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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 

Family Violence Council: 

Addressing Violence throughout the Lifespan


Intervention Committee


Thursday, September 10, 2009

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

25 Van Ness Avenue, Room 330-A



Kathy Baxter, SF Child Abuse Prevention Center

Maria Bee, DA’s Office

Patrick Boyd, Adult Probation Department

Julius De Guia, DA’s Office

Arturo Faro, Adult Probation Department

Minouche Kandel, Bay Area Legal Aid

Laura Marshall, DOSW

Stephanie Romney, Parent Training Institute (DPH)

Karen Roye Child Support Services

Mariya Taher, DOSW

Mary Twomey, UC Irvine Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse

Beverly Upton, Domestic Violence Consortium


I.          Call to Order/Agenda Changes


The meeting was called to order at 2:00 pm.  Because of scheduling conflicts of participants, the agenda was shortened to end at 3:45.


II.        Introductions


See list of participants above.




A.                 Overview of Intervention Services


Though there is a mandated 1-year intervention counseling program built into the CA Penal Code, a brief survey shows that most Bay Area Counties do not offer this to individuals convicted of child abuse. Santa Clara County does have a child abuse intervention program overseen by its Adult Probation Department.  Currently, one probation officer is conducting certification for both the child abuse and domestic violence programs.  San Diego County also has a well-developed child abuse intervention program system.


In San Francisco specifically, as there is no formal 1-year child abuse intervention program, Ms. Baxter indicated that she had hoped Center for Special Problems would be able to run such a group.  However, that program has been so seriously diminished through budget cuts that this doesn’t seem feasible.  This is the only free Batterer Intervention Program in the city, and it is clear that most clients seen by child abuse prevention agencies cannot afford to pay for services. However, the Center for Special Problems has been moved into a shared space with Swords to Plowshares, and new partnership opportunities may come out of this proximity.  The Center needs space for confidential groups of 10-20 participants, as well as space for confidential records.


Stephanie Romney informed the group that HSA is rolling out the training for Family Resource Centers of the Triple P model, which, as discussed at the last full Family Violence Council meeting [see July 16, 2009 minutes for specifics], has been shown to reduce recidivism and the occurrence of child abuse. The Family Resource Centers will begin offering the P3 model this fall, including to those parents referred as part of their child welfare case.  However, this model, and others currently in use in the community, are only appropriate for physical abuse or neglect, and are not appropriate for parent sexual abusers. 


One of the challenges that the Committee struggled with was the “culture” of child abuse intervention.  Child abuse is more frequently handled civilly rather than criminally.  Law enforcement and child protective services have differing aims when intervening in child abuse.  The law enforcement response is often seen as “punishment,” whereas CPS workers generally focus on family reunification and look for interventions that facilitate that end. It was noted that even the bulk of domestic violence cases go through the civil court proceedings rather than criminal court.  Because of this, it will be important to include the civil court in discussions of intervention programs. There is a general resistance to “criminalizing” child abuse, similar to the early days of the domestic violence movement, when it was seen as more of a family matter, to be addressed in family court, rather than a crime. 


There is cross-reporting of every child abuse case between the Police Department and CPS. Any call that comes through the CPS reporting line gets documented on a form. Every day, a police officer goes to the CPS office and picks up a stack of the reporting forms. In case conferences, if law enforcement defers or refers a case to CPS, there is generally no further follow-up with law enforcement as to the disposition of that case.  The DA’s Office also sees each of these reporting forms (there are about 5,000 calls to CPS each year).  However, Mr. De Guia is not able to investigate or move forward in prosecution on his own.  He can only suggest that law enforcement investigate cases he deems important to follow up on.  The Committee proposed two potential next steps: Tools should be developed to allow law enforcement to do a more rigorous assessment of cases.  Additionally, technology should be developed to facilitate the cross-reporting of cases. The group does not believe there is a child abuse module built into JUSTIS, which could help.


The group discussed ways to get around or dismantle this culture of resistance to a law enforcement response to child abuse. An intervention program may be seen as a “carrot,” another option for a person accused of child abuse other than the “stick” of jail time.  Because an intervention program would support a CPS worker’s goal of reunification, workers may be more inclined to include and encourage law enforcement in cases where criminal charges are warranted. A major goal of this Committee must, therefore, be coordination of the City’s purpose (reunification vs. accountability). 


The Penal Code requires a 1-year intervention program, but does not mandate 52-weeks or other specifics as it does for domestic violence.  Stephanie Romney pointed out that several studies have shown that the bulk of learning and change happens in the first 3 sessions of many programs.  This is not to say that only 3 weeks are needed, but it would be important to ensure that any program does not over-serve clients.  Most parenting programs, including P3, are 12 weeks. The 1-year time-frame in the mandate is helpful, because it allows for monitoring and oversight: for example, a 12-week intervention program, with monthly check-in meetings for the remainder of the year to ensure that change has occurred and the child is safe.


According to Chief Boyd, there are 3 primary reasons to create this program:

1.       The group has true belief in the evidence of such a program, and believe it will have a positive impact on families and the community;

2.       Monitoring will minimize harm to children by providing warning to law enforcement/CPS; and,

3.       Such a program is required by law.


Though the mandate does not provide funding or a clear definition, Chief Boyd does not want to be out of compliance, even with the very small number of probationers in this group.


Ms. Upton offered a caution from her experience in working with BIPs: The “carrot and stick” idea was the original intention, providing another option to Das to bargain with. However, the current climate sees every defendant going to trial rather than opting for the BIP, and it is harder to get a conviction at trial with recent changes to the law, meaning that very few defendants are going to BIPs.  Mr. De Guia informed the group that this is often the case in child abuse as well.  For example, even if a person receives a child abuse conviction, judges often give the same sentence as would have been given if the case was pled down from the start, making the “stick” of jail time very rarely enforced.


Probation and an intervention program would only be offered in misdemeanor cases rather than extreme cases of abuse, such as torture or sexual abuse.


The Committee discussed the need to include more programming related to parenting within the BIP curriculum.  About 5 years ago, the community and APD conducted an audit of BIPs, and as a result recommended that parenting education be included.  However, most of these probationers would benefit from more than just 1 session of parenting during the 52 weeks.


A participant asked whether restraining orders were issued in cases of child abuse, and was informed that they are, including EPOs from the Police, stay away orders from the court, and no-contact orders filed by the DA during a case.


B.                 Best Practices for San Francisco – Brainstorming and Prioritizing


San Diego has a well-developed model of child abuse intervention programs, supervised by its Adult Probation Department.  Some participants thought that the program itself was run through the local United Way.  Participants suggested taking a close look at this program, and also to investigate how it connects and interacts with other city agencies.  Any program model adopted by San Francisco must fit within the landscape of this specific City.  As it would be easier to sell stakeholders on this idea if there is reliable data proving it works, participants also suggested looking into whether studies have been done on its ability to reduce recidivism, perhaps checking with the Child and Adolescent Research Center based in San Diego. 


Because their roles are so integral to this project, the Committee will reach out to HSA and the Police Department to have representation at the next Intervention Committee meeting.


There are still a number of vital questions to consider when determining a program to bring to San Francisco, including language and cultural competency, geographic location of program sites, what to do when the person is incarcerated, ensuring that a research component is included to determine effectiveness and recidivism.  These should all be addressed prior to implementation.


Because it is clear that the elder abuse movement is much behind that of child abuse, especially as there is no statute in the Penal Code mandating counseling or intervention programs in cases of elder abuse, it is especially important for San Francisco to stay ahead of the curve on this issue.  Any child abuse intervention program model should also be considered for its application in the elder abuse field. 


C.                 Next Steps in Improving Child Abuse and Elder Abuse Intervention Services


·         Art Faro will forward the various penal codes applicable to this discussion to Laura Marshall to be distributed to the group. 

·         Adult Probation, with assistance from DOSW, will contact San Diego Adult Probation to learn more about the model for child abuse intervention program oversight.

·         Beverly Upton will contact the domestic violence shelters/programs in Santa Clara and San Diego Counties for further information about their role in intervention programs.

·         Stephanie Romney will forward the CDC research recently released about the efficacy of the Triple P model in South Carolina to be distributed to the group.

·         Laura Marshall will reach out to the Police Department, CPS, APS, and Community Works to have their feedback and participation at the next Intervention Committee meeting.

·         Laura Marshall will distribute the recent (approx. 2004) audit of BIPs


The next meeting of the Intervention Committee will be on Thursday, November 12, 2009, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm at 25 Van Ness (room TBD).  At this meeting, the group will review the results of the research into other counties’ best practices to determine how they can be used in San Francisco.


IV.       Public Comment




V.         Adjournment  


The meeting adjourned at 3:45 pm.


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