Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Domestic Violence/Home Care Rollout
December 10, 1999
Community Safety is one of my top priorities. Since I took office my administration has taken major steps to increase community safety.
We've established a new juvenile code and tough drunk-driving laws. We've taken action against meth labs. We've dedicated money to school safety programs. And we've developed the Offender Accountability Act, to name just a few.
But Washingtonians deserve to be safe in their homes as well as the streets.
So Washington has enacted some of the nation's strictest laws and developed some of the nation's most comprehensive programs to stop violence in the home. Shelter and advocacy programs served more than 23,000 victims across the state last year. The state's domestic violence hotline took more than 37,000 calls seeking information. But with all we have done and all we are doing, it is not enough until every instance of domestic violence ceases.
I was affected by the terrible tragedy of Linda David. We all were. But the only way we can stamp-out domestic violence, is to (1) expose it, (2) address it, and (3) build and support a network that works to prevent domestic violence before it strikes.
Based on the recommendations of my Domestic Violence Action Group and DSHS, I am proposing the following legislative and budgetary actions to strengthen the state's response to domestic violence and improve the quality of care vulnerable adults receive in their homes.
To help stop domestic violence, I propose that we:
1. Fine people convicted of domestic violence crimes an additional $500 per incident. This will provide more than $1.5 million a year. This money will be spent on prevention programs, services to victims, and better law enforcement. That is, this money will support the programs that I am proposing today.
2. With that money we will launch a public information campaign to increase awareness of domestic violence and what we can do to stop it.
3. We will provide additional training for law enforcement officers, state agency workers, and domestic violence service providers. For instance, 911 operators need to know what to do when they get calls from social service workers.
4. We're going to get tougher on people who violate court orders. For instance, courts will now be able to order batterers to keep a specified distance from victims, instead of just staying out of the house.
5. Special needs require special skills and services, so we are designating 580,000 dollars to provide more tools for the disabled, older women, children, as well as ethnic and sexual minorities. For instance, this money could provide language interpreters, child advocates, and shelters better equipped to serve older and disabled victims.
6. We will help local agencies review domestic-violence-related deaths, so we can learn what went wrong and how to prevent future tragedies.
7. We will monitor the quality of treatment programs. We are going to enforce the standards by site visits and complaint investigations. We have the standards now, but not the resources to make sure they are being met. So we're changing that.
When we talk about domestic violence, we must also look at what goes on in homes where people are receiving long-term care. We were reminded of that in the Linda David case. So I am proposing 2 million dollars in state funds in order to improve the quality of in-home care.
I propose that we:
1. Require inter-state criminal background checks for in-home care workers to better screen the people providing services.
2. We will better train the people providing home care assistance.
3. We will establish an Adult Abuse registry of persons found to have abused a vulnerable adult, which would ban them from ever being employed in long term care again.
4. We will designate staff in every region to create teams of experts to address complex cases.
5. We will computerize records so that abusers and victims can be tracked across the state.
6. We will increase the number of social workers to keep up with the increasing reports of abuse and neglect.
7. And we will develop a pilot project to train disabled clients so that they themselves can hire, fire and supervise their own home care aides.
These measures will not guarantee that domestic violence will end, or that everyone receiving home care will be completely safe. But they will help bring us closer to those goals. I hope they will have the support of the Legislature and of every citizen of this state.
The Domestic Violence Action Group's report is in your packets. Its recommendations are addressed not only to state government, but also to local law enforcement agencies, the courts, nonprofit service providers, employers, legal and health professionals, the media, and every citizen of the state. As the report points out, "government agencies cannot make our culture less violent, or improve our values, or teach our children to respect each other and themselves. Only citizens can do these things. And nothing makes a bigger difference than citizens who do."
I join the Action Group in calling on every citizen to help stamp out domestic violence.