KCSDV Project Highlight: Child and Youth Project
Children are a central part of many survivors' lives and an integral part of their safety and decision-making processes. KCSDV and the advocacy programs providing direct assistance to survivors of sexual and domestic violence and their children in Kansas have long recognized the importance of children's issues in the face of sexual and domestic violence.
KCSDV's Child and Youth Project consists of several components that work across multiple systems to develop and strengthen practices that enhance the safety and security of survivors and their children and hold perpetrators accountable for their abuse and violence. Domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy services, child protective services, custody and child protection courts, in-home visitation providers, early childhood education, healthy fatherhood initiatives, and supervised child exchange and visitation services are a few of the many systems that this project works with collaboratively to improve responses to survivors and their children.
The following are selected highlights of the current work by KCSDV's Child and Youth Project.
Child maltreatment is closely linked to adult sexual and domestic violence - more than 30 studies illustrate a co-occurrence rate of between 30 and 70 percent.1 KCSDV and the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services division of Children and Family Services (SRS CFS) began partnering in 2002 to address the issue of the overlap between child maltreatment and adult sexual and domestic violence.
With the assistance of Praxis International, KCSDV and SRS CFS conducted a state-level Safety and Accountability Assessment in 2002 of Kansas' child protection system. This assessment highlighted areas that needed attention on both sides of the issue - child welfare and victim services. Recommendations from this assessment included resource development, training, and technical assistance for child welfare professionals on best practices that enhance the safety and well-being of protective parents and their children and that hold perpetrators accountable; and cross-training and technical assistance for domestic violence and sexual assault advocates on child welfare-related issues, collaboration, and advocacy within the child welfare system. These assessment recommendations continue to be followed and implemented by KCSDV through its Child and Youth Project.
Recent publications created as a part of this project include the Domestic Violence Manual for Child Welfare Professionals. This desk reference guide was created for child protective service investigators and child welfare case management providers to use when working with families experiencing sexual or domestic violence. Over 400 guides have been distributed statewide.
In 2010, KCSDV's Child and Youth Project trained 478 SRS CFS social workers and child welfare case management provider staff and 423 domestic violence and sexual assault advocates.
Federal funding and contract support from SRS has allowed for staffing with both KCSDV and SRS to work jointly on the issues and this project. Immediately before publication of this newsletter, KCSDV was informed that SRS will no longer be providing this contract support. KCSDV is committed to continuing its work and sustaining efforts that improve the child welfare system's response to survivors of sexual and domestic violence and their children.
Survivors often seek advocacy services to lessen the impact of sexual and domestic violence on their children. KCSDV's Child and Youth Project works with domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy programs to develop and enhance advocacy services that focuses on strengthening families' protective factors and resilience; joining with protective parents in their efforts to rebuild relationships and bonds with their children that have been undermined by the perpetrator; supporting adult survivors' roles as parents; and engaging children in safe, age-appropriate activities that enhance resiliency to the impacts of violence and abuse in the home.
Resource development, training, and technical assistance are critical components of this project. Recent publications on this project include the guide, Working with Survivors of Domestic Violence and Their Children: A Resource Guide for Domestic Violence Advocacy Programs in Kansas. This guide provides domestic violence advocates with information and tools necessary to provide parent-child advocacy services. Four training events were held in each region of the state and 45 advocates were trained on the use of this guide. Over 90 guides have been distributed to advocates statewide.
Child Exchange and Supervised Visitation
Child exchange and visitation centers are an integral part of safety for many survivors' and their children. KCSDV serves on the Governor's and Attorney General's Committee on Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Centers and partners to develop and implement target sites for the Kansas Safe Havens project. In 2010, KCSDV's Child and Youth Project provided training to 53 child exchange and visitation center staff on best practices when serving families experiencing sexual and domestic violence.
MEET THE TEAM
Kathy Wood is the KCSDV Child and Youth Project Team Leader. Kathy has almost ten years of experience in the sexual and domestic violence field. Prior to joining KCSDV, Kathy provided direct services to survivors and their children as a parent-child advocate and has held other advocacy positions at a domestic violence and sexual assault program. She holds a Master of Social Work from Washburn University.
Sarah Strick is the KCSDV Children's Services Coordinator. Sarah has over ten years of experience working in child and youth-related professions. She holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Kansas.
Joan Proctor is the KCSDV Child Welfare Project Coordinator. Joan has over 25 years of experience as a social worker in various positions at social service agencies and most recently worked as an advocate for a domestic violence and sexual assault program. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Washburn University.
Serena Wecker is the Domestic Violence Child Welfare Specialist for SRS Children and Family Services and the collaborative partner for the child welfare work of KCSDV?s Child and Youth Project. Serena has eight years of experience as a licensed social worker in the child welfare field and previously worked for KCSDV. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Kansas.