In 1993, Delaware was the only state in the country that did not offer victims of domestic violence the ability to petition the court for a protection from abuse order. Although advocates had long been assisting victims through domestic violence shelter programs and services, significant gaps existed in Delaware’s response to domestic violence.
In March 1993, Delaware sent a team of representatives to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Conference in San Francisco, which focused on confronting family violence. During that conference the concept of Delaware’s Domestic Violence Coordinating Council was developed. After returning from the conference, the team along with members of the Domestic Violence Task Force developed a report for the Delaware General Assembly, recommending, among other things, the creation of a statewide coordinating council.
In response to those recommendations, four pieces of legislation were passed in 1993 (Title 13 Section 2101), including Delaware’s Protection From Abuse Statute and the statute establishing the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. The first meeting of the State of Delaware – Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVCC) was held on September 15, 1993. In attendance at that meeting were the DVCC founding members; Honorable Vincent J. Poppiti, Honorable Liane Sorenson, Honorable Charles M. Oberly, Honorable Lawrence M. Sullivan, Honorable Karen Johnson, Thomas P. Gordon, Mary Davis, Dr. Anne Aldridge, Dr. Rhoslyn Bishoff, Cynthia Boehmer and Patti Blevins.
The founding members included representatives from the advocacy community, law enforcement, the state attorney general, the courts, cabinet members, state legislators, the state public defenders office, and the medical community. At our first meeting we reviewed agency purpose, formulated eight subcommittees, discussed By-laws and the members agreed that to be effective, we would need to reach out to agencies involved in the system response and invite them to join us at the table.
The Council shall:
(1) Continuously study court services and procedures, law-enforcement procedures and protocol, and criminal justice data collection and analysis as it relates to domestic violence;
(2) Effectuate coordination between agencies, departments and the courts with victims of domestic violence and abuse;
(3) Promote effective prevention, intervention and treatment techniques which will be developed based upon research and data collection;
(4) Recommend standards for treatment programs for perpetrators of domestic violence to the Department of Health and Social Services, Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families and the Department of Correction;
(5) Review and comment upon legislation relating to domestic violence introduced in the General Assembly at the request of any member of the General Assembly or on its own initiative; and
(6) Improve the response to domestic violence and abuse so as to reduce the incidents thereof.
Much of the DVCC’s work is accomplished through Committees comprised of Council members, staff, advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, service providers, and community members.
The diverse membership of DVCC Committees allows for greater input on domestic violence issues. The focus of the Committees is: to collaboratively, uniformly and continuously review the system response to domestic violence; to identify and prioritize system issues; and to develop plans and goals to address system issues. This process leads to improvements to the system through policy development and when needed, legislative change.
Related Topics: advocates, community members, coordination, council members, Delaware, domestic violence, Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, DVCC, law enforcement, prosecutors, Protection From Abuse, service providers, staff, State of Delaware