The Durham Integrated Domestic Violence Response System: Building Community Commitment in Durham

There is no doubt that community and neighborhood involvement plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of children. When families struggle, parents experience stress. And when parents do not know where to turn for support, stress can reach crisis levels.

Fortunately, making families aware of community resources that can relieve some of the biggest sources of stress, can make a difference. Durham has developed beneficial services, strategies, and advocacy to support Durham families. However, many families who want help don’t know where to turn and coordination among the offices making services available could be improved.

To tackle these and other challenges to the prevention of family violence, the Durham Integrated Domestic Violence Response System (DIDVRS) was formed. DIDVRS is a collaborative project that includes the Durham County Department of Social Services (DCDSS), the Durham Crisis Response Center (DCRC), the Durham Police Department (DPD), Durham County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the Center for Child and Family Health (CCFH), the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP), and the Exchange Family Center (EFC).

It All Starts with Awareness

Community involvement is key when it comes to recognizing when children’s needs are not being addressed and to preventing child slipping through the cracks. We all can continue to work toward protecting and uplifting children by coming together to talk about the organizations, resources, and programs Durham has to offer. The overarching goal is to expand the services available and establish a shared community philosophy and mutual agreement. By coming together and supporting one another, we can effectively develop our awareness of how all of us can help make children’s lives better.

Here is a list of local and national resources for parents and caregivers the Exchange Family Center has compiled. This list includes:

  • Resources for parents of kids with special needs

  • Steps to take to keep kids safe at home

  • Tips for boosting resilience in kids

  • Online positive parenting classes

Share it with your friends, family, and neighbors whenever appropriate.

In addition to educating yourself and those close to you about the available services, it’s important to be aware of how you can support the children in your life. Whether it be your own children, grandchildren, niece, nephew, a friend’s child, a student, a neighbor’s child, you may feel a sense of responsibility for children in your community. By forming a strong relationship or strengthening the current relationship you have with these children, you can have a positive impact.

Take a moment now and think about the role you play in a special child’s life. Think about how your interaction with this child shapes them. How do you talk to this child? How does he or she talk to you? What does she share with you? Does he tell you about his day at school? Does she share what her interests are? Really reflect on how important you may be to these children. Are you someone they feel they can trust?

It’s so important for adults to understand the role we play in a child’s life. When we engage with children, listen to them, ask them questions, and build rapport with them, we have positive impacts that can last a lifetime. You never know, you may be the only adult this child truly trusts. And you may be the only one able to provide him or her with the help he or she needs.

Research shows the support of a nurturing, responsive caregiver can buffer children from the risks that adverse events pose. By developing the protective factors in children’s lives, adults can shield them from the long term negative outcomes that come from traumatic childhood events. This important responsibility starts with the simple act of becoming more aware of the children you positively affect in your life.

Coordination and Collaboration for a Bright Future

The Exchange Family Center believes strongly that while community commitment starts with individuals, system-wide coordination throughout the county and beyond is essential to seeing improved outcomes. This is one reason we joined the Durham Integrated Domestic Violence Response System (DIDVRS).

The project is currently funded through a cooperative agreement grant from the Family Violence and Prevention Services through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The main goal of the project is to improve system collaboration among Durham community providers regarding their approaches, values, and assumptions when working across systems on behalf of abused parents and their children.

The project is expected to result in improved outcomes for abused parents and children or youth exposed to Domestic Violence (DV) by:

  1. Improving the system and responses to abused parents and their children exposed to DV across Durham;

  2. Coordinating and providing new  services for children and youth exposed to DV; and

  3. Enhancing evidence and practice-informed services, strategies, advocacy and interventions for children and youth exposed to DV.

DIDVRS includes a National Child Traumatic Stress Network affiliate (CCFH) that will deliver training in three key elements of technical assistance to partnering agencies:

  1. Building awareness of DV/family violence,

  2. Developing skills to screen for DV and its impact on children and make appropriate referrals, and

  3. Improving system collaboration between agencies to improve services delivered to families.

By participating in DIDVRS trainings, first responders will be empowered to make appropriate referrals to the trauma-informed network of care, and will also improve their engagement with non-offending caregivers who have been abused.

We are proud to partner with other social service agencies in Durham to nurture strong and thriving families. We are hopeful that all children and families will feel supported by the wider community.

As we head into April, National Child abuse Prevention Month, keep in mind the importance of individuals, families, and communities all working together to promote the social and emotional well-being of our children. We all can encourage each other to support children and parents, together!