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We could use your help. If you are interested in making a corporate donation for 2008, please e-mail Michael Robinson. As always, thank you for your generous support!

In the News

Monday, August 10, 2009

Update: California Parental Alienation Bill, AB 612

We want to apologize for this late update on AB 612, the California bill that was carried by Assemblyman Beall that would have prevented a court from considering evidence that a parent had deliberately engaged in tactics and behavior that intentionally estranges a Childs bond with their other parent.

Before we continue we want to pay special tribute to: The Family Law Executive Committee of the California State Bar (FLEXCOM) and The California Psychologist Association (CPA) for their outstanding work and help this year on making sure committee staff and members were better informed and educated on Parental Alienation.

As a result of all of the hard work that went into this bill, it was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee and because of the way the rules work the issue will not be able to be heard again until June 2010.

We want to encourage you to read both the Assembly Judiciary Committee Analysis and the Senate Judiciary Committee Analysis on the bill. After reading these analysis’s you will plainly see that the education that was done made a big impact. We are hopeful that legislators and staff have been well enough educated on the issue this time around that no reasonable person would even considering carrying another piece of legislation that would attempt to do what this was trying to do.

This was the third year in a row now that CAFC has had to deal with this issue and bill. You can read more about our past involvement here.

This year after early discussions with the lead persons for FLEXCOM and CPA handling the bill, it was agreed early on that stronger educating efforts for committee staff and members was need. Although our combined past efforts had included educating committee staff and members, this years efforts pulled out all stop to make sure that staff had the best and most accurate information on the issue. Some of this was covered in our earlier post here.

Additionally in our discussions with FLEXCOM and the CPA we all shared the concerns that this bill could have had the potential to turn into a debate about gender and take the focus off the merits and facts of the issue. As a result CAFC was asked to contact one of the prominent advocates for men and fathers, Glenn Sacks of Fathers & Family and making the difficult request that they not get involved or engage in the bill.

Too this end we want to thank both Glenn Sacks and Fathers & Family for not only agreeing to the request, but also understanding and honoring it. This is a very emotionally charged issue and we know how difficult it is to stay quit and not act sometimes. And we want to applaud Glenn and the folks at Fathers & Families for showing some real disciplined and mature restraint. We hope that if any of their members and readers who may have been upset understands that Glenn and Fathers and Families acted in your best interest. More importantly they acted in the best interest of children. The final results are proof of this.

We also want to acknowledge that some of the complaints that the sponsors of the bill have some merits also. Namely, the use of parental alienation being used as a tactical weapon in child custody cases. As we have stated before that this has and is occurring in some cases, and is being exploited in the same way some use restraining orders to gain a tactical advantage in a child custody case. Parents who intentional exploited either should be sanctioned heavily for using these tactics because of the harm it causes children.

It is of our opinion that the way forward to address everyone’s concern is through better education on the issue. And we are hoping that cool heads will prevail and any future debate and discussion on this and other family law matters can be done in a respectful way that produces sound policy that serves the best interest of 21st century children and future generations.

While we know that the current economy is making it hard for all of you, we ask that everyone do what they can to donate to help assure our continued operations. And we can not thank those of you who are already contributing enough. Also please tell friends and family about us.

We are all in this together and together we can fix the problems children and families are currently facing. We thank you in advance for your continued support and donations.

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From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: Post Conference Follow Up

As some of you are aware CAFC recently held our third conference on Domestic Violence on June 26-28, 2009 in Los Angles, California. The title of this year’s conference, “From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention” – was as equally as successful as our historic; “From Ideology to Inclusion: Evidence-Based Policy and Intervention in Domestic Violence." February 15-16, 2008, Sacramento, California.

While our first conference that we held in 2007 did not receive the international attention that these last two have produced, it did get all of this started. Read about it here.

Some of the reviews from the 2009 conference can be read here, and the Post Conference Brochure can be seen here. You can also read more about our 2008 conference here, and information about our DVDs from the 2008 conference here. The DVDs from our 2009 conference will also bee available soon so keep check back for the 2009 catalog as well.

Most of the presenters who presented at this years conference serve on the editorial board of the new peer-reviewed journal, Partner Abuse, published quarterly by Springer publishing. For more information, go to http://www.springerpub.com/journal.aspx?jid=1946-6560 .

While our first conference that we held in 2007 did not receive the international attention that these last two have produce it did get all of this started.

CAFC also wants to give a special thanks to the Family Violence Treatment and Education Association (FAVTEA) for their Co-Sponsorship and help with volunteers at the conference.

In addition we also want to thank The Saxton Family Foundation for a grant that made our 2008 conference and DVDs possible.

To give you an idea of just a few major impacts that our conferences have already had, we have been working with judicial officers who attended our 2008 conference and as a result Idaho is close to a major overhaul of their domestic violence policy. A treatment provider in Utah received from their states licensing division the approval to use our DVD materials for training staff. Several Universities have purchased the DVD set for their Libraries and as result of some attendees of our 2008 conference Taiwan even changed their laws and policies as seen here.

CAFC is the only non-profit organization nationally on this side of the debate on policy issues affecting families and children that is fully approved as a Continuing Education Provider for CEUs for Mental Health Practitioners, Batter Intervention Providers, Family Court Mediator & Evaluators, and Attorneys. Read more about this here.

We have even had a major impact on shelters through our educational process that can bee seen in this recent paper by a program developer for one of California’s oldest shelters that can be seen here. We want to also thank John Hamel, LCSW and Dr. Linda Mills for their help that played a heavy role with this transformation.

While we know that the current economy is making it hard for all of you, we ask that everyone do what they can to donate to help assure our continued operations. And we can not thank those of you who are already contributing enough. Also please tell friends and family about us.

We are all in this together and together we can fix the problems children and families are currently facing. We thank you in advance for your continued support and donations.

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CAFC Becomes Approved Continuing Education Units Provider:

Yes folks you read that right, CAFC is now the only non-profit organization nationally on this side of the debate on policy issues affecting families and children that is fully approved as a Continuing Education Provider for CEUs for Mental Health Practitioners, Batter Intervention Providers, Family Court Mediators & Evaluators, and Attorneys.

Our approval status as Continuing Education Units Course Providers was obtained a few months back and covers approvals from the California Psychologist Association for psychologists, the California Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts, Children & Families Division, for mediators and evaluators and The State Bar of California for attorneys.

Also because of our affiliation with The Family Violence Treatment and Education Association (FAVTEA) and their Co-Sponsorship of our conferences we have been able to offer CEUs to MFTs &LCSWs, and Batterer Interventions Providers. CAFC is in the works of obtaining CEU provider status in this area as well under our own name.

What all of this mean to you is we can do training that no other group is, or can do, to meet the mandated ongoing annual education requirements that practitioners and treatment providers are require to do.

What this means is we are providing evidence-based educational materials to those who are possible decision makers that you may be affected by. In the end, the outcomes of you’re or future cases stand a better chance of producing better outcomes for you, your family and children if the education of the professionals is based on evidence-based research and treatment model rather than ideology.

While we know that the current economy is making it hard for all of you, we ask that everyone do what they can to donate to help assure our continued operations. And we can not thank those of you who are already contributing enough. Also please tell friends and family about us.

We are all in this together and together we can fix the problems children and families are currently facing. We thank you in advance for your continued support and donations.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

CAFC Helps Disabled Veterans with Family Law Reform:

The California Alliance for Families and Children is thrilled that nearly 10 months of work have resulted in getting a bill introduced in the California Legislature that will uphold existing federal law -- USC, Title 38, Section 5301, governing third party disbursement of disabled veterans' benefits compensation.

The bill, SB 285, is being carried by California Senator Rod Wright, and even though CAFC spearheaded the issue here in California, we have asked one of the veterans groups that we have had a long association with, the American Retirees Association (ARA), to make a formal request to Senator Wright’s office to be the bill's official sponsor.

Although United States Code, Title 38, Section 5301 is very clear in its wording and intent, civil court judges nationwide have routinely ignored the U.S. Code and calculated veterans’ disability compensation into divorce settlements as a divisible asset or income.

And it's just not men; it's also disabled female veterans experiencing these problems when they get divorced or declare bankruptcy.

CAFC’s Executive Director, Michael Robinson, first became aware of the problem mid-year in 2008, after hearing from other vet groups about the problem. See CAFC Fact Sheet Here or SB 285 author Rod Wright's Fact Sheet Here.

SB 285 was originally for another family law code, but the author, Senator Wright, amended the bill to correct this problem on April 2, 2009.

The same day, CAFC’s Michael Robinson was already scheduled to attend the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) meeting. His attendance was requested by Dennis Egge, President of the ARA. The CSCVC is made up of representatives from 19 vet groups and meets every 6 months. The purpose of the April 2, 2009 meeting was for going over general business and reviewing current California legislation affecting veterans. Robinson left the meeting with unanimous support from all 19 veterans groups, and is organizing support letters and witnesses to testify for the committee hearings.

Additionally a news story on the issue broke on the same day out of Iowa on KWQC-TV6. Read the news story or watch the video from KWQC-TV6.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Los Angeles Conference Shatters Myths About Domestic Violence

Contact: John Hamel, LCSW
Phone: (415) 472-3275
Fax: (415) 472-3285
Email: johnmhamel@comcast.net

SACRAMENTO, CA: The recent media attention to the Chris Brown-Rihanna allegations of domestic violence has led to national interest again for this serious problem. It has also, unfortunately, reignited many common misperceptions concerning domestic violence. The world's leading experts in the field will address these misperceptions, and present the latest, most cutting-edge research findings at what has been billed as the "Domestic Violence Conference of the Decade," From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention, June 26-28 at the Airport Marriot Hotel, Los Angeles, California.

The electronic media tend to simplify and distort domestic violence causes and consequences and perpetuate unexamined half-truths. Stanley Katz on the Larry King show claimed that while women could be aggressive, only men could be "abusive" and that, if a man hits his wife, he will hit his children. Looking with intense certainty into the camera, Oprah Winfrey told her audience "if he hits you once he will hit you again." Denise Brown, sister of Nicole Brown- Simpson, stated "if he threatens to kill you, he will." These claims, which have a risk of being inflammatory and fear inducing, have all been contradicted by a large body of rigorous and methodologically sophisticated research.

A national survey that assessed chronic, controlling, fear-inducing violence in Canada revealed that 4.2% of women and 2.6% of men reported being so victimized; and studies in community populations reveal that only 6% of men who abuse their wives will also abuse their children. A study done at the University of New Hampshire by Dr. Murray Straus, one of the Los Angeles Conference's featured speakers, examined the inevitability of repeat domestic violence. In a group of husbands identified in a national survey as using severe violence repeatedly toward their wives, one year later follow-ups revealed that 57% were still using severe violence, 33% were non-violent, and 10% had reduced their violence to a minor level. These men, however, had changed their behavior on their own. Moreover, if men seek cognitive-behavioral treatment and complete it, only one in five repeats the violence.

It is important, of course, that a once-violent client complete their treatment and honor their promises, but it is simply not true that everyone who is violent once will repeat. As for the claim that threats of homicide lead to homicide, the evidence again says something else. In a national study of adults in the age group of Chris Brown, credible threats to kill were made by males at 500 times the homicide rate, and by females at 2000 times the actual homicide rate. People often say things they will never carry out. Unfortunately our ability to predict who will carry out the threat is imperfect. While no one wants to minimize the risk for domestic violence, it is important to keep things in perspective and not misstate that risk. No one is well-served by alarmist and inaccurate rhetoric.

This rhetoric persists because for many years the field of domestic violence has been politicized, rendering discussion of significant issues such as male victims, female perpetrators, mutual abuse and alternative, evidence-based policies difficult at best.
In the media, for instance, one rarely hears about male victims, even though men suffer one-third of all domestic violence related injuries. (Scant coverage has been given to Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Geno Hayes, who on March 7 was stabbed in the head and neck by his girlfriend.)

Once again co-sponsored by the California Alliance for Families and Children (www.cafcusa.org) and the Family Violence Treatment and Education Association (www.favtea.com), and featuring editorial board members from the new peer-reviewed journal, Partner Abuse (www.springerpub.com/pa), this year's program seeks to build on the themes explored at the historic 2008 event, with a total of 20 exciting presentations examining domestic violence from a research-based, rather than an ideological perspective. In addition to Dr. Straus, presenters will include:
  • Deborah Capaldi, PhD — on Gender and the Dynamics of Partner Violence
  • Daniel K. O'Leary, PhD — on Multivariate Models of Partner Aggression
  • Don Dutton, PhD — on Gender Bias in the Family Court System
  • Denise Hines, PhD, Jan Brown and Carol Crabsen, LCSW — on Providing Services to All Victims Regardless of Gender
  • Richard Gelles, PhD — on Partner Violence and Children
  • Lynette Feder, PhD — on the Need for More Vigorous Research Methods
  • Christopher Maxwell, PhD and Joel Garner PhD — on Public Policy and Improving Our Responses to Domestic Violence
  • Daniel Sonkin, PhD — on Domestic Violence and the Neurobiology of Attachment
  • Richard Felson, PhD — on Partner Violence and Criminality
  • Ken Corvo, PhD, Christopher Eckhardt, PhD, Lonnie Hazelwood and Michelle Carney, PhD — on Recent Research on Batterer Intervention Programs
  • Ellen Bowen, LCSW and Kimberly Flemke, PhD — on Working with Abusive Women
  • Sandra Stith, PhD, Eric McCollum, PhD, John Hamel, LCSW, Jodi Klugman-Rabb, MFT, Wendy Bunston, and Arlene Vetere, LCSW — on Systemic, Couples and Family Interventions
  • Carolyn West, PhD — on Treating Partner Violence in African-American Families
  • And Special Guest Erin Pizzey, founder of the battered women's shelter movement, answering questions in a special Q&A.

The conference schedule, with presentation abstracts and bios, and registration information, are available at www.cafcusa.org.

Donald Dutton, PhD
Ken Corvo, PhD
John Hamel, LCSW, Conference Co-Chair
Michael Robinson, Conference Co-Chair

  • Donald Dutton, Ph.D., was the expert for the prosecution in the OJ Simpson spousal homicide case. He has written over 100 peer reviewed articles and four books on domestic violence. He is Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia.
  • Kenneth Corvo, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Syracuse University and has worked, taught, and written extensively in the field of domestic violence.
  • John Hamel, LCSW, is a certified Batterer Intervention Provider in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also a researcher, with three published books, and Editor-in-Chief of Partner Abuse, a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by Springer Publishing.
  • Michael Robinson is the Executive Director for the California Alliance for Families and Children (CAFC) and a Policy Consultant in the area of Family and Juvenile Law, Foster Care and Youth Services, and Domestic Violence.
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