Access to services by individuals in Alabama who are victims of domestic violence is being improved through a new project that proposes merging government programs with advocacy groups.
Project SAIL (Special Assessment Intervention and Liaison) is a program offered by the Alabama Coalition against Domestic Violence under contract with the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR).
“SAIL was designed to identify and intervene in family/domestic violence situations so that victims who are eligible for services through DHR would feel safe, remain in job training, obtain employment and become independent from welfare, whenever possible and applicable,” said Dr. Christine Nagy, UA associate professor of health studies and the program evaluator for SAIL.
“By implementing a more integrated, comprehensive model of service delivery, and increasing the availability and accessibility of treatment services, SAIL’s ultimate goal is to improve the outcomes for these individuals,” she said.
By placing a SAIL domestic violence specialist in DHR offices around the state, clients have immediate access to someone familiar with agencies and programs available to victims of domestic violence.
“They would like to see increases in the number of clients who feel safe, obtain and maintain employment for at least a year, and become independent of welfare.
“It becomes a one-stop procedure for everything from job placement to emotional support for these individuals,” Nagy said.
According to Nagy, Project SAIL is off to a good start in reaching its objectives. “Over the past year, of the 9,407 referrals, a total of 4,282 individuals received services from the project.”
Also, SAIL provides training sessions for DHR employees.
“The training was very well presented—much needed in this area for counselors and social workers. As a matter of fact, I think all state employees could use this training since so many would not be aware of all the resources available.”
In her evaluation, Nagy said she saw aspects of the program that were strong and some that needed improvement.
“The partnership among the agencies and the strengths they bring to the issue of domestic violence is certainly a positive. And the project’s process allows growth and change and input from other agencies,” she said.
“Most of all it’s bringing more awareness to the issue of domestic violence and the critical need felt by these individuals.
“However, being a statewide project, the challenge becomes making sure these services are delivered in a consistent manner,” she said.
“It will take time, but I believe SAIL could become a model for the U.S. in the area of domestic violence intervention.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.