The Program “Centers for the Prevention and Treatment of Domestic Violence” (hereafter, Program) is one of the programs included in the National Program against Domestic Violence (hereafter, National Program), active in 165 municipalities countrywide. The duration of the intervention is about one year. In the Centers, expert social workers provide individual and/or group treatment for women, men, and children, both victims and offenders. The centers may be contacted independently, or with referral by the Social Services Department, the Adult Probation Service, the Israel Police, healthcare systems (health plans, hospitals, and family health centers) and other services. The Program’s goals are to (1) diagnose and assess the risk and formulate a protection program for victims; (2) provide preliminary counselling and emergency intervention; (3) extend emotional help and support on an individual, dyadic, family, or group basis; (4) provide community intervention in the areas of prevention and public information; and (5) provide counselling and supervision to professionals in the field
Myers-JDC-Brookdale’s Outcome Team was called upon to:
- Help the National Program management develop tools to enable (1) Ongoing follow-up on characteristics, needs, previous interventions and strengths of the Program clients; (2) Monitoring of the Program’s outputs and goal attainment; (3) Gathering of preliminary information about the Program clients. These will serve as a basis for creating a computerized system for planning the intervention, documenting the course of treatment, and measuring the outcomes of other long-term programs operating as part of the National Program. These instruments will also be used by headquarters staff to formulate policies and procedures.
- Conduct an evaluation pilot to assess the degree to which the tools developed serve their purpose, prior to their implementation for ongoing evaluation.
- Two instruments were developed:
- An online evaluation questionnaire for Center staff, including questions about client characteristics and needs, their strengths and previous interventions designed to treat the violence problem.
- An online self-report questionnaire for Center clients, examining the same elements from the clients’ perspective.
- An evaluation pilot was carried out in June 2021, including both offenders and victims served at the Center.
- The online staff questionnaire was administered in 165 Centers (staff from 106 Centers responded, regarding 524 clients).
- The online self-report questionnaire for Center clients was completed by 201 clients selected by Center employees.
- A focus group was conducted with ten staff members included in the pilot in order to assess the tool’s suitability for ongoing measurement, to learn more about how the tools were received by staff and clients, to identify barriers for completing them among clients, and more.
Pre-treatment (t0) assessment findings. The assessment mapped the Program clients’ characteristics and needs. Most were found to be Jewish women with children, under some level of threat. The main types of violence or abuse that led the clients, both offenders and victims, to contact the centers were verbal, emotional, or mental, as well as using children as levers of control. The clients also experienced additional difficulties liable to affect the level of family violence, including difficulties in relations within the family, economic distress, employment difficulties and problems with housing arrangements. About a third of clients had previously sought the help of various services for a domestic violence problem (including Social Services Departments, the Israel Police, and healthcare services).
Tool use assessment. The examination of the tools’ suitability for ongoing use as part of a computerized system for treatment planning, documentation, and outcome measurement, indicated mixed staff reactions. On the one hand, staff enumerated the advantages of using the instruments, including producing valuable information, being able to review the intervention results, and the ability to assess the client’s condition early into, in the course of and at the end of the treatment and make comparisons. On the other hand, the staff were concerned with the lack of available time to use the system on a daily basis due to their heavy workload and due to their reluctance to quantify the treatment process for each client.
- Continue developing the monitoring and outcome assessment tool to make it suitable for the daily fieldwork and for the headquarters knowledge and data collection needs.
- During the pilot, the questionnaire was not accessible to clients who were illiterate or had no access to online forms. Moving forward towards designing a computerized system for ongoing use, alternative ways should be found to gather information from these clients.
- Despite staff concern with the questionnaire’s length, they did not indicate any specific items they thought could be removed, and even suggested questions that should be added to it. Moreover, when analyzing the data, no regularity was found with regard to items not completed in the questionnaire, and therefore we cannot recommend the removal of any. At the same time, we need to consider elements the staff indicated as missing.
- Upon developing the computerized system for ongoing use, we recommend providing comprehensive training in its usage (feeding data, queries, and exporting reports) prior to implementing it. Together with this training, it is important also to “win hearts and minds” for using the system for documentation purposes by highlighting the advantages and benefits of its ongoing usage.