Topic: Violence and abuse

Knowledge- quality- capacity: A national assessment of women’s shelters competency and availability

Jonassen, W., Sogn, H., Olsvik, V. M., & Hjemdal, O. K. (2008). Kunnskap - kvalitet - kapasitet: En nasjonal utredning om krisesentrenes kompetanse og tilgjengelighet [Knowledge- quality- capacity: A national assessment of women’s shelters competency and availability] Norwegian only. (Rapport 2/2008).

The study concerns women’s shelters; service users, availability, how well staffed they are and employee’s skill level. The Ministry of Children and Equality assigned the study in conjunction with the government’s evaluation of whether women’s shelters should be regulated under Norwegian legislation.

Main questions of the study:

  • who uses women’s shelters
  • should the services provided be expanded
  • how do women’s shelters provide assistance, especially to vulnerable groups of individuals
  • what expertise is found or should be found at women’s shelters
  • how can these skills be further developed and established

Furthermore the study has focused on how well staffed the centers are as well as their availability to the general public by looking at their location both physically and geographically.

The assessment is mainly based on a questionnaire given to head management at 51 women’s shelters during the fall of 2007. Also used is data from a survey from 2006 on women’s shelters availability and also an unpublished survey from 2005 about service users that have been turned down from centers.

Women’s shelter’s service users
Women’s shelters are primarily a service offered to abused women and their children. 7 centers also provide assistance to men subjected to violence in a close relationship, but most of these men do not reside at the centers but receive assistance during the daytime.

Women’s shelters also have service users with special needs, such as children and adolescents, women with physical disabilities and ethnic minority women. These individuals need physical considerations, extra staff and specialized special needs staff as well as concrete arrangements.

Only half of the centers had specialized staff that knew how to help children in crises, and only one-fourth had staff with (at least) some knowledge on how to assist women with physical disabilities.

There is need for more focus on children and adolescents’ needs and women with physical disabilities needs and the practical measures needed to meet these. There is also a great need for more knowledge on providing assistance for minority ethnic women, which includes; knowledge of translating services, networking groups, use of “culture intermediaries” and providing information- and advertisement about women’s shelters in different languages.

Employees’ skill level
Two-thirds of head of management are educated at a university-or college level, but only half of management have degrees in relevant subjects, such as; social- or health studies, teaching and education studies or other relevant subjects at a university level. Other staff with high levels of education, have degrees in economics, administration and leadership. For a long time, women’s shelters have requested training and education on topics related to the women’s shelters own activities.

The report provides several recommendations on the further development of women’s shelters.