Coordinated Responses
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Social Services

Last edited: February 21, 2019

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Social services are another critical component of an effective coordinated community response.  These services may be offered in a variety of settings including community-based advocacy, governmental agencies, hospitals and shelter-based services. Once a victim/survivor has contact with the social services sector, she may be offered a variety of services and assistance.  Social services often assist with risk assessment and crisis intervention for victims/survivors, their children and other family members and dependents.  The services frequently include providing referrals for other assistance such as legal aid, housing or shelter and financial assistance, which may include employment and child care assistance. 

Social services may offer an assessment of current danger to the victim and her children.  They may provide assistance in developing and implementing a safety plan, obtaining a protection order, and involving of law enforcement and/or the legal system. Social services personnel may also discuss the victim/survivor’s physical and mental health needs, including substance abuse, injury and counseling or therapy needs. In addition to addressing these needs of victims/survivors, social service agencies may also provide similar services to family members who were ancillary victims of the violence.  Often these discussions will help determine a victim/survivor’s ability to transition out of a volatile situation and into a safer environment for the family.

Another way that social services can be involved in the coordination effort is by collaborating with other sectors on public education and prevention efforts, including providing training to first responders, the judiciary, prosecution and other agencies involved in responding to violence against women.

The ability to provide ongoing support for victims/survivors is also imperative for health care providers.  Once their immediate, acute needs have been addressed, they often need ongoing advocacy and support. The extent of this need can vary depending upon each individual situation or circumstance.  Social services may also keep victims/survivors apprised of the status of any legal action, support during court appearances, location of the perpetrator and any remaining long-term concerns a victim/survivor may encounter throughout the process.

See the Social Services Core Elements and Quality Guidelines for a detailed description of  a quality social services sector response to violence against women in line with good practices.

See the Shelter module for detailed guidance on working with this sector.  Additionally, see the Services for Victims section of Implementing laws in the Legislation module.