Where to start
The first place to start is within.
Assessing to what degree your agency is willing and ready to engage in IPV prevention efforts is a necessary first step in building internal commitment and capacity. The questions offered below can help frame critical dialogues within domestic violence programs and coalitions and help lay a strong foundation for effective prevention work.
- An agency’s aspirations and strategies will convey a lot about the willingness and ability to engage in mission-driven efforts to prevent violence. Is prevention embedded within the agency mission statement? Is prevention mentioned in strategic plans?
- Are there agency-wide opportunities to learn about prevention? Cross-sectional capacity building is not only crucial to building commitment for prevention but it is also crucial to supporting agency-wide health.
- Do human resource and program managers understand the knowledge and skill sets necessary for prevention positions and accurately reflect this in recruitment?
- Is the agency willing to make room for a different kind of work that may require different supervision habits and staff development strategies?
- Does the agency culture support social change work or does it view itself primarily as a service delivery organization? If prevention work is devalued within the agency, building and sustaining prevention efforts will be difficult.
Now consider the readiness and willingness of your partners and community.
Building prevention capacity from within is essential, but having an understanding of the prevention landscape and opportunities for engagement is also important.
- Who within your community is already engaging in prevention and how? Are there other victim services agencies in the area that are invested in prevention? To what degree do your agency mission and efforts overlap?
- What other services and social change agencies exist within the community? What work are these agencies doing and who are they serving? Having an understanding of who your potential allies are will help you design and sustain relevant prevention efforts.
- Ask those around you. Many service delivery agencies have long-standing partnerships within the community. Assess to what degree your partners and other potential allies are receptive to and in need of prevention. In order for your efforts to be successful, they need to resonate with and be impactful for the community you work with. A community assessment will help you determine the who, where, and how.
- Consider what is realistic and tangible for your agency. Eliminating racism in public schools might not be attainable, but building empathy and increasing social cohesion among youth in schools just might be.
- Consider what role your agency can and will play. To what degree are the agency’s prevention efforts able to be initiated, coordinated, and facilitated by the community itself? What ongoing structures are needed to ensure your level of involvement and support is possible?
This list is intended to serve as a launching point, a tool to facilitate initial dialogue around engaging in prevention. By no means is it exhaustive. If you seek further guidance around where to start, there is an extensive library of tools and resources housed by VAWnet.org and within the PreventIPV Tools Inventory.