Changing the Child Welfare System Response to Domestic Violence – Overview of a Successful Pilot

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90 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 19, 2022

Gloria Saiz
Gloria Saiz, LMFT
Clinical Program Director
Children’s Home Society
Carol Wick
Carol Wick, MS
President & Chief Executive Officer
Sharity Inc.

Traditional child welfare approaches to domestic violence place a heavy emphasis on the victim’s actions to protect themselves and their child from the abuser. Many case managers view the act of hiding victims in shelters and then separating them from abusers as a successful resolution to the violence. This approach does not work for many reasons. Relying solely on the victim to stop the violence at best results in the victim being labeled as having a “lack of protective capacity.” At worse, well-meaning case managers increase the danger by forcing a separation without the appropriate safety plan and resources to keep the survivor safe. For decades, this view that separation is the only solution has forced thousands of women to choose between extreme danger, homelessness, or staying with their abuser for lack of other options. Sadly, the result is that they all too frequently lose their children.

This session provides an overview of a six-month pilot project conducted to determine if the use of evidenced-based domestic violence screening tools and assessments at intake could alter the way that child welfare staff addressed domestic violence. The results were transformative and provide simple low-cost solutions that can be implemented to create systemic change that protects both children and survivors.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Evaluate the current system of identification and response to domestic violence in the context of previous attempts to address the issue.
  • Describe evidenced-based screenings and assessments that can be used to identify ongoing domestic violence in child welfare cases.
  • Recognize how the lack of identification results in poor outcomes and increased danger.
  • Review new implementation models that can be utilized to address highly lethal DV situations.

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