22 Mar 2012

Effective Collaboration Between Agencies: STOP in Action in American Samoa

This week's story comes from American Samoa, where three STOP funded agencies collaborated to ensure safety for a survivor and her children:

Felicia*, an immigrant to American Samoa, was married to Phillip*, and had one son (age eleven) with him. She also had two older children – a seventeen-year-old girl and a fourteen-year-old boy.  Felicia lived and worked at a remotely-located plantation on land owned by Phillip’s sister, Anna*.  Anna was also Felicia’s immigration sponsor.

An individual witnessed Phillip severely abusing Felicia’s daughter and reported the abuse to Child Protective Services (CPS) of the Social Services Division, Department of Human and Social Services.  Felicia was working elsewhere on the plantation and was not present at the time of the incident.  By the time CPS caseworkers responded to the call, Felicia had arrived and requested immediate protection for herself and children.  

Victims of Crime Advocates, which also operates within the Social Services Division and receives STOP funding to provide advocacy services to victims of domestic violence, assessed Felicia, who was distraught and afraid.  She and her two younger children went immediately to the Battered Women’s Shelter (also supported with STOP funds) while her daughter was taken to the hospital.  Felicia told her advocate that she and her family lived in a shack on the mountain and had not had any contact with anyone besides her husband and Anna.  Felicia said that her husband abused her and the children, and Anna was cruel to her and her daughter and extremely demanding.  Anna would not allow Felicia’s daughter to attend school, instead forcing her to stay home and serve as her housekeeper and nanny. 

After the incident was reported and she sought refuge at the shelter, Felicia was relieved and expressed her appreciation for the protection and services she and her children received.  She also said that she wanted to return with her children to her own family and country. 

Caseworkers for both CPS and Victims of Crime Advocacy worked collaboratively with the Attorney General’s office and the police department to ensure that justice was served.  Phillip was convicted of second and third degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.  After release from prison, he will be deported back to his hometown to serve his 5 years probation. 

The Criminal Justice Agency provided funding for Felicia and her children to travel back to their country of origin.  Felicia and her children stayed at the shelter for over six months while their travel documents were processed.  Her travel to her home country was paid with STOP funds.  During a phone call that CPS caseworker later placed to Felicia, she expressed her gratitude for and appreciation of the services that she had received in American Samoa.  She said that her children were adjusting and doing well, and were surrounded by caring and loving relatives.

To take a deeper look at the promising S.T.O.P. funded work, view the S.T.O.P. in Action film. For more information on ALSO’s STOP Technical Assistance to Administrators Resource (STAAR) Project, click here. Make sure to check back next week to see if your state is featured or follow us on Twitter for these and other updates.

*Not their real names.