Out of 21 D.C. government agencies, 19 government agencies have received failing grades for lacking specific policy to effectively respond to domestic violence faced by public members or their employees, according to a report card released last month by D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
D.C. City Council also got failing grades in the report card for lacking a policy to address domestic violence. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, called Metro, also received failing grades for inadequate policy to tackle domestic violence. Metropolitan Police Department and the Child & Family Service Agency received a passing grade in the report card.
“Domestic violence impacts hundreds of thousands of District residents each year and the large number of such cases outpaces the availability of services for survivors offered by non-government organizations like the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its 16 component groups,” states the report titled “Surviving D.C.: A Domestic Violence Report.”
According to the report, the local government agencies must be prepared to respond to the needs of survivors of domestic abuse. “Residents who are desperately trying to navigate the perils of abusive relationships often turn to District government agencies for life-saving assistance such as housing, protection, medical care, and more,” the report adds.
Kevin Donahue, Deputy D.C. Mayor for Public Safety and Justice in a statement said that the mayor’s office is updating “a far-reaching ongoing domestic violence program.”
“Over the past four years Mayor Bowser has invested more than $43 million in domestic violence programs across the District – a historic investment,” said Donahue, adding that these programs have provided critical services to survivors of domestic violence, which includes emergency and transitional housing, legal advocacy, counseling and mental healthcare.
Donahue said his office has been directed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to make a citywide domestic violence policy which will be based on “established best practices” focusing on the needs of survivors.
Effective from January 1, 2019, the new policy will be applicable to all 35,000 D.C. government employees. “It is vital that we ensure the District government provides domestic violence survivors with all the support they need and we are committed to doing so,” said Donahue.