What organizations make up the core partners of the DVHRT?+
The DVHRT is led or co-led by a non-governmental domestic violence agency with core partner organizations from law enforcement, prosecution, probation, a pretrial assessment agency (where applicable), parole, and corrections. The DVHRT should have partner organization membership that is adequately representative and inclusive of the community demographics and make up. When possible, the court-ordered batterer's treatment program and community heath care center(s) and/or emergency department(s) are also partner organizations of the DVHRT.
Why must a Domestic Violence Agency lead the team?+
Significant differences exist among the professional missions of each partner agency. Only the Domestic Violence Agency has a primary mission of serving the victim’s interests and can best reflect the victim’s voice on the team. The Domestic Violence Agency puts the victim at the center of their work. As such, when the Domestic Violence Agency is the lead or co-lead of the team, the victim is at the center of the team’s work.
Also—as a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization—the Domestic Violence Agency is not subject to any personnel or priority reorganization due to political shifts or union requirements. The Domestic Violence Agency, therefore, is the preferred team partner to lead or co-lead the DVHRT.
Since the Domestic Violence Agency leads or co-leads the team, does that give them a stronger role in team decision making?+
No. While a DVHRT is led or co-led by the Domestic Violence Agency, team decisions regarding the acceptance or closing of cases are made by a majority of the participating partner agencies. No single agency can accept or close a case on behalf of the team. Once a case is accepted, the Domestic Violence Agency is one voice in the creation of the case intervention plan. Each partner decides what role they will play in the plan and reports their activity to the team during regularly scheduled meetings.
How are high-risk cases identified and referred to the DVHRT?+
Early identification of high-risk cases through risk assessment is key to the successful operations of a DVHRT. Risk assessment is performed by Domestic Violence Agency and Law Enforcement team partners in their work with victims in accordance with their agency’s policy. Cases identified as high-risk using this assessment are referred to the DVHRT. Though any DVHRT partner agency may refer cases to the team or perform risk assessment, the majority of referrals typically come from the Domestic Violence agency (referral by this partner requires a victim consent form) and Law Enforcement partners since these two agencies are the primary points for victim contact. Cases are accepted by the DVHRT based on the level of risk identified through the assessment and the criminal history of the offender.
What information is shared among DVHRT partner agencies?+
The transfer of information among DVHRT partners is a fundamental part of the DVHRT Model structure. Individual partner agencies commit to share information, as allowed by law, that is used to develop an individualized intervention plan and inform decision making by individual partner agencies, especially during the pretrial phase of a case. Examples include criminal history, orders of protection, police reports, court dates, probation violations, and release dates.
Does a DVHRT play any role in partner agency decision making or court proceedings?+
No. DVHRT participating agencies use risk assessment information to inform their specific response to high-risk cases in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction. The DVHRT—acting collectively—plays no role in partner agency decision making or court proceedings. For example, charging decisions and any recommendations regarding bail, conditions of release, or plea agreements are made by the Prosecutor—not by the DVHRT or any other DVHRT partner. Experienced DVHRT members, through a common language of risk assessment, are better prepared to manage high-risk cases even outside the confines of the team.
What does an intervention plan consist of?+
Once a case is accepted by the DVHRT, the team develops case-specific plans to interrupt the cycle of escalating violence and minimize the risk of further abuse. Each partner agency defines the role it will play to keep the victim safe and hold the offender accountable. For example, the Domestic Violence Agency may provide the victim with legal assistance in obtaining a protection order and the Prosecution may decide to request high bail based on the dangerousness of the situation. With a more complete understanding of the background, context, and status of a high-risk case, partner agencies are able to make more fully informed decisions in their individual interactions with the case.
Intervention plans should be fluid with agencies adapting quickly to changes in circumstances. A fast-track policy allows teams to accept cases and create intervention plans between meetings.
Why does jurisdiction matter?+
DVHRT core partner organizations share information and develop individualized intervention plans concerning common cases to increase victim safety and offender accountability. Consequently, the core partner organizations that make up your DVHRT must operate within and directly correspond to the court's jurisdictional boundaries.
One DVHRT will typically serve a population of no larger than 200,000 for optimal case manageability. Larger jurisdictions may need to consider multiple teams organized by police precincts or police districts that correspond to the court jurisdiction. Piloting the Model in one court jurisdiction is a common first step in larger cities or counties.
What resources are available for policy and protocol development?+
It is essential that DVHRT partner agencies agree to incorporate a common risk assessment into their domestic violence response and that written agency policies or protocols around the use of risk assessment are drafted and included in agency training. JGCC has developed guidelines for each agency’s leadership as they draft a risk assessment policy or protocol that addresses who to screen, when the risk screen tool is used, and how the risk screen gets to the DVHRT.
What trainings are part of a DVHRT start up process?+
During the assessment phase we will work with you to customize the training to your jurisdiction’s laws and policies.
DVHRT Required Trainings:
- New Team Kickoff Workshop
- Integrating Risk Assessment Practice for Domestic Violence Agency Supervisors
- DVHRT Model Training: Domestic Violence Agency Advocates
- DVHRT Model Training: Law Enforcement
What support is provided as the DVHRT begins operations?+
JGCC technical assistance guides the local DVHRT Coordinator through all phases of operations—from meeting preparation to case management—with a series of structured conference calls that address best practices as well as any unique issues the site may be experiencing. Each call agenda is supported by operations documents—several with completed samples—for use with your DVHRT meetings and cases. JGCC will also work with you on data collection and analysis.
What about victim confidentiality?+
Respecting confidential and privileged communications is a core tenet of domestic violence services. Most Domestic Violence Agencies are also governed by statutes that reinforce the importance of these confidential communications. Domestic Violence Agencies participating in DVHRTs only share information with a signed, written release from victims.
What if a victim refuses to sign a release or does not want the DVHRT to monitor the case?+
In our experience, a very small number of victims ultimately refuse DVHRT intervention. If a victim does refuse to sign a release or does not want DVHRT involvement, the case would not be referred to the DVHRT by the Domestic Violence Agency. Occasionally, Law Enforcement will refer such a case to the team if they have responded and performed a risk assessment. This limits the information that can be shared, however, to public information only.
Isn’t shelter the safest intervention plan for a victim at high-risk?+
While shelter certainly is life saving for many victims, there are some victims who will not or cannot enter shelter. The Model was developed with these victims in mind and helps communities offer a socially just alternative to shelter.
Why did the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center create the DVHRT Model?+
The Center’s nationally acclaimed DVHRT Model was created in response to the tragic domestic violence homicide of one of our clients in 2002. Each agency in the response system acted properly based on the information available to it. What became apparent, however, was that some agencies lacked vital information—information that was available and could have effected decisions made at each step of the case. JGCC realized that if there had been a mechanism for the agencies to bring together the information they held individually then each agency would have been more fully informed on the background and status of the case when making critical decisions and the result may have been different. Knowing that if nothing changed, the next high risk case would have the same result, JGCC developed the DVHRT Model and launched it in 2004 in Greater Newburyport.
What does a DVHRT cost?+
There are two sets of costs associated with implementing the DVHRT Model. The first is one-time expenses that cover start-up and training and the second are ongoing maintenance costs. Start-up and training costs may be covered for a limited number of eligible communities through JGCC’s Training and Technical Assistance Grant through The Office on Violence Against Women. These services are also available on a fee for service basis.
What successes have been achieved with the DVHRT Model?+
A community that implements a DVHRT experiences several positive changes both immediately and over time:
- Victims at highest risk are offered socially just alternatives to shelter.
- The quality of the system response to domestic violence improves with the adoption of routine risk assessment as risk factors are more widely understood.
- Gaps in the system response become evident and easily identified through information sharing and data collected on DVHRT performance and outcomes.
- As high-risk cases are identified, homicides and re-assaults decrease.
Please visit the Impact section to read more about how a DVHRT impacts a community and its response system.