The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters has introduced information-sharing agreements for women in need of their services. The agreements, part of the Blueprint Project, allow 23 total stakeholder agencies in Red Deer and Grande Prairie to share information for women and users experiencing domestic violence seeking support services.
Amber Chenard, who works with Odyssey House as a support worker in Grande Prairie, says this represents a breakthrough for potential clients.
“It makes a huge difference, the agreement helps to create wraparound services. It not only makes a difference for the people seeking support services but also those groups offering the services,” she says.
Chenard says that work has been ongoing to create these agreements between stakeholders for a while.
“It has been some time. There has been a back-end part of it by the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. It was brought to our location almost a year ago in Grande Prairie, ever since then these agreements have been in the works,” she says.
Chenard feels confident that Odyssey House can continue to provide care for women in need and she says the admissions process remains the same.
“What you’re looking at is if they come in and they’ve accessed other services, we will be able to share some of their information, as long as they are okay with that. We are then able to offer wraparound services to them that way,” she says.
A key part of the agreement is trying to address systemic barriers that Indigenous, refugee, and newcomer women face while being subject to increased levels of violence.
“That is definitely a problem throughout all of Canada. We have our communities of practice with the Blueprint Project that specifically look at that subject, while at the same time we are working to find solutions with other community groups that are involved locally,” she says.
Chenard feels that the bottom line here is that this helps women of domestic violence get the care they need, without the stress.
“The client won’t need to look around and try to navigate everything. Instead, services will be around them, as they should be. They shouldn’t have that added stress when in crisis or traumatized,” she adds.
Odyssey House and 12 other organizations in the Grande Prairie area have signed the agreement. Anyone experiencing domestic violence can connect with a shelter via the ACWS confidential and toll-free line at 1-866-331-3933.