With Support from Our Donors, DAP Expands Case Management Services – Helps Clients Gain Self-Sufficiency

Posted by on Jun 7, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Case Management team

Katie (left) and Jodi (right) provide vital case management services to DAP clients – helping clients overcome the barriers they face towards self-sufficiency.

After fleeing her abuser she didn’t have a place to stay.

He needed help navigating the veteran’s benefit system.

She wanted to find a job, but wasn’t sure who would watch her kids while at work, especially with the cost of childcare.

The individuals who come to DAP to find healing from domestic violence aren’t just seeking immediate orders for protection, or long-term therapeutic care – they have a myriad of needs, unique to each individual. And leaving these needs unmet is a huge barrier for victim survivors to find healing.

Imagine trying to find affordable housing, a new job, transportation to get there, and daycare for your children, all while battling the depression, sleeplessness, and trauma many of the victim survivors at DAP experience.

In 2016, in partnership with the University of Minnesota and our donors, we expanded case management by hiring a Women and Youth Case Manager. While our advocacy program meets the immediate, crisis needs of victims, and our therapy program supports clients’ long-term process of changing abusive behavior or healing from abuse, we were missing that middle piece for our women and youth programs – helping clients with housing, employment, childcare, medical needs, transportation, or food and clothing.

Katie Augustin joined our case management team in March to fill this gap in our services. Together, Jodi (Men’s Team Case Manager) and Katie (Women and Youth Case Manager) support all clients who come to DAP for care. Katie, whose background is in Psychology and Gender Studies, has worked in various shelters and residential care facilities for youth. She was interested in the new case manager position at DAP because she said she likes to “problem solve.”

When asked what is the biggest need they see in the clients they work with, Katie and Jodi unanimously said, “Housing, housing, and housing.” Of the victims they work with many are searching for affordable housing. Someone fleeing their abuser may have nowhere else to live, or have limited resources to rent a place. Affordable housing is already a problem for many in the Twin Cities housing market, but imagine leaving the primary breadwinner, or going from two incomes to one. Your options shrink. Most clients have to stay in shelters or lean on friends and family for housing while they wait two or more years to access public housing. Waiting lists are long.

In addition, domestic violence victims face added complexity in connecting to public resources such as housing vouchers, cash assistance, or food programs. Before leaving an abuser, victim survivors may have a decent family income or a support system that provides childcare, for example. But after fleeing an abuser victim survivors may not have access to these same resources. And the paperwork they have to submit for benefits (such as tax returns) may show that they do. Case managers advocate on behalf of their clients for an understanding of the unique situation of domestic violence victim survivors.

For this reason, sometimes Katie and Jodi’s work is an intricate maze of paperwork. Both Katie and Jodi were frank about the challenge of their jobs. They’ve placed countless calls to the county and state offices that provide public support to disadvantaged people, clarifying the rules or tracking down the correct paperwork. But this only serves to motivate their work. As Katie says, “If this is my full-time job and it can be a challenge, I don’t know how any domestic violence victim could do this alone, with all the other difficulties they face in their life right now.”

Indeed, there are victim survivors who come to DAP who are still in relationship with their abuser, and they tell Katie and Jodi they’re hesitant to leave because “where would they go?” “Who would help with the children?” “How would they find transportation to get to work?”

Domestic violence victim survivors have more on their plate than anyone should have to manage. But DAP’s case managers help take a few things off that plate. They alleviate a victim survivors’ worry about the needs she is facing, so she can truly focus on healing. They provide connections to the resources victim survivors need to finally leave their abuser. They provide a shoulder to lean on.

As Katie says, “It is a huge thing to sit with someone and just provide support – for victim survivors to have one person who can listen to these problems and help fix them.”

Thank you to the University of Minnesota and our donors for making this program expansion possible.

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