Authorized by the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 and funded by the Office on Women’s Health with support from the Administration for Children and Families, Project Connect: A Coordinated Public Health Initiative to Prevent Violence against Women is a national initiative to change how adolescent health, reproductive health, and home visiting programs respond to sexual and domestic violence. Research demonstrates that women in these programs are at high risk for abuse, and that there are evidence-based interventions that can improve maternal and child health, and decrease the risks for unplanned pregnancy, poor pregnancy outcomes and further abuse. One of the only programs offering a national coordinated public health model to improve the health response to domestic and sexual violence, Project Connect’s multi-pronged approach includes creating and disseminating:
- Enhanced clinical interventions to respond to domestic and sexual violence, including training and supporting materials for providers and health systems;
- Patient education materials on the connection between abuse and their health;
- Policy and systems change at the local, state and national level;
- National training of providers through an eLearning platform;
- Pilot programs to offer basic health services within domestic and sexual violence programs; and
- Evaluation and research on the health impact of abuse and the impact of health-based interventions.
Project Connect is currently funding nine geographically and ethnically diverse communities across the nation: Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, and one Native American community in California, Kima:w Medical Center. These sites provide much-needed services for women in abusive relationships including historically medically underserved communities that have high rates of domestic and sexual violence, such as rural/frontier areas, immigrant women, and Native Americans.
As the national coordinator for Project Connect, Futures Without Violence provides technical assistance, tools and resources, training, and coordination for all sites. UC Davis School of Medicine is implementing an evaluation plan to measure the effectiveness of both the clinical intervention and policy change efforts.
In just over two years, Project Connect has had a significant impact:
- With over 5,000 providers from 50 clinical sites receiving training, programs serving over 200,000 women will integrate assessment for abuse into routine care and offer help when needed, using an evidence-based and setting-specific clinical intervention.
- Using input from health providers, domestic and sexual violence advocates, community members and policymakers, new education materials for providers and patients/clients have been developed by Futures Without Violence, including:
- New clinical guidelines for reproductive health providers
- New training curriculum for home visitation programs
- New guidelines for adolescent health providers
- New safety cards for adolescents talking about healthy relationships
For more information about Project Connect, contact:
Virginia Duplessis, MSW