Published: July, 2011| Denise St. Clair, Edited by Stephanie Avalon

The Ohio IPV Collaborative works to build Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) competency within child protective services agencies and fosters enhanced partnerships among child welfare, courts, DV/IPV service providers and other critical stakeholders, consistent with several recommendations in the Greenbook, a landmark 1999 publication. The Greenbook set forth guiding principles and sixty-three recommendations from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Linking children’s safety to the safety of their mothers, the late Susan Schechter coordinated and consulted with Advocacy for Women and Kids in Emergencies (AWAKE) at Children's Hospital in Boston, starting in the mid 80s.

Schechter and Jeffrey Edleson later co-authored “Effective Intervention in Woman Battering and Child Maltreatment Cases: Guidelines for Policy and Practice,” a 1999 publication widely referred to as The Greenbook. Keeping children in the care of their non-offending parent remained a cornerstone recommendation of the Greenbook. In Ohio, interest and efforts to facilitate the adoption of the recommendations had varying levels of momentum over the past decade.

Differential Response (aka Alternative Response) has emerged as an expanded continuum of child protection responses. The model recognizes that child protective service agencies receive broad variations in incoming reports and that an investigative response is not always the most productive for the family or most beneficial for the child. It differs from traditional responses in that it is more attuned to child and family strengths and their self-articulated needs. Most significantly, services are provided without the traditional requirement of a formal disposition (substantiated or unsubstantiated) of maltreatment or risk for maltreatment. Currently, a three year evaluation of Ohio’s Differential Response is being conducted by the Human Services Research Institute.

The model was nearly an exact match to the Greenbook’s fourth recommendation. The acceptance of this paradigm shift revived old partnerships and invited new ones between the child protection system, the courts and the domestic violence services community. It was the sites (child protection agencies) that were piloting Differential Response that requested additional training and technical assistance for applying the approach in cases of suspected domestic violence.

With that, the state agencies, stakeholders and contractors teamed up to deliver. The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy (NCALP) had long been associated with the work of the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Subcommittee, dating back to the original research for practice and policy reforms. Casey Family Programs provided the State of Ohio funding for contracting with NCALP to facilitate the development of the Ohio Intimate Partner Violence Collaborative. ODVN was able to bring their years of expertise to the newly formed Collaborative due to the interest and investment of the HealthPath Foundation of Ohio.

Early in the project, teams from the pilot sites were provided scholarships to attend a two-day family violence prevention conference convened by ODVN.

A survey conducted of the 10 pilot sites measured attitudes and practices regarding domestic violence as well as the perceived availability, effectiveness and coordination of local services.

In response to strong interest from the Differential Response pilot sites, the Ohio IPV Collaborative was developed to be a multi-faceted initiative to build IPV competency within child protective services agencies and foster enhanced partnerships among child welfare, courts, DV/IPV service providers and other critical stakeholders, likewise consistent with several recommendations in the Greenbook.

A particularly promising model, Safe and Together, developed by David Mandel and Associates was selected for building the IPV competency within child protective services. The model is informed by more than a decade of significant research and innovations that have resulted since the launch of the Greenbook. The first principle of the Safe and Together model perfectly aligns with the Greenbook, affirming that “children [exposed to domestic violence] should be safe and together with the non-offending parent.”

Four county demonstration sites -- Clark, Fairfield, Franklin and Ross -- were selected through a competitive process to participate in intensive Safe and Together trainings coordinated by NCALP. The four sites were divided into two cohort groups, each comprised of about 30 county child welfare staff, supervisors, and domestic violence advocates. The trainings were aimed at enhancing skills for earlier identification of domestic violence in child maltreatment reports, building competence for effective interventions in families with domestic violence concerns, understanding community partner roles and limitations, and ensuring a coordinated response inclusive of all appropriate community resources.

Concurrently with the counties’ intensive training efforts, NCALP convened a multidisciplinary Statewide Planning Group to examine IPV response mechanisms in Ohio on a broader scale. The group was charged with developing recommendations to assist state and county agencies in establishing and implementing a collaborative response plan for IPV. The final report from the Planning Group contains, general project information and resources.

Exceptionally positive feedback from the four demonstration counties prompted several additional counties to request, or independently seek, IPV training from DMA. In response to the overwhelming number of county requests, DMA and NCALP are working on a “train-the-trainer” plan aimed at utilizing certified trainers for expansion of the Safe and Together training to additional Ohio counties. The expansion plan will also build capacity within the state for continued implementation and long term sustainability of the project.

ODVN will continue to play a significant role in the ongoing work at the state and local levels. As a key stakeholder and member of the Collaborative and of the Supreme Court of Ohio Subcommittees and Task Forces, ODVN represents the statewide domestic violence community. The coalition will assist with system-level implementation of several of the policy and practice recommendations submitted in the final report to the State.

At the county level, ODVN will help to prepare community partners, particularly domestic violence programs, for the expected expansion of the Safe and Together model, the impact of Differential Response and local adoption of recommendations from the final report.

For questions or more information regarding the Ohio IPV Collaborative, please contact National Center for Adoption Law and Policy:

Denise St. Clair, Executive Director, 614-236-6593,
dstclair@law.capital.edu

Jenifer Thompson, Staff Attorney, 614-236-6539,
jthompson2@law.capital.edu

For questions on the project activities by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, please contact:

Nancy Neylon, Executive Director, 614-781-9651

Jo Simonsen, Prevention Trainer/Technical Assistant, 419-581-7000