The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence knows that domestic violence and sexual assault programs are navigating these uncertain times with care and concern. As programs adapt to providing services to survivors while complying with the recommendations of the CDC and Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, it is imperative that we remain connected and rooted in community.
Disbelief, confusion, and grief are all completely understandable responses to what is happening right now. There are community members who have long navigated their lives with vulnerable immune systems to whom we can look for guidance in adapting to working and thriving from home. (“Disabled Oracles and the Coronavirus”). And if this moment offers anything, it is the affirmation that we possess the wisdom of our ancestors and descendants necessary to lead us through this pandemic intact and caring for each other, all beings, and the earth. Let us carry that knowledge forward as we support victims and survivors during this health crisis.
Programs are not alone in discerning how to move forward. The Idaho Coalition continues to be a resource to work through questions on how to support the well-being of staff and survivors as you continue to provide the vital services to survivors in your area. Below you will find some recommendations we believe will guide you through the process of making the necessary adjustments during this health pandemic. We are here for you, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What programs can do right now:
Supporting your staff:
Safe Passage (Coeur d’Alene): Chauntelle Lieske relayed that Safe Passages has reduced staff to two advocates and one staff at shelter with everyone else working from home. They have a new phone system that takes the crisis line to their cell phones to keep those services going. Chauntelle has noticed drastic differences between Washington and Idaho and how the coronavirus is playing out in both states. The Spokane Y closed their walk-in services and we have been told they aren’t taking people into their shelter in Spokane. Whenever there is a change there we feel it at our agency. Outreach team is doing is putting webinars together for staff and all get on-line together for training once a week. They have also applied to provide on-line courses for NIC and continue to provide our healthy relationship curriculum to students there. They are checking into the same thing for the high schools. They are also going to see what we can do about video chatting or group meetings to provide survivors who come to support group.
Family Safety Network (Driggs): Monica Carillo shared that they have 5 confirmed cases of coronavirus in their area. They are still open and keeping protocols in place. They are doing their best to keep clients and staff as safe as they can. They have seen 6 different clients this week and have seen an increase in the clientele that identify as Hispanic. It has been quiet since Tuesday, but they are anticipating an increase really soon.
Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence (Hailey): Tricia Swartling shared that they have 5 confirmed cases as well and started taking precautions last week. They are using the same protocol as the hospital; those that do not pass the test are placed in a local hotel. They are not allowing more than 2 staff at the office and are using telephone and online to conduct services. They have 1 staff at the shelter and they are not allowing outside people in transitional housing.
Voices Against Violence (Twin Falls): Donna Graybill shared that they are utilizing remote and mobile advocacy with 1 staff member at the shelter and 2-3 staff members in the public office at a time with separate office areas. They have closed their waiting room and generally trying to have less traffic in the office.
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center (Idaho Falls): Teen McBride shared that in their area the courts have suspended all specialty courts, but they can do CPOs from the office and can scan and email them over. So far they have done one CPO a day, calling to let petitioners know that the CPO has been granted. They had a client who only spoke Spanish, so they let an advocate accompany her are the court. They have held groups this past week with only 8 people showing up, and as long as they are healthy, they are allowed to come in. They have gotten rid of all of their toys and have done an extensive clean of the office.
YWCA Lewiston-Clarkston (Lewiston): Laurie Lewis shared that most staff are working from home with one staff member working the shelter. They are prioritizing motels as alternative shelters and are no longer taking intakes in the communal shelter.
Boundary County Youth Crisis and DV Hotline (Bonners Ferry): Becky James has sent an administrative leave policy to the board and waiting for approval. Staff feel safe enough to come into work, but they have been asked to work from home and to take it day by day. They are doing as many services telephonically as possible. They reached out the to the CEO of the local hospital and will allow the program to meet with any victim of a crime. The county installed sneeze guards.
Family Services Alliance of SE Idaho (Pocatello): Sarah O’Banion reminded her staff that FSA is a crisis organization and that staff have the skills to handle this. Staff are doing mobile advocacy and telehealth, reducing the amount of toys in the office, cancelled support groups, and asked clients to connect individually with the counselor. She is concerned about what community events and fundraising will look like for the rest of the year.
Family Crisis Center (Rexburg): Margie Harris shared that staff are working remotely and doing similar strategies as other programs. They had to cancel their food bank because there are a lot of people that attend. However, they are leaving boxes outside for those that need it. CPO hearings are still happening and clients can take their advocate on the phone with them once they enter the courtroom.
Bingham Crisis Center (Blackfoot): Scott Smith shared that they have been proactive and have spoke with the mayor, county personnel, law enforcement, and the hospital. The program is still open, but limited with the community closet closed for at least 2-3 weeks. The front door is locked and there is a sign on the front door that says clients need to call first if they need help.
Shoshone County Crisis and Resource Center (Wallace): Kellie Lavigne shared that the school district has not shut down, so some kids are still attending school. The program continues to be at full work capacity with advocates working in the office and they are very busy, receiving lots of calls a day. They are taking precautions and if a client is experiencing symptoms, they must call first. They are on social media letting people know that their services are available. There have been no confirmed cases in Shoshone County.
Priest River Ministries (Priest River): Rhonda Echinas shared that offices are still open, clothing closets are closed, childcare facility is closed, counselor is providing telehealth services, and they have suspended groups. The courthouse is closed, but there is one judge that will allow them to come in on 14-day hearings with clients. They are still giving out supplies like diapers and cleaning products and will deliver to people’s doors. They are receiving a lot of calls, with 15 domestic violence calls yesterday. The current challenge is that shelters are full and hotels are not taking domestic violence clients. The grocery stores in the area are working with them to order supplies and will allow pick up, so they have the supplies that the community needs right now. Law enforcement will not pick up people who violate protection orders, so this is a concern.
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Victims Assistance Program (Fort Hall): Audrey Jim shared that they have closed the shelter and are doing a thorough cleaning and will do emergency shelter placements at hotels in the area. They are taking crisis calls telephonically and have a strict access to the office. They have a sign saying clients that need assistance should call first and they purchased a doorbell. The hospital is limited because they are only allowing one person to accompany a patient, so with rape cases this is a challenge. They have transport services, rental assistance, and fuel which are all case by case. They are following the protocol under the tribal guidelines and OVW. Since they are under the tribe, administrative leave is per tribal policy.
Elmore Domestic Violence Council (Mountain Home): Kim Middleton shared that there is one advocate at the shelter and parenting group has been cancelled. They have reached out to law enforcement. The local hotel will be used for new clients and they are informing everyone of the importance of limiting outside activity.
Oneida Crisis Center (Malad): Holly Llewellyn shared that the food pantry has now turned into a drive-thru. Everyone is still at work, but separated in the office. They are in constant communication with the community.
`Úuyit Kimti Program (New Beginnings) (formally known as the Nez Perce Tribe Women’s Outreach Program) – Lapwai: Tai Simpson updated for Karee Picard that the office is closed and staff are fully remote. Staff that are over 60 are on administrative leave. There has been a coordinated buffalo hunt for the tribe.
Crossroads Harbor Shelter (Rupert): Robin Bronson shared that the office will close today and they will start taking appointments only. They are getting a lot of requests for clothes, hygiene products, and supplies. The shelter has been cleaned, but it will remain closed. H ouse survivors in a local hotel.
Mahoney House (Salmon): Scott Brand was on the joint call but we missed him! Here’s Scott’s update: moving all housing to local motels; letting our community partners know we are available; creating an outdoor “office” for in-takes, counseling, etc.; screening each person who comes to the door; canceled all groups, classes, outreach; they have a plan in place to go remote if we as a staff feel that is the best step.
Reflections from the community call
On Thursday, March 19th, community-based organizers gathered over 500 people onto a Zoom conference call line to connect and share how they are engaging in services with their clients from historically marginalized communities. The brilliant speaker line- up included:
These powerful advocates shared some action steps they are practicing during the COVID-19 outbreak:
They also shared some of their reflections on providing services as well:
The organizers also create a virtual “Collective Help Desk” to share information between advocates/survivors. Their goal was to create a practice space for folks working in direct services to discuss best and promising practices, ask questions and learn together as COVID-19 changes our work and our world. The “Collective Help Desk” is available to anyone and if you want to, you can join us through a free Slack link (listed below)
“We are not dramatically unprepared, we have really good relationships with each other, that is always what we leaned on” – Orchid Pusey of The Asian Women’s Center in San Francisco.
We hope you and all your staff members are safe. Thank you for continuing to provide life-saving services despite the circumstances. Our communities are resilient and we look forward to being in service to you all.
A note that beginning on April 9, 2020, the Towards Thriving and Thriving Families newsletters will be combined into one newsletter. Stay tuned!
Webinar: SAMHSA and ACF Information Memorandum on Working at the Intersections of Domestic Violence, Substance Use and Mental Health: Research; Resources; and Implications for State, Territory, and Tribal DV and DV/SA Coalitions and State FVPSA Administrators
Tuesday, April 7th from 5 pm – 6 pm EST
It has long been recognized that domestic violence can have significant mental health and substance use-related effects. Yet, the lack of collaboration between systems often leave survivors and their families without ways to address both safety and recovery needs. In order to address these gaps in services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued an Information Memorandum calling for increased collaboration between domestic violence, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment providers and systems. This webinar will provide an overview of key issues, recommendations and resources highlighted in the Information Memorandum as well as policy-relevant data from two national NCDVTMH surveys – one of DV programs and one of state women’s substance use coordinators. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss policy and practice implications for State, Territory, and Tribal Coalitions and State FVPSA Administrators.
Webinar will be hosted by NNEDV on Tuesday, April 7th from 5 pm – 6 pm EST and facilitated by the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health.
To register for the webinar, please click here.