Inter-Agency Response Participants

Last updated May 2019

Early multi-sectoral approaches focused on coordinating the responses of criminal justice and law enforcement agencies and service providers and on challenging the institutions and practices that prevented women from receiving the full protection of the laws.[1] Later efforts, however, also focused on coordinating the work of other actors. While there is no set composition of membership that every community must include when selecting participants, all programs should include input from victims and survivors. In addition, communities should consider:

  • Advocacy organizations
  • Educators
  • Employers and unions
  • Faith groups and traditional leaders
  • Government departments
  • Health care providers
  • Law enforcement
  • Legal system
  • Men’s groups
  • Parents’ groups
  • Social service providers
  • Youth groups
  • Judicial Officers
  • Prosecutors
  • Probation officials

Some projects have relied on community education as a way of reshaping attitudes and involving the community as a whole in the response to domestic violence, a process that is made easier by ensuring that there is a solid foundation across sectors. All participants in the coordinated community response must share the same core principles or values that centralize victim safety and batterer accountability.

Different communities will need to involve different participants, and who should be involved will depend on a variety of contextual factors. Before starting an inter-agency response program, advocates will need to familiarize themselves with the actors who might be involved in an intervention effort and the roles these actors play. In order to keep discussions general and focused on policies that had the potential to protect victims, staff at the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project—an early domestic violence advocacy and criminal justice reform organization—asked these actors:

  1. What would improve the system's response?
  2. What kind of resistance would there be to different proposals (i.e., mandatory arrest)?
  3. Why would that resistance be there?
  4. Who are the key leaders [to convince of the value of a new approach]?
  5. How could proposed changes backfire on the project and on battered women?
  6. What kind of training in proposed changes would be effective?[2]

In a multi-sectoral approach, strong leadership is crucial to ensuring that all voices are heard and that all sectors continue to smoothly work together in order to best support survivors and their families. Leadership for coordinated responses can be located in an independent advocacy organization, the criminal justice system, or an inter-agency local coordinating council. Linda McGuire recommends locating leadership of the coordinated response in a group not directly involved in the criminal justice system. This approach can help ensure that internal hierarchies and structures within the criminal justice system do not hinder the implementation of needed reforms, and that the response remains focused on the victim's safety.[3] Under the Blueprint for Safety, the leader—called the coordinator—manages the adaptation and implementation of the Blueprint model, providing the “glue and guidance that helps the partner agencies and work groups assess current practice, adapt the Blueprint to local conditions, implement and monitor the resulting changes.”[4] Under the Blueprint Model, the coordinator is usually a full-time position. Other programs have suggested a leadership structure in which a rotation of point people or steering committees.[5]

Regardless of a multi-sectoral approach’s particular leadership structure, an effective multi-sectoral leader must be able to understand the ultimate goals and strategies of the team while facilitating further group advancement.

[1] Ellen L. Pence & Melanie F. Shepard, Introduction, in Coordinating Community Responses to Domestic Violence: Lessons from the Duluth Model 3, 9 (Melanie F. Shepard & Ellen L. Pence eds., 1999). 

[2] Id. at 25, 35, 36.

[3] Linda A. McGuire, Criminal Prosecution of Domestic Violence.

[4] BP Guide Phase 1: Explore and Prepare, Praxis International (last accessed Oct. 11, 2018),

[5] Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Wisconsin Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence CCR Toolkit: Establishing a Coordinated Community Response (CCR) Team 23 (2016).