Domestic violence is an issue that affects us all. Our families, our children and our community are impacted by its violence so therefore we must all work together to address this issue.
Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another in an intimate relationship. This control is established through fear, the use of physical and emotional violence and/or other forms of abuse. Relationships involving domestic violence may differ in terms of the severity, but control is the primary goal.
What does Domestic Violence have to do with a child protection agency?
Domestic violence and child maltreatment often occur within the same family. It is estimated that over 50% of child abuse cases involve domestic violence. Universal screening and early identification are only the beginning of the solution. Intervention of any kind may increase risk and therefore the safety of all victims must be considered when designing services. Victims of domestic violence are most often mothers who are battered by their husbands, their children's fathers or their boyfriends. However, domestic violence also occurs in gay and lesbian families as well and crosses all ethnic, religious, racial and socioeconomic lines. The primary focus of interventions should be safety and stability for the child, which is often achieved by helping the non-offending parent and working with service providers and law enforcement to help, and to hold accountable, the offending parent. The DSS Domestic Violence Unit aims to integrate knowledge from the fields of domestic violence, child protection and family support.
For more information, please read The Link Between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse.
Why a Domestic Violence Unit in a child protection agency?
The DSS Domestic Violence Unit is a statewide initiative designed to enhance the Department's ability to protect children experiencing family violence. The Unit's philosophy is that the best interests of children can not be separated from the best interests of their mothers. It is the primary mandate of the DSS Domestic Violence Unit to help integrate domestic violence knowledge into child protection case practice. The DSS Domestic Violence Unit works with DSS Regional and Area office staff to strategize as to how best integrate this knowledge. This may be in the form of trainings for direct service staff and managers, as well as assisting with linkages to community services and forums. This Unit also staffs a consultation line to provide assistance on acute situations involving DSS cases. Through this consultation the DSS Domestic Violence Unit assists social workers and managers in designing safe interventions, to hopefully decrease risk and keep children with the non-abusive parent, when it is possible.
This information is provided by the Department of Children and Families.