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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 

Family Violence Council: 

Addressing Violence throughout the Lifespan



Thursday, August 13, 2009

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm


Members Present (denoted with x):


Presiding Judge, or designee: Commissioner Marjorie Slabach


Director of Dept. of Aging and Adult Services, or designee: Ms. Teresa Guillen


Mayor, or designee: Ms. Catherine Dodd


Director of DCYF, or designee: Mr. Derik Aoki


President of the Board of Supervisors, or designee


Director of Child Support Services, or designee: Mr. Vallan Tyree


District Attorney, or designee: Mr. Jim Rowland


Director of Domestic Violence Consortium, or designee: Ms. Beverly Upton


Chief of Police, or designee: Capt. John Ehrlich


Director of Consortium for Elder Abuse Prevention, or designee: Ms. Mary Twomey


Sheriff, or designee: Delia Ginorio


Director of San Francisco Child Abuse Council, or designee: Ms. Kathy Baxter


Chief of Adult Probation, or designee:Ms.Tina Gilbert


Chair of Batterer’s Intervention Programs Subcommittee: Mr. Antonio Ramirez


President of Commission on the Status of Women, or designee: Ms. Andrea Evans



Director of Animal Care and Control, or designee: Ms. Vicky Guldbech

Public Defender, or designee: Ms. Inna Verdiyan


Chief of Department of Emergency Management, or designee: Deputy Director Lisa Hoffmann


Superintendent of SF Unified School District, or designee: Ms. Laurie Vargas Family Violence Council Staff Present:


Director of Dept of Public Health, or designee: Dr. Leigh Kimberg


Administrative Analyst Laura Marshall, Department on the Status of Women


Director of Human Services Agency, or designee: Ms. Maggie Donahue



Executive Director Dr. Emily Murase, Department on the Status of Women


I.          CALL TO ORDER/ AGENDA CHANGES               

Kathy Baxter called the meeting to order at 3:10 pm.

Action: Approved the agenda with no changes.



Members and participants introduced themselves and their agency affiliation.


Captain John Erhlich of the Police Department provided an update on statistics from the Domestic Violence Response Unit.  Though many think that there has been a significant increase in domestic violence and family violence due to the recession, the DVRU has had a decrease in cases compared to this time last year, and has more bookings.  It was noted that the 911 call numbers remain fairly consistent year to year, as well, but that community-based hotline call loads have increased.  Dr. Murase reported that anecdotal evidence suggests that women are even less likely to use the criminal justice system for domestic violence during the recession because there are fewer options for housing and resources if they leave the violent relationship.  The group also briefly discussed the homicide statistics, which are at 50% of the rate from this time last year, a significant decrease.  Capt. Erhlich explained the community policing model that has helped decrease the homicides.




Beverly Upton shared a brief article about the First Comprehensive Report on Family Violence in San Francisco, 2009 that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.  It is unclear how the Examiner came across the Report.  The Department has attempted without success to track down the author, primarily to correct a mistake made in the article.  It reported that the Family Violence Council is made up of mayoral appointees, when in fact, the Council membership is determined by legislation.  Certain members are department heads under the Mayor, and others are community members, and departments not overseen by the Mayor (Sheriff, District Attorney, Board of Supervisors, Courts). 



Some clarifications of the information contained in the Report were needed.  For instance, Mr. De Guia of the DA’s Office wondered if the SFPD Juvenile Division statistics included misdemeanors or if they only counted felony cases.  Captain Erhlich did not know for certain, but thought it likely that the number given (513) was just felony cases of child abuse.


To frame the broader discussion, Ms. Twomey asked the group to think about the next Report, considering what content in the current Report was helpful, and what the group though people should or may need to know. 


Sonia Melara of Rally Visitation Services raised the issue of duplication of counting within the Report.  This issue was raised in the context of the need to work toward a City-wide case management system to better track clients, client needs, services clients are receiving, and other factors.  This would be an incredibly complex system to implement, taking into account the need for confidentiality and the vast array of community services and access points available within San Francisco.  Given that it is unlikely such a system would be implemented in the near future, Ms. Melara recommended that a disclaimer be added to the reporting indicating areas where duplication of individual counts may exist. 


The group noted that such duplication does not exist within the criminal justice statistics, as they are tracking calls or cases rather than individuals.  Though it would be good to also know how many unduplicated individuals are involved in the cases investigated by the police department, that information is not consistently, or readily, available.


Adult Protective Services is implementing a new computer system to track cases. This system will allow APS to track and report on both the number of calls and the number of individuals those calls relate to.  It will also allow APS and the Elder Death Review Team to track alleged abusers. DPH has electronic case management tracking systems for homeless clients.  This is a possible model to use for tracking domestic violence victims.


Mr. Vallan Tyree of Child Support Services wondered if tracking is possible by geographic area, which would help in ascribing cause or drawing conclusions.  Though this data is available for several entities, namely the Police Department and 911, Ms. Twomey stated that the Report deliberately avoided drawing specific conclusions, as that is more the role of formal researchers. 


In review of the Report, many have raised the issue of services or specific providers whose data is not included.  The group was asked to consider whether future reports should include any and all community-based programs, or only those that specifically focus on abuse, as was the decision in the 2009 version.  Members made the recommendation to include a “Civil” section for those individuals who did not pursue criminal charges of domestic violence, but have interacted with the legal system in other ways and are known to be victims of domestic violence.  Ms. Melara raised Rally Visitation Services and the Unified Family Court as an example of this.  Some women will not engage a criminal justice response.  However, during custody proceedings in the course of a divorce, many women will indicate that there has been domestic violence in the home and request supervised visitation for that reason.  Ms. Melara reported that 75% of the client families at Rally have experienced domestic violence.  Child Support Services has a similar statistics (75%).  Such statistics would possibly be duplicated:  in the absence of a City-wide case management system discussed above, it would be impossible to track which families are using both Rally and Child Support Services, or any other social service with statistics included in the Report.  However, including statistics for these agencies, as well as HSA’s CalWORKS Domestic Violence Office statistics, would show the prevalence of the issue, indicating how many facets of the entire community family violence affects.


A primary goal of the Report is to help City policy makers to see family violence as more detrimental and damaging to the community as a whole than street crime. The decision about what data to include can influence whether this goal is achieved. 


Dr. Leigh Kimberg of the Department of Public Health (DPH) pointed out that there are large deficits in that department’s data collection protocols.  She raised the idea that for the next Report, the Council should ask each represented department to provide 3-4 of their own department-specific recommendations to be addressed.


Dr. Kimberg also expressed some challenges for DPH regarding data collection.  For example, billing notices automatically include information regarding the diagnosis.  This can be especially dangerous in cases of family violence if a batterer sees that a victim has been seeking medical assistance and informing that system about the family violence occurring in the home.  This issue would need to be worked out in conjunction with any efforts to encourage increased collection of prevalence data.  An additional challenge is that DPH has not fully transitioned to an electronic system in general, making data collection time consuming for practitioners. 


Antonio Ramirez of POCOVI suggested that the next report not expand too much or the impact and nuances will be lost.  Instead, he suggested that a future report include more subtle recommendations, such as what Dr. Kimberg proposed.  With those, other groups and the community could plug themselves into the areas that they best fit. 


Catherine Dodd of the Mayor’s Office recommended a quarterly dashboard to truly develop trendline data.  However, it is important to ensure that indicators tracked on a quarterly basis are appropriate, relevant, and informative.  Some participants suggested doing further study to determine what information would be most useful.  Others suggested using Table 13 in the Report as a baseline for indicators to be tracked, but it may be overly simplistic.  For instance, the number of cases filed by the DA has been left off Table 13 (though that information has been included in the DA-specific table earlier in the Report), but this is important information to note.  What information is included can significantly alter the perspective a reader may use when analyzing the Report. 


Dr. Kimberg expressed some hesitation regarding mixed definitions of domestic violence, especially between the criminal justice system and the medical system.  For instance, the medical system will code any injury, however minor, as domestic violence, even if it may not be severe enough to be charged in the criminal justice system.  The Report, therefore, should include a disclaimer about definitions of violence and how they may differ between systems. 


Members suggested that the Report become the work of the Family Violence Council throughout the year.  It is important to educate the members of the Council about what all the numbers really mean.  As the Council is made up of disparate groups, often members are new to fields represented in the Report, and do not truly understand the significance of certain measures or data, or how it may impact or influence their own area.  Using the quarterly dashboards to track trends, the Council can also pinpoint key areas for further exploration, inviting members to explain what the information means.


The question of what to do with the data gathered through the Report or dashboards was continually raised by members throughout the meeting.  Because the mere gathering of this particular dataset is so new, members discussed finding trends before assigning cause or conclusions.  However, by using the Council meetings to develop the annual report through the dashboards and data analysis, included in that can be a discussion of what conclusions or recommendations can be drawn from the information.  The data can also be used in the budget development process. 


Next Steps:

The Family Violence Council will begin analyzing quarterly dashboard information at the October 15, 2009 meeting.  To begin, the dashboard will include the information on Table 13 of the Report, with the inclusion of “cases filed” from the DA’s Office.  Ms. Marshall of the Department on the Status of Women will collect this data for the first quarter of this year by creating and distributing a template for appropriate departments, including a space for accomplishments of note during that quarter.  Upon further review and discussion, the Council may expand, limit, or alter the indicators included in the dashboard to better reflect family violence trends and the response services offered in San Francisco. 


IV.       PUBLIC COMMENT                                                            


The Violence Prevention Plan initiative has moved from MOCJ to DCYF, and has received a 3-year ARRA grant.  Through this, a high-level policy analyst position is now available.


V.         ADJOURNMENT                                                     

The Family Violence Council adjourned at 4:40 pm.



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