Increasing Staff Skills
A common element in many of the RHY and DV/SA collaborative partners were efforts to ensure that service providers working directly with runaway and homeless youth are well educated about relationship violence and about their agency’s approach to addressing it. These efforts typically involved cross-training to increase staff competencies to address issues of relationship violence and youth homelessness, improve referral outcomes, and identify and address policy and practice issues affecting services to this population.
For DV/SA staff, training approaches included providing information to advocates about runaway and homeless youth, the dynamics and complexities of relationship violence among street youth, intervention and prevention strategies, and other related information. For RHY programs, staff may not be familiar with dynamics of relationship abuse among the youth they work with, appropriate assessment strategies, safety planning strategies that might be effective, and community resources.
The Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership (HHYP) – whose members included the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Covenant House California, Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, Los Angeles Youth Network, My Friend’s Place and the Saban Free Clinic – and colleagues at Break the Cycle and Peace Over Violence, conducted a number of joint cross-training events for members of the collaborative and other community partners and developed an array of materials to support these efforts. Of particular note here is Addressing Intimate Partner Abuse in Runaway and Homeless Youth: A Practical Guide for Service Providers. A discussion of how the role of agency administrators, supervisors, and direct service staff can take steps to reduce the stress involved in working on such a challenging issue as relationship violence is included in Section 8 (p.18) of this Guide. HHYP also developed a number of other resources to support training efforts, including:
- The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in collaboration with the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services and the Florida Council Against Sexual Assault, developed Teen Relationship Abuse: Prevention and Intervention Strategies, as part of the Teen Relationship Abuse Among Runaway and Homeless Youth Curriculum. They also developed an Advocate’s Guide: Teen Dating Violence Among Runaway and Homeless Youth to assist the members of their collaborative develop a shared understanding of this issues facing vulnerable youth in their communities. Their training and community awareness strategy also included the development of Dealing with Teen Dating Violence Among Runaways.