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Public Policy & Systems Advocacy

DCADV’s policy and systems advocacy staff and volunteers work with government officials and agency leaders to inform policy, implement new laws, and assist program advocates on system issues including ensuring the voices of diverse victims are heard, keeping Delawareans safe in the workplace. addressing custody/visitation, confidentiality concerns, and more. A significant component of domestic violence advocacy involves reviewing, monitoring, and sometimes changing those societal systems, policies and laws that are vital to the safety and well-being of domestic violence victims and their children.

Our policy and systems advocacy work includes:

Engaging in Systems Advocacy Efforts

DCADV engages in systems advocacy and provides technical assistance to domestic violence service providers and others seeking assistance with DV related issues in a variety of ways, with the dual goals of improving victim safety and offender accountability.  We accomplish this through:

  • Actively participating in approximately 25 legal, governmental, and private nonprofit committees, task forces, and organizations;
  • Reviewing and analyzing police, court, governmental, and advocacy practices and policies;
  • Assessing and commenting on proposed legislation, current statutory provisions, and case law;
  • Suggesting and working to implement practice, policy, advocacy, legislative, and case law change;
  • Creating and disseminating information with the dual goal of extending our general community’s understanding of domestic violence and providing tools for domestic violence victims, survivors, and advocates.

Advocating at Legislative Hall

DCADV works collaboratively with Legislators and allied partner organizations and individuals on critical legislation.  DCADV coordinates the volunteer Legislative Advocacy Project (LEAP), which assists DCADV in its efforts to advance the safety of domestic violence victims/survivors and their children through effective legislative advocacy. The LEAP effort, often referred to as the phone/e-mail tree, engages volunteers from all walks of life throughout Delaware who support the mission to end domestic violence. LEAP informs and empowers volunteers by providing information about current issues being considered at the state or national level and giving them a means of reaching out quickly and effectively to those decision makers who write laws and allocate funding.

In the spring, DCADV sponsors an annual LEAP Advocacy Day in Dover, in which LEAP volunteers have the opportunity to learn about the legislative and advocacy process, sit in on a Legislative Session, and distribute information to Legislators.

Participating in the National Discussion

DCADV participates in the National Network to End Domestic Violence Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. every June, in which a team representing DCADV, Member Organizations, and victims’ voices learn about national advocacy and meet with Delaware’s U.S. Senators and Congressman about current issues and funding.

Ensuring Victims and Survivors are Heard

DCADV takes its role of representing the voice of victims very seriously. In all of our efforts, including training, public policy and systems advocacy, and public education, DCADV staff and volunteers seek input and guidance from victims and survivors and work to ensure our messages reflect the individuals we seek to empower.

DCADV’s WEAVER (Women Empowered Against Abuse in Every Relationship) Task Force and Women of Color Task Force help us hear these voices and reach out to others.

Fostering a Coordinated Community Response

DCADV provides training and has promoted the use of a risk assessment tool that helps police identify victims at high risk for injury or death. The goal of the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP), created by Dr. Jackie Campbell of John Hopkins University and implemented by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, is to connect victims at the highest risk of being killed or seriously injured by their intimate partner with local domestic violence crisis services immediately. This program creates a critical partnership between first responders and domestic violence hotlines, and has been extremely successful in Maryland (Learn about Maryland’s Lethality Assessment Program). The LAP has been implemented statewide in Delaware. 

Economic Justice

In recent years, DCADV has expanded its policy and systems advocacy work to include economic justice advocacy as critical for victims in abusive relationships.  DCADV provides economic justice training and technical assistance, identifies community resources, and participates in committees and task forces that focus on economic justice issues.  DCADV believes that this work is vital to the ability of domestic violence victims to be safe and to be financially independent.

Financial abuse occurs in 98% of abusive relationships and is the reason 7 our of 8 victims return to abusive relationships.  Economic abuse forces women to choose between staying in an abusive relationship or face poverty and/or homelessness.

Economic abuse involves behaviors that control a woman's ability to acquire, use, and maintain economic resources, thus threatening her economic security and ability to be self-sufficient.

A grant through the Allstate Foundation supports an innovative program involving DCADV, CHILD, Inc., the SAFE and Abriendo Puertas shelter programs at People's Place, and the YWCA of Delaware.  This program, "Women in Charge of their Financial Futures," provides training on the Allstate Financial Management curriculum to survivors, runs credit reports/scores, helps establish savings goals, assists with opening savings accounts, offers incentives for saving, and provides a matching funds program.

Domestic Violence and Workplace Prevention

Domestic violence affects victims in every area of their lives, including the workplace.  At one time, employers may have thought of domestic violence as something that was not their concern; a "private family matter" that should not be brought to work.  However, as societal awareness of domestic violence has grown in recent years, employers and labor organizations now realize that domestic violence affects people in the workplace in many ways that have direct bearing on productivity and effectiveness.  As a result, employers are starting to seek help in developing policies and programs to deal with the human resources issues, workplace safety and security, and employee training and education needs raised by domestic violence.

In 2000, Delaware was among one of 14 states selected by the Family Violence Prevention Fund to participate in the development of a national strategy to address domestic violence in the workplace.  The Corporate Citizenship Initiative, in collaboration with the Family Violence Prevention Fund, developed a Model Domestic Violence Policy, which may be adopted as a unified domestic violence policy or its component parts may be integrated into already existing related policies an/or guidelines. 

In 2010, DCADV successfully worked with Delaware Governor Jack Markell's office to help develop a state domestic violence workplace policy.  Upon implementation, DCADV staff trained human resource managers charged with carrying out this policy, which aims to protect state employees from domestic violence.  In 2015, Governor Markell signed into law House Bill 4, which prohibits employment discrimination based on surviving sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.  This law requires that employers in Delaware provide reasonable accommodations to an employee to address their victimization.  The employee may be required by the employer to show a court order, a police record, or a statement from a health care provider or advocate certifying that they are a victim of one of these crimes.  This law provides important employment protections for victims of domestic violence.

Assistance to Recipients of Government Benefits

DCADV provides technical assistance to state welfare staff to help ensure that victims eligible for benefits receive appropriate assistance and resources.  Delaware's Division of Social Services' assistance programs recognize how the impact of domestic violence may create barriers to success and offer specialized services intended to support survivors' needs and privacy.

Mental Health, Trauma & Disabilities

Individuals with disabilities and mental illness have unique risks of being victimized by intimate partners and others, as well as unique barriers to accessing services.  DCADV has been working collaboratively with national and local experts and local service providers to improve the services and resources available to victims of domestic violence with disabilities and/or mental illness, using a trauma-informed approach.