This course is designed for anyone working (paid or volunteer) in a domestic violence shelter program. Feeling frustrated with all the shelter rules but can’t see another way? Puzzled about just what the baseline regulations for domestic violence shelters are in our state? Curious about where the idea of domestic violence shelters or “the battered women’s movement” came from? Then this course is for you! You are welcome to take it individually or as a group with other folks at your program.
This course will provide those new to the field some basic grounding in key topics, including state regulation of shelters, history of the anti-violence movement, and shelter management challenges. For seasoned advocates or shelter managers, this course will provide a refresher and perhaps some new ideas. For additional information and resources, please check out our Shelter Support guide.
Completing this course constitutes 8 self-study hours.
Part I: State regulations, history, & challenges
This lesson provides an overview of state regulations that apply to shelters, a brief history of the anti-violence movement, and a reflection on some of the challenges of managing a shelter.
- Learn about the state regulations for domestic violence shelters.
- Read about the history of the anti-violence movement and its relationship to shelters.
- Explore a variety of challenges that come with managing a shelter.
- Additional resources:
- History of the Domestic Violence Movement training course
- The Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse (MINCAVA) – a website with many resources on violence against women
- Women and Male Violence: The Visions and Struggles of the Battered Women’s Movement, Susan Schechter (1982)
- Parenting in Public: Family Shelter and Public Assistance, Donna Haig Friedman (2000)
Part II: Rules, rights, & responsibilities
This lesson focuses on the value of re-thinking shelter rules, rights, and responsibilities.
- Hear what shelter workers have to say about rules, chores, and change in Voices of Shelter Workers.
- Choose one article to read from the following:
- Journal exercise: This is intended to help you connect the reading with your experiences as an advocate. Please spend at least 15 minutes writing responses to the questions below. There are no right or wrong answers.
- What reading did you choose?
- What views and ideas did you relate to, based on your work at shelter or your personal experiences?
- What views and ideas were the most challenging or exciting for you? Why?
- Do the ideas presented in the article seem realistic for your shelter program, or have you tried them before? Please explain.
- For additional information, check out Running a Shelter with Minimal Rules.
Part III: Physical fixes & parenting in shelter
In this experiential section, you will explore the value of making physical fixes to your program and/or re-thinking parenting in shelters. Choose one of the following options.
- Option A: Re-thinking rules at shelter
- Read Physical Fixes to Help Programs Minimize Rules.
- Go on a shelter tour to see which (if any) of these ideas your agency already has in place, and what (if any) you might want to try.
- Identify two ideas for physical fixes that would help minimize rules and seem possible for your program. Talk this over with a co-worker and ask for feedback. You can make this a group activity, especially if you and a co-worker are taking this course together.
- Spend at least 15 minutes writing about what you did and what you found out. What was your idea and how hard was it to identify? How might you share your learning with the rest of the shelter staff? There are no right or wrong answers.
- Option B: Re-thinking how we support parenting in shelter
- To complete this option you will need the book Parenting in Public: Family Shelter and Public Assistance by Donna Haig Friedman. The Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS) sent a free copy of this book to every shelter contractor in 2006.
- Read Chapter Two, “Family Shelter Environments” and “Reflections,” (pages 41-83). The author gives examples of shelters where the facility, rules, and staff/resident interactions undermine parent-child relationships among residents. She also gives examples of shelters that create an especially supportive environment for parenting.
- Identify at least one example of how your shelter practices support parenting by residents. For instance, think about physical lay-out, bedroom arrangements, rules about chores and cleaning, how children receive medications, kitchen and meal policies, staff interactions with children, how resident privacy is handled, or how family boundaries and belongings are handled.
- Then, identify at least one example of a practice that could use improvement. You can make this a group activity, especially if you and a co-worker are taking this course together.
- Spend at least 15 minutes writing about your examples and your reactions to the reading. How might you share your learning with the rest of the shelter staff? There are no right or wrong answers.
- For additional information, explore Building Dignity: Design Strategies for Domestic Violence Shelter.