An Innovative and Effective New Collaborative Framework
The CAS/VAW Co-Location Model
The CAS/VAW Co-location Model is the actioned embodiment of over a decade of stakeholder feedback, government action plan objectives, coroner and death review committee recommendations, and widely espoused best practices: with adamant calls for collaboration coming from each of these sources, there can be little doubt about the crucial importance of meaningful collaboration between child welfare and violence against women agencies. Where previous CAS/VAW Collaborative Agreements outlined collaborative objectives on paper, the Co-location Model has put meaningful service integration and knowledge-sharing into action, to the ultimate benefit of women, children, and families living with violence.
The Co-location Model includes two violence against women (VAW) workers from two Toronto-based VAW shelters who were co-located at the Children Aid Society of Toronto (CAST) and one VAW worker from a counselling agency co-located at the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS).
The project’s goal was to establish an effective service delivery model that involved collaboration between Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and VAW workers: a model that would lead to reduced risk and enhanced safety for victims of abuse and increased positive outcomes for families, as well as more effective knowledge exchange, communication, and collaboration between CAS and VAW agencies.
It should be noted that, "co-location" refers to having VAW workers from Toronto VAW agencies located at both Catholic Children’s Aid Society and Children Aid Society of Toronto offices to provide intake and front-line services, as opposed to other models which might involve two or more agencies operating within the same physical facility. The "co-location model" is an integrated collaborative service model where VAW workers are placed in the Child Welfare agencies and incorporated into the process of connecting and providing client specific service to women identified to be experiencing violence.
Outcomes from the Co-location Model continue to be tracked and documented. To date, it has had proven critical impact in the following areas:
1. Effective risk and lethality assessments 2. Immediate and effective safety planning 3. Willingness of women to disclose family violence and work with agencies that address family violence 4. Increased engagement of the abuser, which may lead to greater overall safety for victims of violence 5. Immediate, efficient, and effective access to expanded and coordinated services 6. Increased systemic efficiencies in terms of service provision 7. Decreased demand on other service agencies (e.g., VAW and homeless shelters)
With the continued and expanded implementation of this model of service delivery, there is a valuable opportunity to ensure reduced risk and enhanced safety for victims of abuse and increased positive outcomes for families, as well as more effective knowledge exchange, communication, and collaboration between CAS and VAW agencies.
The Co-location Model was launched in Toronto in 2012 with time-limited funding support from the Ministry of Community and Social Service (MCSS)’s regional office, and additional funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS). Given the demonstrable impact that the model has had, the CAS/VAW Collaboration Advisory Committee is seeking ongoing core funding for the continuation of this landmark work.