Transcript Document

What is a Safety Organized,
Trauma Informed, Solution
Focused Approach to
Domestic Violence Cases in
Child Protection?
Sue Hubert, Domestic Violence Unit
Massachusetts Department of Children and Families
Shellie Taggart, NRCCPS Consultant
June 18, 2013
Learning Objectives
• Understand what constitutes a safety organized,
trauma informed, solution focused approach to
domestic violence (DV) cases in child welfare
• Be aware of key points in CPS cases where use of
safety organized, trauma informed, solution focused
DV practice can help lead to safety and permanency
for children and youth, and well-being of children,
youth and families
• Know the resources available to support continued
learning about these approaches and enhance
development of DV practice
Webinars in the series
• TODAY: Focus on key issues for intake,
assessment and intervention; organizational
• July 16, 2013: Focus on engagement of the
children, non-offending parent and DV
• August 20, 2013: Focus on safety planning
and case planning
All webinars 3:00 – 4:30 pm Eastern
Domestic Violence
• Domestic violence (DV) is a pattern of
coercive and violent behavior used by a
person to establish control over an intimate
• Tactics may include physical violence, sexual
violence/coercion, economic abuse,
verbal/emotional abuse, psychological
abuse/threats, using children, using systems
such as CPS/courts
Safety Organized CPS Practice
• Search as rigorously for safety as for danger/risk
– Safety can be observed and documented
• Structured, on-going assessment beyond
reported incident
• Directs/focuses work, methods, decision making
• Intervention matches nature, intensity, frequency
and duration of risk/safety threat
– Considers child vulnerability and parental capacity
• Caregiver (and other adult) behaviors,
demonstrated over time, result in safety
– Compliance/cooperation/services ≠ safety
Trauma Informed CPS System
• One in which all parties involved recognize
and respond to the varying impact of
traumatic stress on children, caregivers and
those who have contact with the system.
Programs and organizations . . . act in
collaboration, using the best available
science, to facilitate and support resiliency
and recovery.
- CTISP National Advisory Committee
Essential Elements of a
Trauma-Informed Child
Welfare System
Maximize physical and
psychological safety
for children and
Identify traumarelated needs of
children and families
Enhance child wellbeing and resilience
Enhance family wellbeing and resilience
Enhance the wellbeing and resilience
of those working in
the system
Partner with youth
and families
Partner with
agencies and
systems that interact
with children and
Chadwick TraumaInformed Systems
National Council for Behavioral Health
Solution-Focused CPS Practice
• Most parents want to care for their children and can
change behavior with support and resources
• CPS should provide respectful, individualized
• Clients should be involved in case plan and in
decisions about their families
• CPS services should be the least intrusive possible
• The PRESENT and FUTURE safety of child/youth and
family is at the heart of CPS intervention
Making the connections
• Safety organized practice IS part of
trauma informed practice
• Solution-focused practice IS part of
safety organized practice
Key Issues at Intake
• Universal screening for DV
• Information gathering to
make safe contact with the
non-offending parent (adult
victim of violence): NOP
Universal Screening for DV
• Rationale: Research shows high cooccurrence of DV and child maltreatment
• Early identification (as primary concern, or as an
underlying issue) leads to safe contact and
avoidance of CPS interventions that
increase danger/risk
• Early identification of high risk indicators
• Begin to understand specific harm or
impact on child/youth from DV
Safe Initial Contact with NOP
Rationale: Standard CPS methods to contact families
can increase risk and decrease effectiveness
CPS method
1. Phone call
2. Home visit
3. Send letter
Potential outcomes
• Offender intercepts
• Offender is present, NOP unable
to communicate safely
• CPS actions show NOP we may
cause danger
Ask for NOP help to plan initial approach with DV
offender. Explore strengths, relationship with
child/youth, parenting strategies.
Key Issues: NOP
• Private contact with NOP
• Safety planning – NOP and child
• Consider impact of intervention
on safety
• Seek understanding of how
violence/abuse affect ability &
motivation of NOP to attend to
safety, engage in services, make
• Explore protective behaviors as a
foundation for future safety
Safety organized
(throughout the life of the case)
Trauma informed work with NOP
• Ask questions to understand impact of past and current
abuse or trauma on the NOP’s choices; ability/capacity to
keep herself and her child safe; ability to connect with a
CPS worker; capacity to take in information; level of
energy to take action.
• Ask: What has happened to her? instead of What is
wrong with her?
• Assess/strengthen her system of support and safety,
including DV advocacy.
• Provide information about trauma.
• Provide information about impact of DV on children.
• Assess and eliminate/reduce barriers to safety.
Key Issues: Paradigm Shift
Many fathers who are abusive to their
partners or former partners can be
engaged if planned thoughtfully, with
safety in mind.
Support Person
Focus on Strengths
Challenge Behavior
Focus on Concerns
Anger does not equal danger
Key Issues: DV Offender
Assess level of danger/risk
Plan intervention to reduce danger/risk
Engage him as a father
Identify behaviors that support
accountability, responsibility and safety
• Explore protective behaviors as a
foundation for future safety
• Support for person w/o colluding
with behaviors
Solution focused
Safety organized
(throughout the life of the case)
Engagement and accountability
• Engage him as a father/father-figure.
• Assess efforts DV offender has made to keep child/youth
from being exposed—to plan for future safety.
• Assess/strengthen DV offender system of support and
accountability, including collaboration/coordination with
natural supports AND service providers and
• Provide information about trauma.
• Provide information about impact of DV on children.
• Assess and respond to DV offender history of
trauma/exposure to violence.
• Assess and eliminate/reduce barriers to services.
Key Issues: Child/Youth
• Elicit child/youth perspective
• Assess harm and impact over
• Age-appropriate safety planning
• Strengthen bond with safe adults
• Provide opportunities for healing
and success—develop resiliency
• Refer for trauma services when
Trauma informed
Safety organized
(throughout the life of the case)
Key Issues: Child/Youth
•Assess specific impact of exposure to DV on
child/youth—differential impact factors include:
– Frequency; severity; proximity; age and age at
first exposure; multiple forms of violence; how
they understand the abuse/violence
Moderating factors include:
– Bond with consistent adult(s); community assets;
opportunities for success and healing; racial and
ethnic pride
•Assess needs in context of stage of development
Some trauma symptoms by age
6 - 12
13 - 21
• Chronic feeding or
sleeping difficulties
• Inconsolable
• Avoidance of
• Heightened startle
• Inability to
• Excessive hitting,
biting, aggression
• Very withdrawn
• Regression in
• Emotional swings
• Learning problems
• Specific anxieties
and fears
• Attention seeking
• Reversion to
younger behaviors
• Difficulty imagining
or planning for the
• Over- or underestimating danger
• Inappropriate
• Reckless or selfdestructive
What workers can do
• Support parents in
• Offer reassurance that you
keeping their children
and the parent are working
close to them.
together to keep the family
• Provide an environment
in which children and
• Name the child’s or teen’s
teens can talk about
feelings and encourage the
their concerns.
child/teen to find ways to
• Help the child/teen
express them through
anticipate what will
language, play, or drawing.
• Expect to need to do these
• Give choices.
over and over again. It is
• Provide reassurance
normal for children to need
when the child needs it.
repeated reassurance.
Creating Trauma-Informed Service Tipsheet Series, National Center on Domestic Violence,
Trauma and Mental Health
Solution-focused Assessment
• Look for exceptions to the concerns: Was there a
time when DV wasn’t occurring, or wasn’t as
bad? What was different then? How can we build
that in the future?
• Understand each parent’s perspective on the
CPS concern: Ask: How do you think your child
would describe what happens at home? What do
you think s/he was feeling, or worried about,
when _____ happened?
Solution-focused Assessment
• Understand how each parent sees his/her
own strength/abilities: Within the context of
abuse (and/or poverty, unemployment, life
stressors) how does she manage to get her
child off to school each day? How does he
manage to stay sober?
Solution-focused Assessment
• Elicit or help develop each parent’s vision for
the future: Ask: When CPS no longer needs to be
involved, what will have changed in the family?
What will people be doing more of, and less of?
How will YOU be different?
• Scale motivation/willingness/ability: Ask: On a
scale from 1 – 10, how confident are you that
this safety plan can work? How motivated are
you to complete the intake at the BI program?
How could you move that number up? How can
we help?
Documentation of DV
• What makes this a child protection issue (nexus
of caregiver behavior and impact on child)?
• Behaviorally specific documentation more
accurate accounts of risks and acts of protection
• Identify who is responsible for harm to
child/youth (may be different than who is legally
responsible for their safety)
• Document ALL tactics of DV offender
• Document ALL acts of protection, by NOP, DV
offender and other adults
• Document changes in caregiver behaviors
Organizational Capacity
• Collect and analyze DV data—understand cooccurrence and related issues
• Assess/respond to secondary traumatic stress
of staff—compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma,
and burnout—that affects their ability and
willingness to help families
• Create a supportive environment in which staff
can talk openly about fears (for personal
safety, of making things worse) or doubts
about their DV skills
Organizational Capacity
• Provide supervision, DV practice coaching
and consultation with DV advocates
• Train staff to use critical thinking skills to
promote accurate DV assessments
• Help staff develop skills for working with
DV offenders
• Develop DV practice standards/protocols
Collaborative Capacity
• Collaboratively map responses of systems, and
problem-solve issues that impact effectiveness
– Confidentiality and the ability to share
– Finding ways to review practice between systems
• Review/expand DV service array/capacity for all
family members (DV advocacy, immigration attorneys, BI
programs, responsible fatherhood programs, visitation
centers, home visiting programs, sexual assault services,
healthy relationship programming, etc)
• Train staff across multiple systems for identification
of high risk behaviors, impact of trauma, and
consistency of approach
practice/princi organized
Partner with
Active and
safety planning
risk/impact on
Engage AND
accountable DV
Collaborate with
other systems
Collaborate with
DV partners
Additional Resources
• Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project
• National Center on Domestic Violence,
Trauma & Mental Health
• Futures Without Violence
• National Resource Center for Domestic
Additional Resources
• National Online Resource Center on Violence
Against Women: Special Collections
• Culturally specific DV institutes AND
State examples of DV practices
all available at