current projects

The DV Commission facilitates a Child Witness Work Group, which brings together community professionals to implement best practices related to the community response to children exposed to domestic violence. A key project of this Work Group is to facilitate monthly Case Consultations to improve the community response to specific cases involving children living in families with domestic violence.

Through the Case Consultation, Team members:

  • discuss case concerns
  • assist one another in assessing and providing a best-practice response to families with children who are experiencing domestic violence
  • provide feedback on available resources and services
  • identify system and or inter-agency communication and case management issues
  • improve collaboration among systems based and community-based providers to improve responses to domestic violence survivors and their children
  • identify barriers in the systemic and community response to safety for children exposed to domestic violence
  • develop strategies and policy recommendations to address identified systems restraints, communication barriers, and collaboration barriers.

The focus of the Case Consultation is on domestic violence in the context of the entire family, which includes the children, the survivor, and the perpetrator.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which traditionally occurs in October, evolved from the first Day of Unity in October 1981 sponsored by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The original intent was to connect battered women’s advocates across the country who were working to end violence against women and children. The range of activities focused on honoring women who were killed, celebrating women who survived, and uniting advocates working in the field.

In Whatcom County, the DV Commission provides a leadership and coordination role in Domestic Violence Awareness ACTION Month. The DV Commission hosts its own events and activities, and also supports local participating agencies by promoting their efforts as well. With the focus in October switching from AWARENESS to TAKING ACTION, the DV Commission will be reaching out to community members with daily action items that anyone can do to promote healthy relationships and prevent domestic violence. Get ready for October and follow the DV Commission on facebook and twitter and find out how to prevent domestic violence in our community.

The Domestic Violence High Risk Response Team (DVHRT) is an innovative approach that is offender focused. There are clear risk factors that are looked at as a team and determine the level of risk the offender poses to victim, children, and others. The DVHRT is focused on those cases that are the highest risk for fatality. Currently there are 22 people being monitored by the DVHRT.
The Lethality Assessment Program or LAP, is based on the research of Jackie Campbell which showed that women killed by their intimate partners had very seldom been engaged by advocates. The LAP protocol directs members of law enforcement responding on-scene to a domestic call to conduct an 11 item lethality screen with the victim. When the protocol indicates that the victim is at high risk of lethality, the officer makes immediate contact with the local domestic violence advocacy agency (DVSAS). The victim is then encouraged, but not required, to speak with the domestic violence advocate. The responding officer and the domestic violence advocate work as partners to provide the victim with safety planning and resource information.

In 2013, representatives from all Whatcom County law reinforcement agencies attended a training on the LAP; all of these jurisdictions currently use the LAP to screen for risk. The DV Commission hosted the initial training, monitors implementation of the LAP, tracks data on high-risk domestic violence cases, and ensures on-going training.

The DV Commission is currently exploring the expansion of the LAP to health care providers, faith communities, and other disciplines.

Responding to Domestic Violence: A Toolkit for Faith Communities in Whatcom County is a comprehensive guide for clergy and laypeople to be both proactive and reactive in responding to abuse. The primary focus is to support the abuser to change their behavior; it also includes important information about supporting victim and child safety and healing.

The need for increased interventions for abusers was identified during the DV Commission’s strategic planning process in 2011; we realized that we need to find more ways to hold the abuser accountable so that they can change. This identified community need continually resurfaced throughout the Whatcom County Domestic Violence Fatality Review, when the Panel consistently found a lack of resources and options for the abuser to change.

The Toolkit project started in the spring of 2013, with the goal of focusing on faith communities as a way to support the general community (family, friends, and neighbors) to learn more about domestic violence, local resources, and effective interventions – for abusers to change, and for victims and children to be safe and supported. DV Commission partners conducted research for and then developed the Toolkit based on best practices for both prevention and response; we are now ready to pilot the Toolkit in Whatcom County faith communities.

The complete Toolkit can be found here. Please contact Susan Marks if you are interested in piloting the Toolkit in your faith community.

The DV Commission and Ferndale School District, in partnership with other agencies including DVSAS and Lummi Victims of Crime, has been selected as one of 9 sites in the United States to pilot the Services, Training, Education, and Policies to Reduce Dating, Domestic, and Sexual Violence in Secondary Schools Program.  This pilot project is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

The STEP project is focused on preventing dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among middle and high school students in the Ferndale School District; and, when incidents have already occurred, ensuring that students receive best-practice responses.

STEP projects include:

  • Facilitating a multi-disciplinary STEP Community Coordinated Response Team (CCRT) to conduct a community needs assessment, develop a strategic plan, and guide all of the efforts of this project.
  • Coordinating youth-led peer education efforts through Youth Advisory Boards at each of the middle and high schools.
  • Providing prevention education in classrooms.
  • Offering trainings for staff, parents, and community members.
  • Creating and implementing policies, procedures, and protocols for the District and community response to student victims.
  • Providing on-site advocacy, support groups, and other services for student victims.

The multi-disciplinary Response Protocol developed by the STEP project can be found here.