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SafeStart Evaluation Project


US Department of Justice


San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, & Families

Funding Duration

July 2002 - June 2009

Project Lead

John Shields


Children exposed to domestic violence are at increased risk for multiple negative outcomes. Exposure to domestic violence is correlated with a wide range of behavioral, social, psychological and school-related problems.

Systems of care for both adults and children are often not adequately structured to address the needs of children exposed to domestic violence. Responses to the needs of families experiencing domestic violence traditionally have been fragmented and uncoordinated.

The San Francisco Safe Start Initiative was at the forefront of the best practice movement toward coordinated family support model. Founded in research, this model places strong emphasis on creating coordinated networks of specialized neighborhood-based providers that can support to the whole family and help restore connections to natural support systems within their communities.

Over the seven-year project period, ETR provided evaluation and research services to the Initiative in collaboration with the US Department of Justice. ETR’s initial efforts to support the Initiative focused on the evaluation of systems change and program monitoring. As the Initiative expanded its service provision network and began serving hundreds of families in 2006, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) funded ETR to conduct an evaluation of the outcomes of Safe Start services. From 2002 to 2008, many improvements to SafeStart evaluation capacity were put in place, including an online referral, service data collection and outcome evaluation system.

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