Safe & Together:
Concrete Strategies for Domestic Violence in Child Protection Cases.
Working to address domestic violence in child protection cases and identify strategies for successful outcomes was the focus of a September two-day training in Topeka sponsored by KCSDV and the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. This invitation-only event brought together a combined audience of KCSDV member program advocates and administrators and child welfare workers from around Kansas for a multi-session training that also allowed participants to identify and establish community partnerships.
David Mandel, a nationally recognized expert in addressing the co-occurrence of child protection and domestic violence, engaged participants in an interactive seminar that focused on five critical building blocks of a good response to domestic violence and practical tips and tools to use when working with families. With 18 years experience working with domestic violence perpetrators and nine years working with child protection David was selected to oversee the development of a statewide network of domestic violence experts for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families.
Asserting that an appropriate child protection response to the presence of domestic violence in a home is dependent upon several factors, Mandel discussed each in detail over the two-days, offering participants an opportunity to engage with each other regarding specific case examples. He also discussed the various ways batterers and their violence harm children, including:
- Exposure to the abuse which can include: direct observation, overhearing or knowing about the abuse
- Using children as a weapon against the children’s other parent
- Undermining the other person’s parenting efforts
- Accidentally causing physical harm to children as a result of the violence towards non-offending parent
- Physical/sexual/emotional abuse or neglect perpetrated directly against the children
Mandel offered recommendations regarding ways to successfully work with families involved with child protection services, including:
- Focus on reducing the risk that batterers create for children
- Consistently address batterers during the entire case
- Only substantiate against the batterer (when possible and appropriate)
- Articulate what the batterers need to do differently
- Partner with the victims of domestic violence
- Partner with courts and other community entities