (i.e, one-stop shopping approach). Communities in which a larger number of agencies coordinate their efforts are considered to represent more extensive and better-developed examples of a coordinated community response. This approach also has wider applicability than one that relies on a single agency to deliver comprehensive services, since a program of that type does not exist in many communities and would be hard to develop. Second, we wanted the coordination efforts to have been in existence for several years and to be relatively stable at the time of the study. This project is considering the history anddevelopment of a coordinated response, so we thought it was important to focus on communities whose efforts have been underway for some time. Also, because it is difficult to assess the features and outcomes of a coordinated response that is undergoing major changes, we wanted the effort to be relatively stable at the time of the study. Finally, we wanted sites that were able and willing to accommodate a four-day site visit by project staff during the study period.

There are a number of different approaches to coordinating a response to domestic violence. In order to obtain information on different models, the selection criteria included five characteristics for variation across communities. These characteristics were selected based on the overall study objectives and specific HHS interests to obtain variation in: the lead agency, the model of interagency coordination, the location and population served, and the context of the coordination effort. There was also a particular interest in community responses that include health care providers as part of the efforts.

Exhibit 2.1: Site Selection Criteria

Essential Characteristics

  • Cross-Agency Approach

    The coordination must involve multiple agencies (more than two), and represent different service systems (rather than all criminal justice agencies, for example).

  • Stability of the Coordination Efforts

    The efforts must have been underway for some time, and be relatively stable at the time of the visit (i.e., not in a period of flux or major growth or decline).

  • Willingness to Host a Site Visit

    The community must be able and willing to accommodate a four-day site visit by project staff during the study period.

Characteristics for Variation

  • Lead Agency

    Include different models of program leadership which vary by (1) the degree to which leadership is centralized (i.e., leadership for the coordination comes from one partner agency, rather than being shared by several agencies or equally distributed across all partner agencies), and (2) the type of agency that leads the effort.

  • Model of Interagency Coordination

    Include communities that have developed different approaches and use different activities and mechanisms to coordinate their response.

  • Location and Population Served

    Select communities with different geographic and demographic characteristics including: (1) at least one rural community; (2) one or more communities with large minority populations; (3) communities from different regions of the country; and (4) communities that vary in size.

  • Context of the Coordination Effort

    Include communities with different environments for coordination (i.e., those where efforts operate within a context or support system favoring coordination in addition to those which represent initial attempts in a community with little coordination experience).

  • Involvement of Health Care Providers

    Include communities in which health care providers are part of the coordinated response.