This project is the result of a partnership effort between the Louisville Metro Office for Women and the University of Louisville Law School Women’s Law Caucus, in collaboration with the Center for Women and Families. The project was coordinated by Women’s Law Caucus (WLC) member Jane Tyler in conjunction with 2006 WLC President Cindy Haynes, and community contact Gabriela Alcalde, former Director of the Louisville Metro Office for Women. WLC members Tonya Appleby, Heather Hall, Cindy Haynes, Kate Holms, Rosa Johnson, Candace Kenyon, Robyn Lurding, and Elizabeth Powell conducted the interviews at the Louisville EPO Office and Intake Center. Gabriela Alcalde conducted the interviews at the Center for Women and Families. This report is based on the findings summary provided by Jane Tyler, interview transcripts, and personal observations of interviewers.
The impetus for this project was in part the 2005 System Snapshot Report produced by the Domestic Violence Prevention Coordinating Council (DVPCC) and its observations regarding the EPO process in Jefferson County. The purpose of the Domestic Violence Initiative is to provide observational and personal-account information to the general public, service providers, advocates, and policy-makers of the current status of a service which is integral to the community’s response to domestic violence. The approach chosen to assess the EPO Process was a series of student-conducted interviews with the staff of the EPO Office and the Intake Center as well as interviews at the Center for Women and Families with women who have previous personal experience with the EPO process.
The authors would like to thank all those who gave of their time to be interviewed, particularly the women who shared their personal stories and experiences with us.
The 2005 System Snapshot Report was released by the DVPCC in collaboration with the Mary Byron Foundation on October 2005 to highlight and document progress made in various areas of the domestic violence system in Louisville Metro and to call attention to areas needing further improvement. One of the six “next steps” laid out in the report is “Ensuring that the Domestic Violence Intake Center Operates as Initially Envisioned.” This project was undertaken to assist in this step. It was also brought to the attention of the Louisville Metro Office for Women that there was a lack of comprehensive and up-to-date information for the general public about what services are available at each location, on what days and time, and a widespread general confusion about the processes.
Among the highlighted areas of progress in the 2005 Snapshot report, the “[I]mplementation of Domestic Violence Intake Center to handle criminal complaints, process civil protective orders, and link victims to services at one location”, is listed as one of the key system enhancements. Another related system enhancement mentioned is that “[U]pon the request of victims, EPO Clerks may go to hospitals to provide assistance with filling out emergency petitions and have been helpful in seeking needed supplies for victims and their children.”
However, the report also notes the need for “[P]ermanent funding source for Domestic Violence Intake Center personnel and additional office space to enhance service provision at this center."
As stated in the Snapshot report, “[W]hen the Domestic Violence Intake Center was established with grant funding in the late 90’s, it marked the first local attempt to provide victims with a single point [emphasis added] of contact for accessing information, assistance and services. The Intake Center was envisioned to assist victims in a timely and sensitive manner while gathering adequate background information and context to ascertain inappropriate requests such as ‘spite warrants.’ Although the creation of the center marked a major step forward in the local system response to domestic violence crime, the effectiveness of the center has become limited over time by fragmentation in availability of services, lack of physical space, and the lack of a long-term source of funding to support its continued operation.” This project further explores the above-listed concerns through in-person interviews with persons working at the various locations that provide EPOs and/or criminal complaints and interviews with women who have used these services.