Identifying collective training opportunities and strategies for professional development, as well as training interests of advocates across Maryland, is critical to providing the highest standard of services to victims of intimate partner violence.  House of Ruth Maryland will conduct a field assessment that includes a literature review, surveys, and interviews with coalition representatives and service providers in Maryland and across the country.

There are many formal and informal professional development opportunities available to victim service professionals through structured academies, multi-day trainings, day-long symposiums, workshops and webinars. Unfortunately, there are also a number of barriers to trainings that are experienced by victim service organizations that include cost, time commitment and potential to disrupt service delivery, and availability of training in their service region.

There is a need to establish realistic expectations, both for victim service providers and those who supervise them, about what baseline knowledge is essential to work in the field and what continued professional development or field expertise should be expected over time. Front-line service providers are often left frustrated at not having the solutions or resources for the numerous and complex demands they face on a daily. They deserve to feel confident in their training and ability to provide effective service.

Promoting training strategies that include core competencies and suggested timelines for developing field expertise could assure advocates that they have the essential information to do their jobs and are on a path of successful professional development.

At the same time, House of Ruth Maryland recognizes the potential to over-professionalize a field of work that’s history is grounded in community organizing, grassroots advocacy and a social justice movement. It is important to find a balance between building skill development opportunities for service providers and reducing barriers for those looking to become engaged in a movement through grassroots advocacy. Domestic violence victim service organizations must provide daily, direct social services while pursuing a larger mission toward social justice. As Kristin Anne Kelly wrote in her book, Domestic Violence and the Politics of Privacy, “the move toward professionalization has served to blunt the political content of the domestic violence movement, as individuals who came to the movement as a result of their own experiences with violence or because of their commitment to grassroots efforts to assist women are replaced by those who see the field as a career”.

This project aims to develop and share a summary of recommended core competencies for service providers and creative strategies for attaining professional development for advocates and their allies in the field that is responsive to the many issues that impact accessibility to information.

This project is only successful if it gets broad input from service providers throughout the state and nationally. To participate in this initiative or for more information about any other project in our Training Institute, please reach out at or (410) 261-3025.