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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 

Family Violence Council:

Addressing Violence throughout the Lifespan



Thursday, April 16, 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. Mary Counihan


Mayor, or designee: Ms. Catherine Dodd


Director of DCYF, or designee: Ms. Kimberly Ganade


President of the Board of Supervisors, or designee


Director of Child Support Services, or designee: Ms. Sheryl Meyers


District Attorney, or designee: Ms. Maria Bee


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


Chief of Police, or designee: Cpt.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: Acting Chief Patrick Boyd


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. Simin Shamji


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


Superintendent of SF Unified School District, or designee: Ms. Laurie VargasFamily 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 3:15 pm.

Action: Approved the agenda with no changes.



Members and participants introduced themselves and their agency affiliation. Several had announcements to share.

·         April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and May is Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

·         Sheryl Meyers invited any community partners from the Family Violence Council to train the Child Support Services staff members on a variety of topics, including child abuse, elder abuse, domestic violence, etc.

·         The District Attorney’s Victim’s Rights Week will be the last week in April, and the DA will be celebrating with the 5th Annual Justice Awards on April 27, 2009.

·         The school district has rolled out a new curriculum for child witnesses of domestic violence.  Contact Laurie Vargas for more information.

·         The annual SafeStart Training Event will be on Saturday, May 2, 2009, 10am – 2pm.  It will be aimed at early childhood educators, day care providers, and childcare staff, providing workshops on the effects of violence on children and effective intervention practices.  Contact for details.


III.       APPROVAL OF MINUTES            

Action: Approved the meeting minutes from January 15, 2009. (m/s/c: Shamji/Upton/Unanimous)


IV.       OLD BUSINESS                                                                                

A.        Photo Documentation of Injuries

Dr. Leigh Kimberg and others from DPH attended an all-day training at UC Davis on digital photography aimed primarily at sexual assault responders.  UC Davis has created digital photography protocols that will likely be appropriate for medical and law enforcement agencies, but may be too rigorous for community clinics and CBOs.  The first training here in San Francisco will be piloted on April 29, 2009.  It is currently 2/3 full with healthcare providers, and Dr. Kimberg expects that it will be at capacity by the training date.  If the pilot is successful, the UC Davis trainers can return for additional trainings, and can tailor that training to the audience (i.e. police officers at a crime scene, etc.).  Dr. Kimberg invited one of the members of the steering committee to view the training on April 29 to determine if it is appropriate for community providers.  The workshop has 2 primary components:  discussion of protocols and practical aspects of photo-taking.  A suggestion was made to teleconference this training, once it is perfected, though it is unclear how well the practical photo-taking aspects will translate to the teleconference format.  The protocols conveyed in the training take into account the court’s needs (such as sequential photos and archived original files to prove no tampering has occurred). 


B.        Report on Family Violence in San Francisco

The Report on Family Violence in San Francisco is still in draft form, though the steering committee is excited about its upcoming release.  The steering committee met with the Mayor’s senior staff members earlier in April, and the Mayor’s Office is reviewing the report.  Supervisor Alioto-Pier will be hosting a hearing on violence against women in San Francisco in May, and the steering committee will use this forum to present the information in the report to the Board of Supervisors.  It is the hope of the steering committee that the report will have an impact at all levels of government.  The assertion is that family violence has a huge impact on the City as a whole.  This report will be a good baseline for upcoming annual reports, as the Council attempts to strengthen it with data from new sources not currently referenced.  It is also important to give credit to those agencies doing the work out in the community, and to highlight their achievements, too, such as Child Support Services or the school district.  When JUSTIS comes online, it can be used to create a monthly or quarterly dashboard to show trends as they are happening, rather than a year or more later.    Currently, the report does not include data from the Medical Examiner or the death review teams.  However, there will be a regional death review report released in the next couple months, and this will lead to a family violence death review report.  The numbers are staggering, and the steering committee hopes that the release of the Report on Family Violence and these other reports will be a wake-up call.



A.        Intervention Services

Art Faro of the Adult Probation Department (APD) provided an overview of Probation’s role in batterer intervention.  Batterer Intervention Program (BIP) standards were set by state legislation in 1994.  In 2001, APD asked members of the original Family Violence Council’s BIP Subcommittee (no longer a formal committee) to review the process for certification of BIPs.  APD formed a Community Advisory Committee (BIP-CAC) to review the 11 certified programs in 2002.  No new programs have been certified since 2002, and there are currently only 8 BIPs in San Francisco.  This is largely because there are not enough clients in San Francisco to sustain many programs.  There are currently 500 probationers on the rolls, and 50% are engaged in one of the 8 BIPs.  There are about 20 new probation cases each month, but not all probationers show up or participate in the programs.  Those that don’t have a bench warrant issued and are placed in jail.  Because of low enrollment, 2 BIPs stopped providing services last year. 


Most probationers use free or low-cost services (Sheriff’s program or Center for Special Problems).  The average group size at the BIPs is 14-15 men, though the programs may also serve clients from other counties occasionally.  The BIPs have come a long way in the past 10 years, and APD has instituted many new practices recently to improve oversight and accountability.  APD has just rolled out electronic progress reports (certain programs have only recently developed the capacity to use computers and do electronic reporting). 


Probation mandates that domestic violence probationers attend a 52-week program within 18 months of assignment.  All but 2 programs charge a sliding-scale fee for services.  There are requirements about the number of absences allowed during the 52-week program.  APD hopes to use the electronic reporting and more regular feedback from BIPs to address issues like absences before probationers reach the limit and are sent to jail.  However, often probationers balk at the time-frame of the BIP, and request that they go to jail instead. 


It must be noted that domestic violence is the only violent crime where offenders can go home in the evening while they carry out their sentence.  Attendance at once-weekly meetings for a year should be a firm rule in place of imprisonment.  However, jail time for domestic violence may only be 6 months.  Though those offenders will undergo the Sheriff’s BIP (Resolve to Stop the Violence Program – RSVP), this would be only half of the requirement should the offender be out on probation.  Once that person has completed the 6-month jail stay, s/he has fully completed the sentence, and will no longer be under the supervision of APD, and will not be required to complete the remaining 6 months of the BIP (except voluntarily). 


Some Spanish-language programs have had success in outreaching to those communities about their services, and some report a 40% voluntary participation rate (i.e. not mandated by the courts or APD).  It is possible that having a 1-stop shop may be one way to increase completion rates.  By connecting the BIP with the child visitation center, child support center, reunification office, etc., it becomes more of a integral facet of that person’s life, rather than something completely separate and overly burdensome. 


Completion rates have historically been terrible.  Several years ago, a study was done on completion rates that found they were at about 20%. If probation is revoked and the probationer is sent to jail, this is counted as a non-completion. We know these rates have improved some based on the changes made at APD.  APD will provide the current rate at the next meeting.  The FVC would like to see the number ordered to attend programs, the number that actually attends and completes, the number that has probation revoked for not attending, and the number that doesn’t complete because probation was revoked for another reason. 


Whatever the completion rate is, it is also important to determine if the 52-week model works and prevents recidivism.  A meeting participant announced that Judge Mary Morgan, who oversees the Domestic Violence Criminal Court, would like to do a study of recidivism among BIP participants, and is looking for a legal intern to do this work over the summer.  Commissioner Slabach indicated that she has had numerous defendants in family court who she has referred to a BIP, and they have told her they have already completed a 52-week program.  Most experts say that the best way to make a BIP effective is through a swift, predictable response from the community and the criminal justice system.  Specific modalities (i.e. the content and style of the BIP) have not been evaluated, but San Francisco has a number of modalities in operation at the 8 different BIPs providing services, which could be valuable if an evaluation of modalities was conducted.  However, recidivism cannot be fully analyzed without the data tracking capabilities of JUSTIS. 


APD has new policies in place to examine cases and increase completion.  Quarterly case reviews look in depth at absences, completions, new Motions to Revoke filed, etc.  A participant asked what outreach APD and BIPs do to the victim’s of probationers.  It is in the statute that BIPs must outreach to victims, and the BIP-CAC created a standardized letter that gets sent out when a probationer enrolls in a BIP.  However, most victims are not available or cannot be found. 


Maggie Donahue of the Human Services Agency provided information about child abuse intervention programs.  Similar to the 52-week BIP, California has a statute mandating a 52-week intervention program for individuals convicted of child abuse.  San Francisco does not operate this type of program (not all counties comply with the statute).  Most child abuse cases go through Child Protective Services (CPS), and the parents are assigned to parenting courses as a part of the treatment plans developed with case workers.   CPS has been in discussions with the Center for Special Problems about developing a 52-week program, but as this agency’s funding has been drastically cut in the past year, this may not be viable.  Most of the CPS and Court-referred parenting programs are 12 weeks long, and the curricula are not evidence-based. 


CPS has a new model for all its programs, and will be implementing changes in parenting education in the coming months.  With Community Behavioral Health Services (CBHS) and other mental health providers through DPH, CPS will begin implementing the Incredible Years curriculum into parenting courses.  This curriculum is funded by First 5, and is an evidence-based intervention.  Its focus is on collaborating with parents to build parenting skills and competencies around play and rewards, limit-setting, and appropriate use of sanctions.  Groups are currently being run in 5 locations and in 3 languages.  The curriculum has been adapted to be more appropriate for diverse families, and to deal with issues of past and current parent violence within the group.  In analyzing outcomes from the pilot of this curriculum, CPS found that children whose parents attended these groups had much better mental health outcomes, and, on average, children who had clinically significant behavior problems before the intervention had behavior problems below the clinical threshold after the intervention (a reduction of about 20%).  Implementation of an evidence-based program requires a substantial outlay of resources, but can result in excellent outcomes for families when thoughtful adaptations are implemented through ongoing evaluation and rapid feedback. HSA will continue with this pilot by specifically targeting high-risk parents and children.  For more information about this program, contact Nathaniel Israel at 


Simin Shamji presented information about a jail-based parenting curriculum called “Parenting Inside and Out.”  This is a certified, 12-week program that inmates participate in to be able to have child visitation while in custody.  It has proven very successful thus far. 


Because of time constraints, a full discussion of the intersection of the intervention strategies for child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse was not possible.  The steering committee recommended an ad hoc intervention committee to more closely examine the intervention strategies outside of the standing FVC meeting time.  For example, there is no BIP specific for elder abuse.  Is this something the Aging community wants?  How can best practices from the domestic violence and child abuse programs be used to create a stronger system of intervention for all family violence crimes?  Laura Marshall will set up a committee meeting prior to the next Family Violence Council meeting in July 2009 for all those interested in furthering this discussion. 


B.        Current Trends in Family Violence/Announcements

Members noted a rise in media requests for information, primarily asking if there is a rise in reports of abuse because of the financial crisis.  Kathy Baxter indicated that the SCAN team has seen a rise in child physical abuse cases (they have historically seen more sexual abuse cases than physical abuse).  Erika Falk of the Institute on Aging commented that they have received information about a rash of sweetheart financial scams, with younger women asking older men for money for a medical emergency of some sort.  IOA is planning a bus shelter campaign to combat these financial scams.


The domestic violence community is embarking on a new partnership with Project Homeless Connect, after a very successful event with Project Family Connect. 


Dr. Emily Murase brought to the group’s attention information about the newest piece of legislation protecting victims of domestic violence.  Supervisor Carmen Chu introduced an ordinance to create a domestic violence protection from eviction, and State Senator Leland Yee will be taking this same legislation to the Senate this summer. 


VI.       PUBLIC COMMENT                                                           



VII.      ADJOURNMENT                                                     

The Family Violence Council adjourned at 4:35 pm.


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