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What Domestic Violence Organizations Need to Know about Coronavirus

Updated, 4/3/2020

We hope all of you are staying well and are in as good of spirits as you can be. As always, thank you for your dedication to victims and survivors of violence! We know what a roller-coaster of emotions current day-to-day challenges bring and hope you are finding ways to care for yourselves as you care for others. 

Additionally, we applaud the efforts of the many people and organizations working together to provide as much information as possible to the anti-violence community about the Coronavirus and its impact. In an effort to consolidate the vast amount of information now available regarding the Coronavirus, NCADV has organized the following COVID-19 specific resources by topic. We hope you find this information helpful. If you have a resource specific to COVID-19 that you would like to see added to this list, please complete the form found here.

Many of you have shared the ways in which you are currently working to provide services to victims and survivors - thank you! Please continue to share your efforts. We are particularly interested in examples of how you have adjusted safety planning with victims in crisis. Here are many of the comments shared over the past few weeks (identifying information has been removed):

  • “We continue to staff our office, although due to social distancing recommendations, I have staggered schedules to reduce risk of exposure between staff. I have researched and provided a long list of approved DV/Advocacy training to be permitted to work from home. I have offered all staff leave without pay if they so choose, and of course utilization of their paid leave. We have upped our disinfection schedules/policies. Our DV safehouse remains open and we will continue to screen new clients in as we have availability. We will ask a few more questions as to current health/symptoms. We keep residents and staff updated.”
  • “We are working remotely as much as possible ... direct service staff are taking shifts each day to come into the Shelter to check the survivors and make sure all is OK. We're following up by phone &/or video conference with survivors in the community if it is safe.”
  • “We have gone to entire remote working except for our shelter. All of our case management and crisis lines are now being managed by our staff from their homes.”
  • “We have postponed all community support groups, presentations, and group counseling. We have continued individual counseling; however, by phone only. Clients are encouraged to continue to come to our community outreach program to pick up food donations for themselves and their families.  Our legal advocacy team is available for all emergency orders of protections; however, the Chief Judge has postponed all court matters for 30-days.”
  • “[We] have provided clients with guidance on staying in their units and restricting their visitors, and our Aftercare program continues to provide educational support and guidance for the parents and children who participate in the programming. Last, but certainly not least, our Shelter remains open for intake and accepting clients, the staff are working around the clock to keep the unit clean and provide support to the individuals and families during this time.”
  • “We are providing mobile advocacy for our clients. We have a text line and a hotline number that clients can reach out to at any time. We are still providing our therapy service through the phone. We are still assessing people for shelter but are putting them in a safe location offsite. Advocate will call and connect with the individuals daily.”
  • “I have found a greater need for relocation among several of the survivors I work with. My one client's abusive husband has used this as an opportunity to further control and isolate his wife and kids, refusing to let them leave the house under any circumstances. In addition, he is quarantined with them, leading to more exposure to abuse. Among multiple families there is increasing, escalating tension. We are also anticipating a heightened need for families to flee to our shelter.”
  • “[We] have designated one bedroom as a quarantine room in case we have a confirmed virus victim or someone who is sick and needs to be isolated until it is determined if that person is contagious.”
  • “[O]ur licensed clinical therapist is doing a virtual shortened group and posting it to our facebook page so since we can't do group, the attendees and others can still benefit from her wisdom.”
  • “We are temporarily suspending in-person educational presentations to community groups, as well as hosting informational tables at community events.” 
  • “To help reduce the number of public gatherings in our service area, we are canceling organized community activities such as Sexual Assault Awareness Month through April, and we will reevaluate conditions at that time.” 
  • “We are temporarily suspending in-person participation in community meetings and task forces. When feasible, we will use remote methods to participate in discussions.”
  • “To limit non-essential visits to our facility, we are canceling in-person meetings through April.”
  • “We will not be accepting donations of any used items until further notice. Donations of new, needed items (cleaning products, unexpired non-perishable food, etc.) will still be accepted.”  
  • “We will continue to provide Emergency Services. Non-emergency services will be provided via telephone, text, or e-mail.”
  • “Our partnership with a legal assistance program has been suspended - we have an attorney that comes to our site 2 times a month to provide legal information to victims here, they have been ordered to stay home so that also has to be done over the phone.”
  • “The safehouse is being disinfected every 8 hours (every staffing shift) to reduce germs.”
  • “Hand sanitizer is at each entry door and must be used by anyone entering the shelter (signs in English and Spanish remind everyone to sanitize).”
  • “Beds have been moved 6 feet from each other.”
  • “Clients currently in the safehouse are automatically having their time of stay extended (past the 30 days typically) to reduce the transition of clients.”
  • “Staff meetings are cancelled and only one staff member is working at the safehouse at a time. The other staff are working from home on special projects so they can provide safehouse backup coverage, in the event that a staff member becomes sick.”
  • “We have set up a Zoom account that is HIPPA compliant...if [the client has] the capability to have a private conversation from their home, we will meet with them on line.”
  • “Safety planning is still our number one priority and we have integrated new applications on smartphones that alerts 6 people either via text, call or alert to signal the person needs help. We have created safe people and places to go for individuals who are still in the abusive home and as always, each situation is unique so all plans are tailored to the specific case. Self soothing and breathing techniques as well as self-care and ways to calm during anxietal times were also explained and practiced between the client and counselor.” 
  • “We are providing beside advocacy in the Emergency Departments via phone and /or video chat. We are working closely with nurses to help get resources in the hands of survivors.”
  • “We are shipping safety devices like door jambs, alarms, window bars, etc.. this is to help survivors who may need to shelter in place.”

NCADV will continue to provide updates to this blog post as information is received. Until then, we wish you all peace, health and safety. 

 

Original Post, 3/13/2020

Like you, NCADV has been closely monitoring the impact and potential consequences of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We honor your tenacity, creativity and strength as you work to continue providing such critical services during these uncertain times to those in crisis, despite the risks, the fear, the constant changes, and the newly developing obstacles. As such, we hope the following material helps streamline information and resources for you so you can continue providing those critical services.   

We encourage you to bookmark this post as we will be updating it as new resources are shared. Also, please share with us the ways you are working to provide services and support victims and survivors during this crisis. We have been hearing from service providers and advocates nationally looking for information, guidance and ideas. We are using this post to share those with you.

Resources for Information about COVID-19

As suggested by health experts, refer to and keep up-to-date with the developments and directives provided by both the CDC and the World Health Organization as well as your state and local public health departments. Explore additional resources provided by NCADV’s partner organizations like the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Futures Without Violence.

Clean Frequently and Reinforce Recommended Procedures

Employ and reinforce everyday, basic protective measures against the virus such as social distancing and frequent hand-washing. Follow sanitation guidelines for infectious diseases as outlined in this toolkit from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence suggests that if you are unable to find supplies such as hand sanitizer or other hygiene and cleaning products, contact your local health department.

Encourage Those Who are Sick to Stay Home

Encourage employees who are sick to remain at home. Evaluate your leave policies if necessary and, if possible, adjust them to accommodate those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, who have contracted it, or who are caring for others during this crisis. If you are able, cross-train employees to ensure appropriate coverage and consider allowing employees to work remotely. See the CDC’s interim guidance for businesses and employers for more information or contact your local employers council. You can also find more information on the websites of the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding state and federal workplace laws and HR policies and practices.

Adjust Your Operations if Possible

Many organizations and programs nationally are implementing remote and mobile advocacy options, operating short-staffed, and/or suspending some in-person services. One California shelter program shared that they are preparing to offer shelter residents the option to remain in the shelter building without shelter staff physically present; staff is readily available via video and phone to offer assistance. This program is also providing taxi vouchers to address transportation needs. While we realize these measures may not be a feasible option for many programs or shelters, remote and mobile advocacy is a viable alternative to in-person advocacy. NNEDV provides excellent information about remote and mobile advocacy as well as a digital services toolkit.

Impacts on Funding

If you have questions about the impact of adjusting services on your grants and other funding, reach out to your appropriate funding administrator or contract manager. They can provide further guidance and information. 

Other Things to Consider

If your organization has the capacity to do so, form a response committee whose purpose is to coordinate your organization’s response plan and connect with other community partners to strengthen essential services and/ or develop additional responses as appropriate. Engage everyone you know in helping - volunteers, friends and family may be willing to lend time, talent and resources to your service response and shore up your program capacity. During this time stress is high and, as we know, people respond differently in times of crisis. Do what you can to take care of yourself as you take care of others. Find more information here. 

NCADV is collaborating with other national organizations to provide you with as much information and support as possible during this challenging time. We encourage you to visit the websites of the organizations listed below:

Futures Without Violence

The National Network to End Domestic Violence

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

The National Alliance to End Homelessness

Texas Council on Domestic Violence

California Partnership on Domestic Violence

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

As stated earlier, we encourage you to share with NCADV the ways in which you are responding to COVID-19 and how you have minimized its impact on service provision. We appreciate all that you do every day and especially how you are adjusting your services and support of victims and survivors during this crisis. We will be updating this blog post as we receive further information about the trajectory of COVID-19, as you provide information about your creative and groundbreaking solutions, and as the federal government takes steps to address the impacts of COVID-19 that may impact direct service providers, advocates and survivors. 

Posted by Lynn Brewer-Muse at 4:17 PM
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