Domestic violence often occurs alongside child abuse and neglect, therefore its prevention is critical for child abuse prevention as well. Approximately 30 to 60 percent of children from homes where domestic abuse is present are also victims of abuse themselves. Domestic violence constitutes the single greatest precursor of child maltreatment fatalities.
When the intersection of domestic violence and child maltreatment is overlooked, child welfare interventions can further compromise the children they are seeking to protect.
Communities should establish responses to domestic violence and child maltreatment that offer meaningful help to families, including protections for all victims from physical harm. Child welfare administrators and court personnel should try to keep children affected by maltreatment and domestic violence in the care of the non-offending parent.
The Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody (Resource Center), a project of the NCJFCJ, is nationally recognized for its leadership and provision of training and technical assistance to professionals seeking to improve outcomes on child welfare and child custody cases involving domestic violence.
The NCJFCJ provided technical assistance related to the Initiative, based on the Effective Interventions in Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment Cases: Guidelines for Policy and Practice, a federally funded project that saw child welfare workers, domestic violence advocates, and family court judges change their approach to domestic violence to help battered women and their children achieve better safety outcomes.
The Resource Center website contains educational publications and other information designed to support the safe and trauma-informed interactions between survivors of domestic violence and their children, the courts, and other systems.
The Resource Center hosts educational webinars that reach participants on a range of co-occurrence topics, including working with men who batter, collaborative practice in domestic violence and child welfare, culturally informed child welfare intervention, enhanced guardian ad litem (GAL) practice, and the needs of self-represented litigants.
The NCJFCJ holds an annual training for judicial officers handling child welfare cases, the Child Abuse and Neglect Institute, which includes an extensive segment on reasonable efforts in domestic violence cases.
Nationally, child welfare agencies should develop policies for domestic violence identification and intervention that are informed by promising and research-supported practices. The NCJFCJ’s vision is for child welfare agencies to work with community partners to keep children in the care of non-abusive parents, rather than placing children in foster care and for communities to actively engage in collaboration as a strategy to address the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child maltreatment.
In cases where domestic violence is a factor, judges should have intervention options that protect the survivor and children, are strength-based, and do not re-traumatize victims and their children. The NCJFCJ also recommends increased funding to broaden our national capacity to promote needed research into promising practices, explore and disseminate information on research-supported practices, and to support community-level efforts to address the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child maltreatment collaboratively and effectively.