In 2010, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. invited 23 anti-domestic violence agencies from all over the Bay Area to come together in order to discuss using technology to better understand what services are available to survivors, and to enhance communication amongst the anti-domestic violence agencies themselves. Two years later, over 30 agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area are now utilizing the Domestic Violence Information and Referral Center (DVIRC) to help domestic violence survivors find safe havens and other available services simply and efficiently.
With the DVIRC’s successful implementation in the Bay Area, the Blue Shield Foundation of California has provided funding to W.O.M.A.N., Inc. to expand the system. In its next phase, the project hopes to expand beyond the predominantly urban San Francisco Bay Area to include rural counties. This two-year project involves making the DVIRC system accessible to Domestic Violence agencies in Ventura County, Del Norte County, and Santa Clara County. Through data evaluation and interviews with participating agencies, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. also hopes to get a clearer picture of what statewide expansion and long term sustainability of the system might look like.
The need for the DVIRC is clear, as W.O.M.A.N., Inc. and other Domestic Violence agencies must often refer clients to resources in other regions of the state. This concerns especially Domestic Violence survivors who need to relocate a good distance from their abuser. Currently, there is no effective and efficient system that allows to find the resources. Expanding the DVIRC to the entire state of California would solve these problems as each agency joining the DVIRC could include their referral services on the website to share with all other agencies.
Harrington House, a Domestic Violence agency located in Crescent City that will be participating in the expansion, has mentioned that being able to locate special services such as allowing pets to come to shelter with domestic violence survivors would be particularly useful to them. For many of their clients being able to locate a shelter that can make arrangements for pets is of great importance. Some survivors may not want to leave their pets behind and having access to additional resources with specific details regarding the shelters’ services can give survivors more options and help them feel empowered. Animal care is also of special importance in rural agricultural areas such as Del Norte County (where Crescent City is located), because many of the residents’ livelihoods depend on their animals, and oftentimes the survivors cannot afford to leave their animals behind.
Over the next month, Jill Zawisza and Mariya Taher of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. will be meeting with Harrington House (Crescent City), Coalition for Family Harmony (Oxnard), and the Santa Clara Domestic Violence Consortium to begin work on expanding the DVIRC in hopes of building a stronger network of anti-domestic violence service providers throughout California.