Rutgers School of Social Work's Center on Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) has partnered with Homeless Solutions, a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization helping the homeless and working poor, to provide educational opportunities for staff to learn about interpersonal violence. 

“Our work with Homeless Solutions is particularly important at the moment because homelessness and domestic violence are on the rise,” explains Gabrielle Gault, Training Coordinator at VAWC. “Partnerships like this allow us to learn from the community and ensure that our research and professional training programming is informed by those working on the ground. People who are serving their communities often connect with domestic violence survivors – many times unknowingly – and they can be a lifeline. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that those experiencing violence feel empowered and supported, which starts with our own response and continues with knowing where they can turn for help.”

The program, which kicked off in January, consists of ten training sessions delivered virtually. A fully customized program, VAWC will deliver trainings to Homeless Solutions staff in five core competency areas in addition to five electives tailored to meet their specific needs. At the end of the program, participants will receive a Violence Against Women Professional Certificate. 

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“There is a significant intersection between domestic violence and homelessness, so much so that at any given time, more than half of the women in our shelter programs are domestic violence survivors,” says Shannon Muti, Associate Director of Programs & Services at Homeless Solutions. “Our staff is so thankful for this training opportunity.  We will be able to create a safer, more trauma-informed environment for the DV survivors in our programs, which will allow them to better focus on their goals and move forward.”

Two Homeless Solutions employees enrolled in the training program explain its importance to their work. “The training was informative and eye opening,” says Employment and Housing Specialist Dominic Costanzo. “Domestic Violence is a complex issue, and I hope to learn skills that will better assist me in helping this vulnerable population find employment and housing.” Costanzo’s colleague Emily Legg, 

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Supportive Housing Division Manager, echoes his sentiment. “We rely on our partners for counseling and safety planning for our DV survivors,” she says. “I am personally excited for this training to be able to increase our knowledge and awareness and strengthen our ability to provide support in-house to those that enter our programs.”

At the culmination of the certificate series, Homeless Solutions participants will be able to:

  • Describe various form of power-based violence and identify the impact of trauma on the lives of survivors with special attention to Domestic Violence.
  • Recognize their role as professionals in assisting survivors of abuse.
  • Understand the goals, principals, and ethics around screening and assessing for abuse.
  • Offer appropriate empowerment-based resources and interventions.
  • Make decisions rooted in ethical principles that ensure safety, empowerment, and collaboration for survivors and their families.
  • Provide tailored support to meet the needs of survivors and their families based on the additional specialty areas of concentration selected.

Founded in 2007, VAWC is a field leader in providing research informed professional development and customized training to meet the needs of individuals and statewide agencies. To explore the courses offered, or how to earn your certificate, email