Cross-systems Collaborations for Supporting Children and the Non-abusive Parent Involved with the Child Welfare System

Intimate partner violence is a serious and preventable public health problem that impacts millions of women, men and children every year. Families who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) often come to the attention of the child welfare system. Despite involvement with many of the same clients, child welfare and intimate partner violence advocacy agencies often operate in isolation from each other.

Historically, child welfare systems and other community response systems viewed victims of IPV from a ‘deficit model,’ where victims of violence are seen as suffering from an inherent problem or deficit that compromises their ability to parent effectively. Recent research has demonstrated that while some victims of IPV may develop compromised parenting, others respond with increased sensitivity and attentiveness to their children. Many child welfare agencies across the country, including Connecticut, have moved away from the deficit model towards a strengths based model to improve their agency’s response to IPV.

Research overwhelmingly demonstrates that effective responses to children who witness intimate partner violence prioritize supporting the relationship between the child and the non-abusive parent and holding the abusive parent accountable for his or her behavior. Children do best when their parents are supported in their parenting roles. Punitive attitudes and practices towards the non-abusive parent have shown little success for achieving these goals. Cross-systems collaborations between child welfare agencies and community-based domestic violence providers are critical to ensuring the safety and well-being of the child and non-abusive parent.

Our newest policy brief discusses policy considerations for strengthening cross-systems collaborations to meet the needs of these families, including:

  • Strengthen partnerships between domestic violence advocates and child welfare workers;
  • Provide comprehensive cross-systems training that ensures a trauma-informed approach;
  • Highlight and support the role of victims as parents; and,
  • Hold abusive parents accountable and increase access to domestic violence offender programs.

Read the full policy brief.