The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Building Community Capacity within Immigrant Communities: Identifying and Engaging Multiple Stakeholders in Intimate Partner Violence Prevention

Saturday, January 19, 2013: 2:30 PM
Nautilus 2 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Mimi E. Kim, MSW, Graduate Student, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Background and Purpose:  Within the field of violence intervention and prevention, advocates and policymakers have shifted from a criminal justice orientation and an individualized vision for social services to one that includes proactive community engagement (Goodman & Smyth, 2011).  The expansion of the direct service model to one that engages multiple stakeholders to play an active role in interpersonal violence (IPV) intervention and prevention uses a community capacity orientation to social change (Mancini, et al., 2008).  As a result, community capacity building has become an important, yet under-conceptualized, concept in this area.  Earlier efforts to conceptualize community capacities have failed to clearly identify different levels of community stakeholders. For example, community based organization (CBO) staff, service users, and community leaders may be involved in a single initiative, yet require distinct engagement strategies. This paper investigates the concept of community capacity building for challenging IPV in immigrant communities within a larger study of an innovative faith-based curriculum sponsored by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Strengthening What Works Initiative. 

Methods: This case study examines the concept and utility of capacity building with IPV stakeholders within an ethnic-specific immigrant CBO. Using community based participatory research and an orientation towards practice-based evidence (Green, 2008) promoted by the RWJF, this project identifies various stakeholder levels in community capacity building.  Focusing on the stakeholder levels of CBO staff and an advisory council of community faith leaders, the study explores Labonte & Laveracke’s (2001) nine community capacity domains (participation, leadership, organizational structures, problem assessment, ability to ask ‘why’, resource mobilization, links with others, role of outside agents, program management) to further conceptualize and refine instruments measuring community capacity. The study uses qualitative inquiry to collectively operationalize these domains and determine staff ability to use these dimensions to grow capacities. Data was collected over ten months. Data were coded and thematically analyzed to look at conceptual fit and community capacity building over time.

Results:  Findings indicate that the interrogation and operationalization of community capacity domains enhanced CBO staff performance within these domains and, hence, improved community capacity building efforts.  Ensuring the relevance of these domains and measures to concepts and practices familiar to stakeholders enhanced their ability to participate in quality data collection and to perceive this process as applicable and beneficial to their project goals. For example, advisory group members observed and measured levels of participation (Domain 1) at each meeting. Post-meeting evaluations, including analysis of the facilitator and the group dynamics, informed subsequent engagement strategies, contributing to equal and active participation, and, hence, to overall community capacity building.

Implications: This study suggests the relevance of community capacity building concepts and instruments for immigrant communities working in the arena of IPV intervention and prevention when stakeholders are intentionally engaged and involved in their conceptualization. Translation of qualitative indicators into quantitative measures and comparison across organizations and communities working on issues of IPV are important next steps. These measures can then be used to determine predictors and effects of community capacity development for community-engaged solutions to IPV.