Since its inception in early 2014, TCWRC’s new Safer Futures Program has been hugely successful at reaching out to local health providers and helping them better identify victims of domestic abuse.
In the short time it has been up and running, the program has generated a 250 percent increase in client referrals from healthcare provicers, according to program coordinator Heather Brown.
And that means more victims of domestic violence than ever before are being identified and referred for services.
“We have provided close to 700 separate services to these Safer Futures referrals already,” she reported. “This includes such things as shelter, transportation, emergency funds, court advocacy, food, diapers, clothing, you name it.”
According to Brown, who was hired early this year to manage the program, TCWRC’s three Safer Futures partners – Tillamook Family Health Centers, the Rinehart Clinic and Healthy Family Home Visitors – are making major strides in recognizing and assisting DV victims, which is leading to these referrals.
The Safer Futures Project is funded through the Oregon Department of Justice, Crime Victims’ Services Division. The primary goal of the grant program is to improve pregnant and parenting women’s safety and wellbeing by increasing access to advocacy services within public health and local health care systems.
“The program helps create a more immediate way by which survivors can learn about and connect with the services they need,” explained TCWRC Executive Director Kathleen Marvin. “Experience has shown that this results in more positive outcomes for survivors.”
TCWRC was one of four sites in Oregon to receive grants for the program last fall. Early this year, the project rolled out with Brown at the helm, supported by advocates Kimber Lundy, who is stationed at Rinehart Clinic, and Erin Richardson, who is posted at Tillamook Family Health Services.
The program has taken several approaches to achieve its success, said Brown.
“Healthy Family Home Visitors has been a tremendous champion of this program,” she noted. “Erin Richardson has gone on home visits with them, and one led to a referral. The staff people just eat up the training we’ve been providing. We couldn’t be more pleased with their efforts.”
At the Rinehart Clinic, Brown said the early work has been to establish the best methods for training staff. Recently, thanks to the assistance of Rinehart interim CEO Ann Blaker, Brown has made two presentations to the entire staff. “And Ann has asked for more materials and trainings,” Brown said. “She’s all over it.”
At the Family Health Centers, Brown said there has recently been a huge increase in referrals. “In the past, we were getting about four a month,” she noted. “But recently, that leaped to 11!”
Brown said she believes the change came about because TCWRC worked with the clinic to make changes to their screening questionnaire. “The questionnaire had not been effectively screening for domestic violence in the past,” she explained. “Working with us, they added more effective questions that help them identify those who may need help. It’s really exciting. Now the next phase is we will be getting them a lot more training in this area. They are really going to be a fabulous partner!”
She said TCWRC has also hung up informational posters in examination rooms at all the clinics and will be using a pocket guide put out by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Futures Without Violence.org entitled “Did You Know Your Relationship Affects Your Health?” It gives women simple cues they can use to determine if they are in dangerous relationships.
Brown said the coming year will be devoted to providing training to the full staff at each Safer Future partner organization – a total of 47 professionals. This training will cover such topics as how to recognize subtle signs of domestic abuse and how to be more informed of the effects of trauma on patients.
“Our goal is to get all the existing staff people trained, then get this curriculum established as part of their standard orientation materials for future employees,” she said.
24-hour helpline: (503) 842-9486 or toll free in Oregon 1 (800) 992-1679
Tillamook County Women's Resource Center, 1902 2nd Street, Tillamook, OR 97141 (503) 842-9486 ♦ 1-800-992-1679 ♦ TTY 1-800-877-8973 Office Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday