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Health care providers and advocates: together we’re stronger

Blog post

On September 30, 2011, Lisa Fujie Parks, the Partnership’s Prevention Program Manager, had the opportunity to speak at the Kaiser Permanente’s Family Violence Prevention Program’s 10th anniversary Family Violence Prevention Conference on a panel on community advocacy response to domestic violence. She was honored to share the panel with long-time advocate and mentor Beckie Masaki with the API Institute on DV, and long-time advocate Gloria Sandoval with STAND for Families Free of Violence. This was her first opportunity to publicly share the Partnership’s new logo and tag line.

Below is an excerpt of Lisa’s remarks, which highlight the Partnership’s public policy advocacy to address the complex state context that families, communities, advocates and legislators navigate in our quest to prevent and end domestic violence. The remarks also highlight the importance of partnerships between health care providers and advocates – because together, we’re stronger. 

Being here, in the Bay Area with all of you, I can certainly appreciate our lovely state of California, and how interesting and exciting it is to be a Californian. With California beingthe most populous US state, and an incredibly diverse majority minority state, with the 8th largest economy in the world, our state is no doubt, one of the world’s most important and diverse centers of culture, media and business. And at the same time, as you know, our state government faces tremendous budget challenges, has drastically cut our safety net, higher education and court systems, and has a public education system that ranks 49th out of 51 in areas such as teaching staff expenditure per pupil and overall teacher-pupil ratio.
Why do I bring up these points? I want to ask us to think about our state context for the next few minutes. The fact is, as Californians, everyday, we navigate tremendous complexity and uncertainty. And of course when it comes to domestic violence this is certainly true. And that’s where, our agency, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, plays a role.

Dr. Brigid McCaw, Medical Director, KPNC Family Violence Prevention Program, introduces the community advocacy panel

I want to give my deep and whole-hearted gratitude to my colleagues here, Beckie and Gloria, who are long time leaders and contributors to both local and state advocacy and to our coalition.

The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence is a membership based coalition. We promote a collective voice on public policy and systems change issues. We believe that by joining together and sharing expertise, families, communities, advocates and legislators can find and put into place the solutions to end domestic violence. And that’s why, everyday, we work to inspire, inform and connect all of those throughout the state who are concerned with domestic violence, because we all know that together, we’re stronger. Our primary functions are: public policy advocacy, public affairs and strategic communications, and strengthening member capacity.

Of our 200 member organizations and individuals, roughly half are domestic violence service providers that offer shelter services and other services. The other 100 members include non-shelter-based service providers, researchers, educators, multidisciplinary partnerships, government entities, and a range of other stakeholders. We have a small number of members from the healthcare field, and respond to technical assistance requests from health care providers on a number of issues. Our new membership structure encourages a greater range of allied organizations and individuals to become members.

In terms of public policy and systems change efforts, given the complexity of issues involved with addressing and preventing domestic violence, it really is important to have a collective advocacy voice addressing the larger policy picture at the state level – that isgrounded by local practice. Much of our work is organized around members in 7 regions across the State, and our advocacy platforms and positions are informed and led by the voices that come from those 7 regions.

During each legislative session, we sponsor bills and resolutions, we support and oppose bills, and we advocate for amendments to bills. This past session, we were actively involved in over 30 bills related to funding, teen dating violence education, immigration, and civil and criminal justice. One aspect of advocacy work is our annual legislative action day, when every year, our members travel to Sacramento to educate and advocate.
Of course, one of our most important areas of advocacy centers on the state budget. Some of you may know that in 2009, then Governor Schwarzenegger eliminated all domestic violence services funding from the state budget. Through our swift and strong collective advocacy, we restored that funding. Since then we have secured full funding of domestic violence services in the state budget, including the coming year’s budget, which, in this harsh economic climate, is a significant success.

This funding – while in actuality rather small when looking at the state’s total budget – is critical to maintaining financial viability of our local advocacy network. And these local advocacy organizations are really the foundation in our communities from which additional initiatives, including healthcare interventions, can really spring forward. Safeguarding this funding is really crucial to the health and viability of all of our efforts in California, and remains a priority. 

In addition to advocating on adult domestic violence, we have taken an increasing leadership role in promoting healthy relationships and preventing dating violence among adolescents. And we’ve involved youth leaders in our policy development and advocacy. This year, we, in fact, sponsored legislation in this area, and conducted quite a bit of legislator education, with the goal to amend the California Education Code to authorize middle schools and high schools to engage in curricular, extra-curricular, parent engagement and school climate improvement activities to promote healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence.

Unfortunately the bill was not successful, and we have not joined the ranks of the over a dozen states that have passed TDV legislation. However we have educated legislators, and continued to elevate the public’s understanding of the importance of these issues, not only for reducing adolescent and subsequent adult domestic violence, but also for addressing a range of adolescent health issues that are shaped by adolescent relationship behaviors, including teen pregnancy, HIV, STIs and other health and mental health issues.

Health and public health perspectives have been prominent in our dating violence advocacy. In addition to individual providers who gave expert testimony, over a dozen health groups were active in supporting our teen dating violence legislation, including California Medical Association, California Nurses Association, California School Health Centers Association, as well as local medical centers.

We are also currently leading a CDC funded initiative called the DELTA Project, to advance primary prevention in California. We partner with four local projects, each of which is having a positive impact in addressing the underlying contributors to domestic violence to reduce the overall incidence in their respective communities. Our role is to support these communities through technical assistance, to co-learn with them, and then to share our learnings with a broader audience to promote best practices and support and encourage other communities.

That’s just a small snapshot of a few pieces of our work, which are all based on partnerships – as our name indicates – and our firm conviction that together, we’re stronger – and together we can and will end domestic violence. All of you at Kaiser play such a valuable role in your communities and I encourage the deepening of those partnerships, as well as, engagement in working together at the state-level. I encourage you to contact me for further information: