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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 

Family Violence Council:

Addressing Violence throughout the Lifespan



Thursday, January 15, 2009

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

400 McAllister St.Room 617

San Francisco, CA 94102


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: Lt. Molly Pengel


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


Sheriff, or designee: Ms. Delia Ginorio


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


Chief of Adult Probation, or designee: 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. Ilsa BertoliniFamily 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. (m/s/c: Twomey, Ginorio/Unanimous)



Members and participants introduced themselves and their agency affiliation.


III.       APPROVAL OF MINUTES            

Action: Approved the meeting minutes from October 16, 2008. (m/s/c: Dodd/Baxter/Unanimous)


IV.       OLD BUSINESS                                                                                


A.        Photo Documentation of Injuries

Dr. Leigh Kimberg presented on her progress in updating photo documentation protocols.  In a review of many agencies documenting family violence injuries for law enforcement and prosecution purposes, Dr. Kimberg found that most had no written policies on the taking, storage, or handling of digital images.  The Department of Public Health does this often, and would like to be involved in any process to develop protocols.  In addition to the procedures for handling the digital evidence, Dr. Kimberg also stated a need for training on how to take good, usable photographs that will be admissible in court.  Often advocates, nurses, or others documenting injuries take photos that are too washed out by a flash or indistinguishable, and they are not useable as evidence.  The UC Davis Forensic Training Center has a program to train individuals on forensic photography skills.  Trainings can accommodate up to 20 individuals.  DPH staff members need to be trained by April, as they are already out of Polaroid film and must transition to digital as soon as possible.  The Family Violence Council may set up a July and/or fall training for community advocates, as interest dictates.  The training costs $100 per person.  APS, DA, and Sheriff all expressed an interest.  Dr. Kimberg also asked if any agencies have a protocol for the handling of digital photos, and if so, to contact her.  Beverly Upton suggested a goal of each of the member agencies of the Family Violence Council having a written protocol for digital photo documentation of injuries by January 2010. 




A.        Child Support Services Update

Sheryl Meyers of Child Support Services reported on its completed transition to a new computerized client data tracking system implemented by the state.  CSS collaborates with Human Services Agency on many cases, including those involving domestic violence.  CSS offers services to mothers, fathers, and grandparents, and handles a current load of 23,000 cases.  In cases of kinship care (i.e. grandparents as legal guardians), both the mother and father are responsible for child support payments.  This includes both welfare and non-welfare cases (families enrolled in Cal-WORKS automatically have CSS cases opened).  Transitions in data tracking can lead to cases falling through cracks, but CSS provided significant training and have had very few problems since the new system went online in October 2008. 


CSS workers use a form on intake that is provided by the state, but have been trained to ask probing questions about the existence of violence in the home.  If there are restraining orders in place, or if there are indicators of violence in a home, or if there is “good cause” (i.e. rape or incest), a case is automatically closed by the system or flagged by the system for closure.  Workers can view those flags and follow-up with families to determine if case should be re-opened. 


B.        Report on Family Violence in San Francisco

Members discussed the draft Report and offered a number of edits and suggestions which will be reflected in the updated version.  Some general comments and questions include the following:

  • Participants wonder if there could be a 911 code for child abuse and/or elder abuse would be possible to implement.  Dispatchers receive specific training on child and elder abuse several times each year, but calls of this type are not documented as such.  The Domestic Violence Safety and Accountability Audit conducted in 2006 by the Department on the Status of Women recommended a code for domestic violence stalking, as it is critical for this type of crime to be documented right from the beginning to ensure it follows the right pathway through the criminal justice system.  This 911 code was implemented during 2008.  The Council will follow up with the Department of Emergency Management to ascertain the viability of new codes for child and elder abuse.
  • In looking at SFPD statistics, it is important to understand the caseloads.  The 2 family violence divisions are reportedly understaffed, and the Report should indicate what that means (i.e. how much time can be devoted to each case, what gets lost with short staffing, etc.). 
  • The Report should include statistics from Adult Probation and from the Victim Services Unit of the DA’s Office.  Additionally, since 30% of elder abuse is financial in nature, statistics about financial abuse of elders should be solicited from the Fraud units. 
  • In looking at the DA’s statistics, a member asked how San Francisco compares to other counties.  Jim Rowland of the DA’s Office informed the group that it is impossible to compare counties, as so much relies on the arrest and referral policies of the police department. 
  • Cases may have been resolved in Civil Court, such as Probate Court for elder abuse, Family Court for restraining orders, or Dependency Court for child abuse.  There are other options for victims besides criminal proceedings.  Some Family Court statistics may overlap with Criminal Court, but should be included in the Report nonetheless.  Members wonder if there might be Administrative Office of the Courts money to track the overlap (and possible falling through the cracks) of family violence cases in Criminal and Civil Courts. 


Though there is more information that could be included in the report with additional time, the need for this data during the budget negotiation process is critical, and the Report should be released by the end of the month. 


C.        Intervention Services

This agenda item was tabled until next month for lack of time.


D.        Current Trends in Family Violence/Announcements


1.         U-Visas Signed by Police Department

Lt. Pengel of the SFPD provided a brief overview of the status of U-Visas for victims of domestic violence. Previously, these visas were not being signed due to liability concerns at SFPD.  This meant that even if an immigrant victim of domestic violence qualified for a visa, the process would be stalled at the signature stage (which affirms that that victim was cooperating with law enforcement).  With Lt. Pengel’s advocacy, SFPD Inspectors have begun signing completed U-Visa applications.  They will not fill out the applications, and will send back incomplete or incorrect applications, but will sign correct and complete applications brought by victims.  This is an important accomplishment in ensuring the safety of immigrant survivors of violence.


2.         Department on the Status of Women Announcements

  • The Department released its 2009 Directory of Social Services for Women in San Francisco.  A limited supply of printed versions is available at the Department office, or the Directory can be accessed on the Department’s website. 
  • Mayor mentioned the Family Violence Council in the State of the City Address in November 2008 during the segment on violence prevention. 
  • The Department will be hosting a Budget Advocacy Roundtable as a follow-up to the September 2008 Women’s Policy Summit.  It will be on February 10, 2009, 8:30 am – 11:00 am at 1 S. Van Ness Ave.  Details will be emailed shortly.
  • The Department is involved in the planning of a convening of anti-human trafficking service providers, which will be held on February 24, 2009, at the Milton Marks Auditorium in the State Building.


VI.       PUBLIC COMMENT                                                           

Sarah Curtin is the new outreach and training coordinator at SafeStart, and is available to provide trainings about the effects of exposure to violence on children.  Training topics include how to work with children exposed to violence, how to help parents limit exposure to violence, and how to support the healing process.  Trainings are available in English and Spanish. 


VII.      ADJOURNMENT                                                     

The Family Violence Council adjourned at 4:35 pm.


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