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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Announces Federal Grants Aimed at Combating Domestic Violence

For immediate release:
  • Marylou Sudders, Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary

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Elissa Snook

Boston — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced over $1 million in federal grants to strengthen the support for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and families involved with child welfare who have experienced domestic violence.

“For decades, Massachusetts has led the nation in efforts to reduce domestic violence and provide appropriate services for survivors,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito, chair of the Governor's Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. “Our administration is focused on ending domestic violence in our communities and will continue to identify prevention strategies to enhance support for all individuals and families, especially the most vulnerable, across the Commonwealth.”

Nearly one in three women and one in five men in Massachusetts has experienced physical violence, rape, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during her/his lifetime, according to the National Center for Disease Control. In 2015, more than six percent of the state’s high school students reported being a victim of physical dating violence in the past year.

“Across the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, we are focused on addressing domestic violence as a public health issue, with the understanding that domestic violence is a serious underlying cause of poor health for many,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders who serves on the Governor's Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. “These grants underscore the need to, first and foremost, prevent such violence and to support individuals recover from trauma.”

The grants target two populations at high-risk of experience domestic violence including:

  • A $1 million federal Victims of Crime Act grant from the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) to support the the Massachusetts Commission of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sensitivity, Training, Empowerment and Peer Support (STEP) program which serves Deaf and hard of hearing community members who are survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and homicide.

In Massachusetts, approximately 546,000 individuals are deaf or hard of hearing. Individuals who are deaf are 1.5 times more likely to be victims of relationship violence such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, emotional abuse and physical abuse. The funds will increase support for survivors through crisis intervention, counseling, peer support, and linking individuals with community supports through the use of patient navigators and assistive technology.

  • Selection of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) as one of two child welfare agencies nationwide to participate in a national demonstration research project aimed at improving the safety and well-being of families in the child welfare system experiencing domestic violence. The US Health and Human Services’ Quality Improvement Center on Domestic Violence in Child Welfare (QIC-DVCW) project will award up to $150,000 to DCF for their participation in the project which will be operational from 2017 – 2021.

With training and technical assistance, DCF will test an innovative adult and child survivor-centered approach which consists of strengthening cross-system collaboration and enhancing the quality of responses of community-based organizations, including dependency courts and domestic violence offender intervention programs, to better meet the needs of child welfare-involved families; using an evidence-informed domestic violence risk and protective factors framework to enhance understanding of the experiences and needs of adult and child survivors of domestic violence, and to promote effective and collaborative planning; and using a domestic violence offender accountability and positive change framework to help child welfare and collaborative partners work safely and effectively with individuals who have used violence and coercion with their partner and who have directly harmed or impacted the well-being of children within the family as a result.

In April 2015, Governor Baker signed Executive Order 563, re-launching the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Over its first year, the Council’s priorities included analyzing and reporting on the implementation of Chapter 260: An Act Relative to Domestic Violence. The Council has since launched work groups in five priority areas, including child trafficking and prevention education in schools and universities.



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Executive Office of Health and Human Services 

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is the largest secretariat in state government and is comprised of 12 state agencies, in addition to the 2 soldiers’ homes and the MassHealth insurance program. Our efforts are focused on the health, resilience, and independence of those we serve. Some of our public health programs touch every community in the Commonwealth.


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