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General Institutional Analysis Resources

Resources designed specifically for communities considering or currently working on institutional analysis, community assessment, best practice assessment, or a Safety Audit; available for free download or to purchase.

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Planning and Conducting a Domestic Violence Best Practice Assessment
Implementation of Recommendations
Checklists for Improving Community Response
Safety Audit Informational video
DV Safety and Accountability Audit
Potential Interagency Connections
Text Analysis as a Tool for CCRs
How Safety Audits can Help Court Decisions in DV and Child Maltreatment
Building Safety for Battered Women and their Children in CPS
Safety Audit Toolkit
Safety for Battered Women in a Textually Mediated Legal System

Safety and Services: Women of Color Speak About Their Communities

Planning and Conducting a Best-Practice Assessment of Community Response to
Domestic Violence

Two new Best Practice Assessment Tools are available for communities who want to use the lessons learned from CCR efforts and Safety Audits to examine their system's response to battering. The assessment tools will help you analyze your community's response in these areas:

 Emergency Communications (911) &  Police Patrol
Police Follow-up Investigations & Prosecution Charging Decisions

 Implementation of Safety Audit Recommendations to Domestic Violence

Communities across the country have struggled with how to move from the investigation phase of the Audit to the crucial phase of the implementation of audit recommendations. To find out more, in March of 2010, we interviewed seven audit coordinators and two lead audit team members from eight different communities about their experience implementing recommendations identified by their audits. This report is an overview of the interviews that we hope will assist current and future auditors to anticipate and avoid common pitfalls and plan for and utilize successful strategies to implement recommendations. The report summarizes themes that arose during the interviews in the following areas related to implementation of audit recommendations: process and administration, impact of the audit, challenges to implementation, recommendations not implemented, and central lessons for other communities. Also included is a site-specific summary of approaches to implementation.

Implementation survey

 Best Practice Checklists for Improving Community Response to Domestic Violence

Praxis has condensed and revised the Best Practice Assessment tools we released in 2010 (scroll below for more information) into four separate best practice checklists. These checklists can be used by interagency groups to conduct abbreviated reviews of case files produced in 911, patrol, investigation and prosecution charging decisions. The checklists lend themselves to a relatively quick review of case files or reports by an interagency team to help your community’s intervention agencies determine their adherence to best practices. The essence of the fuller assessment guide is now more accessible to communities who wanted to do a quick review or use them as an exercise in their CCR work.


The Safety and Accountability Audit Informational Video

This 14-minute DVD features a description of the Audit process as well as feedback and testimony from criminal justice practitioners across the U.S. who have been a part of Audits in their communities.

To request a free copy, email your name and the name of your OVW grantee program.
The cost is $6 for non-OVW funded programs to defray production and mailing costs.

 Order Form

 Domestic Violence Safety & Accountability Audit

A three-page handout briefly describing the Safety and Accountability Audit’s philosophical underpinnings and methodology. This can be used as a reference when describing the Audit in grant applications.


  Domestic Violence Safety & Accountability Audit - Potential Interagency Connections

Mapping is a method used in the Safety & Accountability Audit process to breakdown the steps taken in an agencies response to a case. This is a sample map of potential inter agency connections arising from the processing of a domestic violence case in the criminal justice system.

 Sample interagency map

Safety Audio graphic 
Text Analysis as a Tool for a Coordinated Community Response: Keeping Safety for Battered Women and their Children at the Center

This guide for Coordinated Community Response (CCR) and Audit teams will help you identify gaps in safety in your criminal justice system response to battered women and their children. All practitioners charged with intervening in cases of battering—from law enforcement officers to advocates to child protection workers—are organized by guidelines, report-writing formats, intake forms, and policies so that they do their jobs with relative consistency. To enhance safety for battered women and their children, a CCR team can examine the gaps between the safety needs of battered women and how an institution has organized its workers, through "text", to respond to domestic assaults.

Guide (1.7 MB)
Appendices (7.5 MB)

 Working from Inside and Outside Institutions: How Safety Audits Can Help Courts'
Decision Making Around Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment
Ellen Pence and Martha McMahon, 2003

Reprinted with permission from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Juvenile and Family Court Journal, Vol. 54, No. 4.

As systems begin to work collaboratively to address the overlap of domestic violence and child maltreatment, systems analysis approaches are also being explored to test the effectiveness of collaborative interventions in meeting the needs of victims and their families. This article provides a detailed overview of the Safety Audit model, describes how Safety Audits are being used in the field, and discusses how the courts can incorporate Audit findings into decision-making around domestic violence and child maltreatment.

 Download article 

 Building Safety for Battered Women and Their Children into the
Child Resource cover imageProtection System
Ellen Pence and Terri Taylor, 2003

This report draws from the experience of three separate communities that wanted to explore the use of the Safety and Accountability Audit in child protection cases where there has been a history of domestic violence. This report shows how to use case files and focus groups to locate systemic problems in the handling of these cases. It is a preliminary examination of the problematic practices in working with battered women within a child protection case.

 Download article 

 Praxis Safety and Accountability Audit Toolkit
Resource cover image
This toolkit is a critical how-to guide for communities assessing their institutional responses to violence against women. Specifically, it details the process for assessing the criminal justice system response to domestic violence. The method, commonly referred to as a safety audit, community assessment, and/or institutional analysis, has been applied to other institutional processes to improve outcomes for women and children, including child protection, family court, custody determinations, supervised visitation and exchange centers, and sexual assault criminal cases, and it has been adapted to examine disparity in foster care placements for African American children. Intended for local community use, the guides, templates, illustrations, and check lists outline the Audit's philosophical underpinnings, clarify the data collection steps and methodologies, and provide a knowledge base for a team's work.

Order Form

Note: Praxis offers free assistance to communities interested in using the methods described in this toolkit. We encourage you to access this assistance frequently throughout the planning and implementation of your local assessment/audit: Individual phone and email assistance, monthly webinars, annual training, and additional tools and resources. We also engage in more intensive, customized assistance through contracts with individual programs and communities using onsite and distance consultation and training.

For more information about assistance available, contact Maren Woods, Program Manager, at or 651-699-8000, ext. 10.

 Safety for Battered Women in a Textually Mediated Legal System
Ellen Pence

 Download Chapters 1 - 4 
 Download Chapters 5 - conclusion

Safety and Services: Women of Color Speak About Their Communities

This report discusses the themes and findings from a series of listening sessions (or focus groups) conducted by The Center for Family Policy and Practice (CFFPP) in four states (Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, and Wisconsin) to explore and document domestic violence service priorities as identified by: 1) women of color who are victims/survivors of domestic violence, 2) advocates of color, and 3) a broad range of community service providers. Each group was asked a similar series of questions about the kinds of services that are available to low-income women of color, barriers that get in the way of women utilizing services, unmet and outstanding needs, the kinds of services that are available for men in the community, and perspectives on providing collaborative, community-based services in low-income communities of color. An underlying premise of this report is that differences in race, culture, class, and gender frame people’s experiences and delineate their options. Our goal is to appreciate the context and attend to the impact of race and class in the lives of low-income women of color as we work to develop and improve domestic violence services in traditionally underserved communities.

Safety and Services: Women of Color Speak About Their Communities

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