May 21, 2020
In early March, the COVID-19 global health pandemic infected Idaho, seeping into the Treasure Valley, bringing fear and trepidation as we heard reports of death rates, job losses and financial collapse worldwide. At the WCA we were also paying close attention to accounts of another significant impact—the reports of rising rates of domestic violence spanning the globe. As it stands today, our fears have been realized.
While we searched for N95 masks, gowns and cleaning supplies to buy, we put plans in place. With the health and safety of our clients and staff always at the front of our minds, we significantly stepped up our cleaning schedules at the downtown Crisis Center and at the shelter campus. We began daily health screenings and gratefully accepted cloth masks made by members of the public. We made the difficult decision to close our thrift shop and halt in-kind donations of any kind. We sent most all non-program staff home to work remotely and upgraded our IT systems to support their ability to continue our outreach and fundraising efforts.
However, keeping our doors open and continuing to provide critical services to those impacted by domestic abuse and sexual assault was a priority for us–stopping was never an option. We know the dynamics of abuse and that many in our community are impacted each day. This situation, a pandemic with a “stay-home order” and others isolating for health reasons, job losses, children out of school and more—all allow for more individuals to be isolated at home, in unhealthy, abusive and dangerous situations with mounting stress each day.
We had to work fast and figure out how to continue to provide support and services virtually, at first telephonically and then also via video upgrading to the Zoom Pro, HIPAA compliant platform. Our residential and community clients continued to receive counseling, case management; financial empowerment and client advocacy through alternative delivery—but our staff did not miss a beat.
When the Ada County Courthouse closed to the public on a Friday afternoon, the WCA as a whole pivoted immediately and the Court Advocacy team was ready to assist with filing civil protection orders at our downtown Crisis Center by Monday morning. Still today, the team helps those seeking domestic violence and stalking civil protection orders file paperwork electronically as well as supports them over video and telephonically with their emergency and two-week hearings. The team also offers safety planning and legal referrals both telephonically and in person at the Crisis Center.
We have also seen a significant increase in the number of emergency intakes into our secure emergency domestic violence shelter—which means the lethality risk is so high for these clients that they bypass any waitlist and get right into shelter as quickly as possible. For perspective, last year we averaged about one emergency intake into shelter a quarter. Right now, we are averaging one per week.
Without the ability to do in-person educational presentations in the community, participate in tabling or events, we have had to get creative in our outreach.
The support of our community has been immediate and humbling. As we look to the next few months we know that the need will only continue to increase and we are hopeful that our community will continue to be there for our clients so that we cannot just maintain but increase our services to meet the demand we know is coming.
Bea Black, CEO
Women’s and Children’s Alliance.
Young people experience sexual violence; for instance, about 14.9% of Idaho high schoolers were forced to carry out sexual activities they did not want to do by someone there were dating within the past year. This article offers some considerations in providing informed and supportive services to survivors of dating violence and sexual assault in Idaho who are under 18 years old.
Programs serving minors Idaho law empowers programs to offer services to survivors under 18 years old who experienced dating violence or sexual assault. Although there are few laws discussing the rights of minors in Idaho, it is clear that Idaho law allows domestic and sexual violence programs to offer a broad range of services to minors without a parent or legal guardian’s prior consent. However, Idaho law requires parental consent for programs house minors. Programs should also be aware that there are legal and ethical restrictions when providing medical (including mental health) services to minors.
Recordkeeping, Privacy, and Confidentiality Young survivors need to trust Programs and their advocates in order to fully access the services needed to be resilient. The way in which Programs handle and store their client’s information impacts trust. Programs should only keep records absolutely necessary to provide services. Programs may gather information to ensure a person qualifies for programming, for funding-required record-keeping purposes, and to ensure continuity of care.
However, because advocates and Programs do not have legal privilege in Idaho, detailed note-keeping should be avoided as it may be subpoenaed or subject to other forms of legal discovery. While advocacy services are protected from some level of disclosure by VAWA funding restrictions requiring confidentiality (which do not differentiate between adult and minor clients), if records were discovered through a legal process it would be up to a court to decide whether or not the records must be disclosed.
Mandatory reporting laws in Idaho Because of the likelihood of encountering a situation in which your organization is required to make a mandatory child abuse report, it is important that all minors seeking services are aware of what may happen to information that they disclose. If possible, prior to disclosure, Programs should provide minors information on the definition of abuse with clear, accessible language and pace. Explaining terms and concepts in ways a person would understand who is not familiar with the terminology used within government and legal systems is a good practice. Also explain what Programs have to do if a client discloses reportable information to them. At the same time, a Program can provide information on services and referrals without disclosure of specific information. This will enable the minor to decide what information to share and how to proceed with accessing help and support.
This Idaho Coalition and its attorneys are here to provide Programs with even more detailed information about serving minors. This article should not be used as a thorough analysis on the issues touched upon, but only a highlight some important issues for Programs to consider. For more information, please contact Molly Kafka at the Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2016-WR-AX-0008 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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Resources are often difficult to keep track of as the availability of services and funding opportunities advocates learn about and access on behalf of survivors are regularly shifting from grant-cycle-to-grant-cycle and year-to-year. With that in mind, we would like to remind our programs and advocates about the availability of SASP emergency assistance. This is a small funding stream which is allocated through the Idaho Coalition’s ISP SASP grant specifically to help provide support to individuals impacted by sexual assault.
SASP Emergency funds may be accessed by Idaho Coalition member programs, those who receive SASP funds, as-well-as program members who do not currently receive SASP funds.
We also recognize that many victims/survivors of sexual assault may not access crisis centers, but may be interacting with community organizations and agencies who are working with individuals with disabilities, culturally specific agencies, or with LGBTQ organizations. These organizations may reach out to your program looking for support, sexual assault services, and other resources; please know that these agencies and organizations may also access these funds when looking to provide emergency support on behalf of individuals impacted by sexual assault.
Emergency assistance may include, but is not limited to: counseling, medical assistance, rental or employment assistance, civil legal assistance or other approved expenses related to the victimization.
SASP Emergency assistance requests may be made directly to, Lacey Sinn at the Idaho Coalition. Each request will be evaluated to determine that it fits within the SASP priority areas and eligibility requirements and to ensure there is adequate emergency funding to support the request. Upon approval, reimbursement will be made directly to the program or community organization/agency for the request.
If you have any questions regarding SASP Emergency Assistance Funds, how to submit a request, etc. please contact Lacey.
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The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence invites you to join one or more of the book discussions for advocates this spring on a selection of books that can inform your work! We will purchase the books (paperback, e-book or audio book if available) and mail it to your home or work address. The books and the dates for the discussion are listed below:
Sign up for these books here!
Call for Workshop Proposals
The call for 2020 conference for the November 4-5, 2020 are now being accepted.
Every two years, the Early Years conference attracts more than 350 attendees seeking actionable information, new strategies, and best practices in the field of early childhood education and intervention. We invite you to consider Early Years’ 2020 as a forum to share your expertise. Please familiarize yourself with the additional information for the Call for Proposals below before you prepare your proposal.
Conference Tracks: Workshop topic to address one of five conference tracks and explore “what’s new and what’s working” to help children ages birth to eight and families:
Selection Criteria: The Early Years’ 2020 Workshops subcommittee will select proposals that best exemplify the following criteria:
You can submit proposals here!
Considerations for Advocates Serving Non-Citizen Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence
June 8, 2020 | 1:30-3PM MT
This webinar will discuss cultural, sociological, and economic barriers among non-citizen victims of partner/family violence to seeking help experienced by legal advocates among their clients who must share intimate information with them.
To register for this webinar, please email Molly Kafka at email@example.com.
Reminder that shipping for all material orders made by Programs on the Idaho Coalition website store is FREE of cost, please use the below coupon for all orders.