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Efforts by Child Welfare Agencies to Address Domestic Violence: The Experiences of Five Communities

NCJ Number
Date Published
158 pages
This report focuses on recent efforts by child welfare agencies in five communities to take account of battering experienced by mothers in cases of child abuse and neglect.

The first chapter reviews the literature on the overlap of domestic violence and child maltreatment and describes the study's site-selection criteria and procedures. The next five chapters describe efforts to integrate domestic violence concerns into child welfare agency practice in each community visited. One of the general themes found in the study is that child welfare agencies have initiated changes from different organizational points within their agencies and have taken different approaches for changing case practice. A second theme is that child welfare agencies have experience in services to protect children but are breaking new ground when they attempt to address domestic violence. These agencies cannot make appropriate changes without major and continuing collaboration with community stakeholders who work with domestic violence victims and perpetrators and know the issues involved. A third theme is that changes to child welfare agency practice linked to a strategy to address domestic violence will also benefit from collaborative policy development with police, civil and criminal courts, corrections (probation and parole), the schools, and local clinics and hospitals. The final chapter integrates findings from the site visits and literature review. In discussing changes in case practice within child welfare agencies, suggestions relate to where within the agency to start; how to expand; issues of staff motivation, understanding, and commitment; and issues of resources and tools internal to the agency. The discussion then turns to the community context and the need to coordinate with other agencies and service providers. The final chapter concludes by reviewing several complex policy issues for child welfare agencies, including whether or not child protective services should screen families affected by domestic violence for child abuse and neglect; how to consider children who witness their mother's abuse; and what to do when actions to protect a child conflict with what is necessary to protect the mother. 39 references

Date Published: January 1, 1997