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Becky Bowers
By Becky Bowers November 14, 2012

'Best practices' reports to combat domestic violence are specialized, not comprehensive

The Obama administration has launched a series of federal efforts aimed at combating violence against women.

But a comprehensive report on "best practices" across agencies, disseminated to states, isn't among them.

States are key because they're home to most criminal law related to domestic violence.

When we asked about this claim, the administration pointed us to narrower "best practices" documents, such as a Justice Department guide on civil protective orders released in October 2010.

Agencies also supported grant-funded projects that don't speak for the federal government.

For example, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence published a "Runaway & Homeless Youth and Relationship Violence Toolkit,"  funded by a Health and Human Services grant, while the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women produced, "Enhanced Services to Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence: Promising Practices & Lessons Learned," supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The president"s original campaign document noted that, "the eradication of this major public health problem will require a coordinated effort from at least three governmental departments: health, education and justice. … Sexual violence is a  complex multi-system problem.  No one agency can address all of the issues comprehensively.”

The solution, according to candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden, was to appoint a special adviser on issues related to violence against women who would coordinate efforts across federal agencies  — and "also issue a joint report on ‘best practices" across agencies and disseminate that information to the states.”

They did appoint a special adviser to the president. But the "best practices” effort remains specialized, such as a project from Health and Human Services on economic empowerment for domestic violence survivors.

The administration can point to a wide range of best-practices reports geared toward combating domestic violence. But that falls short of the original promise to provide a comprehensive, cross-agency guide to help coordinate a national response.

We rate this a Compromise.

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson December 23, 2009

Money for fighting domestic violence is up, but no signs of a report

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "issue a joint report on 'best practices' on reducing domestic violence and disseminate that information to the states."

While his administration has devoted new funds to combat violence against women, there is no sign that a best-practices report is under way.

The economic stimulus bill provided $225 million to support five grant programs run by the Office on Violence Against Women, the part of the Justice Department charged with implementing the Violence Against Women Act. These include funding for prevention programs and transitional housing, but we could not locate any provision authorizing a best-practices report.

Meanwhile, the administration requested $429.7 million in regular funding for the Office on Violence Against Women in fiscal year 2010, up slightly from $429.0 million in 2009. In the final appropriations bill signed by the president, the office actually received a decrease in funds -- $418 million -- though that was more than offset by the increase provided in the stimulus bill.

The most specific progress toward this promise may actually be a pair of bills -- one in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and one in the House by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.-- that would expand a "workplace clearinghouse" provision, which compiles best practices for employers on handling domestic violence. The provision would make it possible to include additional victim-services providers and state-based coalitions.

But neither bill has made it out of committee yet. So, while the Obama administration has, on balance, increased the amount of funding for domestic violence programs, there is no evidence that it has begun work on a best-practices report for states. So we rate this promise Stalled.

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