Child Welfare Project enhances services for survivors, collaboration with the child welfare system
Child maltreatment is closely linked to adult domestic and sexual violence ? more than 30 studies illustrate a co-occurrence rate of between 30 and 70 percent. Despite these statistics, nationwide intervention strategies historically came from two distinct systems working independently of each other. This approach created many challenges, including the following:
- Children were sometimes removed from homes where a protective parent, also a victim of abuse, had been providing safety and care for the children.
- Protective mothers were afraid to seek support for their children and themselves because they feared losing custody of their children either to the state or to the perpetrator.
Sexual and domestic violence advocates nationwide recognize a need to collaborate with the child welfare system to enhance support and services for survivors and their children. In 2002, the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence began collaborating with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, division of Children and Family Services on the KCSDV Child Welfare Project.
As a result of this collaborative project, more than 500 child welfare professionals and sexual and domestic violence advocates statewide have received training on best practices related to the intersection of sexual and domestic violence and child welfare. New tools and resources have been developed, including a desk reference guide for child welfare professionals and a resource guide for children?s programming advocates working in sexual and domestic violence advocacy organizations.
The KCSDV Child Welfare Project has enhanced collaborative relationships at both the community and state level. Relationships have been strengthened between child maltreatment investigators, case managers and service providers, and sexual and domestic violence advocates. Sexual and domestic violence advocates and child welfare professionals provide guidance and evaluation for the work on this project.
Great strides have been made through this project, but there is more collaborative work to be done. Survivors experience many barriers as they try to access safety and support from many systems working independently of each other. One of the greatest barriers for survivors is shared across all systems ? perpetrators frequently use children as a means to abuse the protective parent. Perpetrators often threaten to ?take? the children, and when these threats are used in conjunction with custody and parenting time litigation, they continue to jeopardize the safety of survivors and their children. Until all systems are working to protect survivors and their children, the work of the KCSDV Child Welfare Project must continue.
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