Letter to Member Programs from GCADV Executive Director Nicole Lesser
Posted on: 11.26.10
11/10/2010 – Over the last year, I have had the incredible honor of visiting with and touring 28 shelter and community-based programs around the state. From Hinesville and Jesup, to Fayetteville and Morrow, and all the way up to Blairsville, domestic violence service providers have taken the time to proudly tell me about their programs and share with me their struggles as they desperately try to meet the ever growing needs of domestic violence survivors with increasingly less resources.
On behalf of survivors around the state I want to thank these programs for their ingenuity and intense dedication. I have been astounded by the creative ways that staff have collaborated with the community resources in their areas to meet the needs. Never has a group of people been so good at getting services, materials and even buildings donated so that their work can continue and even grow.
While we are a large state with diverse needs, similar themes have emerged from these conversations. Whether in rural or urban areas, whether shelter or community based, north or south, programs have more in common than they do differences.
The difficult economy has brought new challenges for all programs. I am often asked by the media if there are more people being abused. Statistics and anecdotal stories do not show this to be true. What we are seeing is that the needs of victims are deeper, vaster. Stable housing is dependant on job availability and without jobs, people are staying longer at shelters or with the abuser. The people coming to our programs have complex needs beyond the basics of domestic violence intervention services. Many have been homeless for some time; others have substance abuse and other mental health issues; for others, language barriers and other cultural issues present specific accessibility challenges to receiving services.
One of the roles of GCADV is to be a resource for domestic violence programs and to support them in their building increased capacity for meeting the challenges of this work. In response to the feedback I received during the program visits, here are some of the things GCADV is doing to assist programs in moving forward and to say thanks for all they do:
- Increased Assess to Training: In addition to intentionally moving trainings around the state so that all programs can participate, GCADV is working to further utilize technology to increase access to trainings at any time. This month we launched the new members section of our website. Here programs can share resources and attend on-line learning workshops. This should especially help night and weekend staff who cannot usually attend our other trainings. Look for new Economic Justice modules to help develop capacity of programs as they give assistance to survivors experiencing economic abuse. Additionally, the GCADV lending library has been updated to include a variety of resources. We encourage members to review the library information in their membership packet or to check out the regularly updated library list on the GCADV membersite. Finally, Project Connect is offering trainings throughout the state to help public health and medical professionals respond to domestic violence.
- Advanced Topics Training: GCADV works to create learning opportunities for experienced advocates in areas such as domestic violence and mental health, executive leadership and board governance trainings. Collaborations with nationally recognized groups, such as the workshops being offered by GCADV and the Domestic Violence Resource Network in Spring 2011, give programs specialized trainings to extend their knowledge. Additionally, GCADV’s membership meetings focus on management skills, increasing capacity and sharing ideas and solutions.
- Media Coverage and Advocacy: GCADV works to raise awareness of domestic violence by actively engaging the media. Many programs have expressed concern over the media’s coverage of domestic violence, especially when stories blame the victim for her situation. Our Communications Coordinator, in collaboration with local programs, follows domestic violence fatalities in the media and responds to media reports through the Georgia Media Watch group.
- Funding for Programs: Alongside the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), GCADV provides federal advocacy in an effort to increase Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA), Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funds that reach local programs. Additionally, GCADV provides local legislative advocacy to minimize state budget cuts and support the timely distribution of contracts and funds. Each year, GCADV works with allied organizations to coordinate Stop Violence Against Women Day and provides ongoing legislative outreach. Finally, GCADV shares funding information with programs through GCADV Weekly Informational e-Blasts, which all member programs and their staff members are eligible to receive.
- Improved Criminal Justice and Systems Response: GCADV acknowledges that monitoring systems’ responses to domestic violence is a key to promoting justice and safety for survivors. As a result, GCADV is working with the Administrative Office of the Courts on their Domestic Violence Court Project, has collaborated on a protocol with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) on safe responses when domestic violence is present, works with multiple systems through the Fatality Review Project and has developed domestic violence screening pocket cards for law enforcement.
- Individualized Member Program Support: GCADV provides personalized outreach to programs whenever tragedy strikes. If you need extra support during a shelter or community crisis, please contact GCADV. GCADV also provides specialized technical assistance for programs that need focused solutions for board/nonprofit management, salary equity, emergency preparedness and developing suicide prevention protocols.
- Upcoming Initiatives: GCADV is working to ensure increased accessibility through an extended support project. This project will focus on how member programs can better respond to survivors with physical, cognitive or mental health issues, LGBTQI communities, women of color, teens, elders, military victims, and immigrant/refugee communities. This support project will include research components and as well as leadership development for people from such communities within the domestic violence movement.
GCADV would like to invite interested member programs and community members to share their input by joining our Membership and Program Task Force or Public Policy Task Force where GCADV’s decisions and recommendations are made. If unable to attend in person, conference calling options are available.
Please complete the form below to express your interest in joining a task force, to suggest what else we can provide member programs and their staff or to request a visit from GCADV Executive Director Nicole Lesser.
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