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As part of a cooperative agreement with the Virginia Institute for Social Services Training Activities (VISSTA), the Old Dominion University Center for Family Violence Education and Research recently organized a conference focusing on the co-occurrence of child abuse and domestic violence. The conference was presented at three locations in Virginia -- Williamsburg (June 20), Fredericksburg (June 21) and Roanoke (June 23).

In all, more than 250 social service professionals attended at the three localities. "The opportunity to meet these workers and share with them, as well as learn from them, was invaluable," said Brian Payne, director of the Center for Family Violence Education and Research and chair of the Sociology and Criminal Justice department in which the center is located. Along with his colleague Dianne Carmody, associate professor of criminal justice, Payne presented a workshop titled "Risk Factors and Consequences of Co-Occurring Child Abuse and Domestic Violence."

Other Old Dominion University faculty members also participated in the event. Jonathan Appel, assistant professor (Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling), and DoHee Kim-Appel, adjunct professor (Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling), organized a workshop on the human services and counseling perspectives related to the co-occurrence of child abuse and domestic violence. Lt. Ray Greenwood and Gina Respass, both adjunct professors of criminal justice, presented a workshop focusing on the law enforcement response to domestic violence cases in which child abuse also occurred.

Greenwood is the director of training operations for the Virginia Beach Police Department. For several years he has been involved in improving the training that police officers receive about domestic violence.

"A significant number of domestic violence cases involve co-occurring child abuse. This means that several different human services systems will get involved. The involvement of several fragmented systems creates a situation where barriers to service delivery are sure to arise," said Appel.

The social service professionals participating in the conference came from a number of different social services programs including child protective services, welfare, foster care, adult protective services, and adoption.

"The efforts of the Center for Family Violence Education and Research are becoming significant for all Virginians. Through designing and presenting this conference in three different locations, residents across the Commonwealth will benefit from improved service delivery," said Chandra de Silva, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Old Dominion University.

Gerri King, founder of Human Dynamics and a nationally recognized keynote speaker, provided a keynote speech focusing on stress and burnout in the social services profession.

Housed in the Social Work department at Virginia Commonwealth University, VISSTA provides training for the Virginia Department of Social Services. In addition to this conference, the Center for Family Violence Education and Research also recently completed a needs assessment examining the domestic violence training needs in the Commonwealth for VISSTA.

Based on the results of this assessment, the Center will develop and/or revise three domestic violence courses offered by VISSTA. Also, the Center will organize another conference next year.

"Our relationship with VISSTA is just beginning. They provide an essential and worthwhile service and it is an honor to be a part of that service delivery," said Payne.

This article was posted on: June 27, 2005

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