- NOVA Rapport 19/14
- Oslo Metropolitan University - OsloMet: NOVA
- This report analyzes trends in the development of shelter services after the implementation of the The Shelter Act, dated 19 June 2009. The Act was implemented on 1 January 2010. NOVA prepared this report as a commission for the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs. The objective has been to assess whether shelter services have developed according to the requirements of the Act, since it came into effect. The task has also been to assess whether the law has had the intended effect, and if it is necessary to alter the law or use other measures to reach the authorities’ objective of providing good and comprehensive assistance to victims of violence. The report’s conclusion and recommendations are based on analyses of a range of both qualitative and quantitative date. The purpose of the The Act was to continue and strengthen the provision of shelter services to the population. The authorities wanted to ensure nationwide provision of good quality shelter services for all victims of violence. The Act makes it obligatory for all municipalities in Norway to provide shelter services to their inhabitants. The financial scheme changed simultaneously, so that the shelters’ finances would become more predictable. This implies that the state appropriations to shelter services have been included in the municipal budgets; the local authorities are thus responsible for 100 per cent of the operating expenses for shelter services in the country.The Act imposed legal requirements regarding content and the quality of the services. The law also defined two new user groups, men and children, and stated that the services offered were to be customized to the individuals’ needs. The evaluation has shown that most municipalities now contribute to financing the provision of shelter services for both men and women, as the law requires. The shelters are still the main providers of shelter services in the municipalities’. Shelters most often run the shelter services for men. The main picture is that the municipalities seek to fulfill the requirements in the Act, by acquiring or connecting with existing shelters. The main question in this report is if the municipalities’ shelter services are on the right track towards fulfilling the Act’s requirements for good and comprehensive services to the target groups defined by the law. One of the evaluations main conclusions is that this usually is the case for services provided by the shelters while the victims of violence are in the shelters. Interviews with victims of violence at the shelters also show that they in general are very satisfied with the help they receive during their stay. Especially, they experience feeling safe, seen and understood. However, the evaluation indicates that not all of the objectives, with transferring the responsibility for the shelter services to the municipalities, were achieved. The municipalities’ assistance to victims of violence with additional problems like addictions, mental problems and / or disabilities, do not comply with the law’s requirements. These groups do not receive much assistance from shelter services. Our study shows that the municipalities neither have knowledge about the available shelter services to these groups, nor have developed services to assist these groups. The evaluation has also shown that the municipalities have not reached the finish line in regards to coordinating a cohesive chain of assistance to victims of violence, and that the responsibilities in the rehabilitation phase are unclear. However, there are variations, and some municipalities seem to follow-up the shelters closely. Some municipalities seem to have strived to connect the shelter services closely to other existing services. However, a lot of work is still needed to make action plans against domestic violence and informing the population about what the shelter services can offer. One of the objectives of the law was to contribute to increased financial security and predictability for the shelters through the transition to framework financing. Overall, the municipalities spend more on the shelters than expected by the financial framework. The municipalities have allocated more money to the shelter each year since the implementation of the law. Forty percent of the shelters report an improvement in their financial situation since the introduction of the Act. Concurrently the majority of the shelters state that their financial situation is the same or has become worse during this period. The intent was that the law should contribute to better financial security and predictability, has therefore only partially been achieved. One of the purposes with the law has been to ensure that the shelters continue to be services with a low- threshold, all over the country. This implies, amongst other things: that victims of violence do not need a referral to seek assistance, that access to assistance should not be so far away from where people live that the distance itself becomes an obstacle for seeking help, and that the services should be available at all hours, and free. An implication of this is that anybody in need of shelter services are entitled to such aid, irrespectively of his or her affiliation or residency status in Norway. Subsequently, victims of violence with additional problems are also entitled to shelter services. The study has shown that the nationwide capacity has increased. On the national level, the services meet the standard of 1.5 family places per 10.000 female inhabitants. Even though, six shelters have closed during the latter years. Consequently, the individual victim in the areas where shelters closed, have to travel much further to reach the nearest shelter. Increased travel distance heightens the threshold for seeking assistance, and is not in accordance with the idea that shelter services are to be low- threshold services. On a national level, there are still areas with low coverage of shelter services, thus the Act’s objective of geographic equality has not been achieved. One intention of introducing the Act was to ensure that all municipalities assist all victims of violence in close relationships, also persons with serious drug problems or mental problems. Our study suggests that the professionals in different public services also are unsure about where these users belong in the system. We have shown that the shelter services apply different strategies and have different routines regarding how to handle users with additional problems. While some shelters accept “all people”, other shelters reject them and try to pass them on through the system. The evaluation also shows variations between the municipalities regarding how well their services are adapted to the needs of disabled victims of violence, including whether their facilities are accessible for wheelchair users and access to interpreters for the deaf. Also in such matters, the shelters must have access to the necessary resources and be instructed to make adjustments like some, but not all, shelters have. One intention with the Act was to ensure shelter services also for male victims of violence. Almost all municipalities state that they have shelter services for men. Our analyses though, have shown a lack of compliance with the law regarding the availability of housing for men. Referring men to hotel rooms is not in accordance with the safety or the staffing requirements of the Act. That men cannot get housing during weekends or in evenings is not in accordance with the requirement of accessibility at all hours either. Our study has shown that the requirement that men and women be kept separate, actually leads to breaches in other aspects of the Act’s requirements, such as quality; customization of services, security, securing premises, 24-hour accessibility and other aspects of equality in the services to men. We have also shown that physical separation of men and women, in some cases, not only discriminates between men and women. Their children are also discriminated, because the women’s children get a better offer with more activities than the men’s children. The law has safety requirements, but does not specify any physical standard. Despite this, our study shows an improvement in the standard of housing after the introduction of the Act. However, many centers still have inadequate premises, also concerning the provision of quality services for children. Overall, the shelters seem to fulfill the aim of being safe places. Although our analyses show, that shelters for men in general are less safe than shelters for women. Lack of security does not only affect men, but also any accompanying children. An important aim of the Act was to ensure safeguarding children. Our study suggests that the law has had a positive impact on children’s situation in shelters. The study also shows that the shelters’ contact with the Child Welfare Services has become more formalized since the Act was introduced, and that there has been an increase in the number of reports from the shelters to the Child Welfare Services. The situation for children accompanied by their fathers, however, represents an exception from this positive trend. The number of children arriving with their father is currently low, but it is important to be aware that it has increased since the introduction of the Act. Since the introduction of the Act, more shelters have provided a larger scope of comprehensive services, such as; organized consultations, making individual plans during stays and planning for the rehabilitation phase. However, there are still variations between services provided by the shelters; this applies more to the services to men than those to women. The law states that shelter services shall follow the users up comprehensively, by coordinating assistance between shelter services and other parts of the public service agencies. This implies that shelter services shall provide users with; support, guidance and assist in contacting other services during their stay at the shelter, and that the shelter services will contribute during the rehabilitation phase. The scope of formal cooperation between shelters and other services has increased, but there are still major challenges to achieving coordination between services and agencies. There is also great variation in this regard. The study also shows that formal cooperation between shelters and the Child Welfare Services has become more common, but many shelters still have not formalized such cooperation. It is difficult to measure the extent of informal cooperation, but interviews show that many employees and managers at the shelters do not get included in cooperation between services. Another important question is how far the shelters responsibilities go into the rehabilitation phase. The study indicates that there is a lot of uncertainty. Many shelters face challenges engaging other services and agencies with their users, especially when it comes to acquiring housing. Housing is critical both in terms of avoiding that the victim moves back to the abuser, and with respect to reducing the burden of extended stays in shelters for both residents, who often have children, and the shelters. One purpose with the Act has been to secure high quality shelter services, including by having qualified employees with the necessary skills to meet the needs of the victims of violence. Our assessment is that this goal is being, or is about to be fulfilled. The proportion of employees with a college or university degree is high, and we see that especially the larger shelters have specialized positions, e.g. a majority of them now have professionals responsible for children. Recommendations Our overall assessment is that the Act has contributed to a strengthening of the municipalities’ assistance to female, male and child victims of violence. The implementation of the Act is still in an early stage, and we assume that there will be changes in areas, where the services are not fully developed. Although, there are still reasons to suggest measures â€“ both alterations to the Act and other types of measures that can support the municipalities’ efforts to offer qualitative and encompassing assistance. We recommend national authorities to: Consider a general regulation that will permit more specified regulation of the content of the services, e.g. by using minimum standards. Consider an assistance scheme, so that lags in physical standards and security quickly can be rectified. Such a scheme can also be used to establish services for males in suitable premises. Consider whether the geographical placement of shelters is in accordance with the principle that shelters are low-threshold services, and consider reopening or establishing shelters in regions with low coverage. One should also explore alternative financing options. Review new solutions for assisting men. Review different shelter models, for victims of violence who also have additional problems Follow-up previous recommendations for improving services to victims of violence with disabilities. cf. Gundersen et al. (2014) Initiate research that allows for studies of the development of shelters over time, and provide possibilities for theory-based and theory-generating research.
- Denne rapporten analyserer utviklingstrekk i kommunenes krisesentertilbud etter innføringen av Krisesenterloven 1. januar 2010. Loven innebærer at kommunene har fått ansvar for å sørge for et helhetlig krisesentertilbud til kvinner, menn og barn. Ansvaret er omfattende, og rapporten undersøker hvordan kommunene har forvaltet oppgavene i denne tidlige fasen av implementeringsprosessen. En hovedkonklusjon er at kommunenes arbeid med krisesentertilbudet er på riktig vei, men at det på noen viktige områder er et stykke igjen før man kan si at lovens krav er nådd.