Using technology to support effective service delivery and victims’ safety

Most victims’ service providers recognize the importance of data to

  • assess and coordinate responses to risk
  • support collaboration and effective operations
  • assess each client’s needs, health, progress, satisfaction, and outcomes
  • demonstrate the impact they are making to secure funding
  • identify and advocate for community-level needs

The effective use of a client information system to achieve the above objectives is not only worthwhile but necessary to increase victims’ safety, increase the capacity and impact of your organization, sustain funding, and decrease organizational risk. A client information system that can be configured for victims’ services programs but also a diverse range of other services you may provide can help your organization thrive. Does your system measure up?

Below are some of the benefits you can achieve with a well-designed case management system for victim’s services.

Foster collaboration and improve client experiences and outcomes

woman welcoming colleagueBeing able to see the whole picture surrounding a client’s journey allows for cross-team support and a greater understanding of the client’s needs, level of risk and well-being over time. Having information in a comprehensive system that also captures engagement and participation in service and tracks service outcomes can not only enhance client safety but also help providers assess how effective they are and adapt as needed.

Using a system that allows for some automation when responding to needs and risks ensures consistency in delivering high-quality service. For example, alerts based on risk scores or other assessment results, reminders for follow-up activities, and escalations and case reviews based on safety flags or other triggers can support staff efforts to ensure client safety and staff responsiveness.

Sharing assessment and satisfaction data with collaborators inside and outside of the organization as appropriate can ensure alignment and coordination of efforts as well as foster a shared understanding of how best to protect victims. For example, formally assessing client risk, sometimes in collaboration with law enforcement and other responders, can facilitate collaborative review and quick action that is appropriate to the risk level.

Being able to easily review and analyze data helps foster conversation and collaboration with stakeholders about what is working and what is not. Being able to easily share what is working can have benefits beyond the clients you serve. It can help other organizations and influence policy.

Save your provider’s valuable time

Using a client database designed for victims’ service providers increases the time staff will spend with clients compared with writing up paperwork, completing data entry from paper, or entering and referencing data from multiple isolated systems. A single system that allows information to be collected once wherever the advocate, counsellor, or other provider is delivering service and referenced in real time by authorized users when it is needed saves time, allowing providers to spend more time serving clients and creating a better client experience.

Store diverse program and service information in the same place

A client management system designed for victims’ services allows for data capture on the full range of services you provide, from crisis calls to advocacy and counselling services, shelter services, group programs (ex. court mandated groups), specialized services for children, to collaboration activities with third party providers including medical, legal, housing, and other supports. The more that can be tracked in a single system, the easier it is to report on data and have a single source of truth for client records.

Capture and store the wealth of knowledge staff have to create a better client experience

Advocacy specialists and other direct service and support staff are often a wealth of valuable information about client risk and ways that organizations can improve client-centric support. They are the voice of the client in many cases. A tool that can help to systematically capture and respond to their input can increase client safety and improve client experiences.

Improve the victim’s experience

A single system that allows information to be collected once and then referenced by authorized users has significant benefits over having victims go through the traumatic or exhausting experience of providing the same information multiple times. Having this information available to authorized staff in real time ensures a truly coordinated response to victims’ needs.


Penelope & CC on devices

Ensure compliance with legislation and secure client records

A client database designed for victims’ services helps you demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements like the ones outlined by the VAWA. A central database can also meet requirements around auditing, record retention, documentation of consents and contracts. and mandatory participation in services in the case of court referrals or other perpetrator services. Systems with appropriate role-based security ensure appropriate access to information.

Solution providers with expertise in protecting client records have the appropriate technical security controls covered on your behalf.

Secure and sustain funding

A client database designed for victims’ services should allow you to easily create reports for government funders and grantors and support community advocacy and solicitation of donations. Some information systems will offer out-of-the-box or customizable reporting for specific funding sources like VOCA. A system that can facilitate both statistical reporting and storytelling can also support your fundraising efforts.

Fit within a bigger ecosystem of programs and services

Often, domestic violence and other victims’ services programs are offered within an organization providing multiple programs and services with diverse and complex needs. Having a system that naturally accommodates multiple services and can scale and adapt to changing requirements over time is critical to achieving maximum benefit and future-proofing your organization.

Partner with a vendor that supports you over the long term

Finding a partner that ensures you get the most out of your investment and can support you over the long term is critical to success. Working with industry experts that understand your needs, share best practices from similar organizations, and are willing to support you throughout your journey will ensure that you realize the benefits you hope for today and into the future.

The author Diane Stanley-Horn, MSc, is CMO and co-founder of Athena Software, creators of Penelope Case Management Solution. Diane can be reached directly at [email protected]

To learn more about how case management software could help your victim service organization visit this page.

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