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September/October 2016Vol. 17, No. 7Enhancing Response of Domestic Violence Programs

Futures Without Violence, the Family and Youth Services Bureau's Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence collaborated to publish a new resource that shares guidelines and suggestions for improving services to children who have been exposed to domestic violence. The paper explores how providing integrated interventions to the entire family in domestic violence situations—as opposed to separate interventions for children and their protective caregivers—can produce better outcomes for children, protective caregivers, and the family as a whole.

The paper begins by addressing some basic needs of children to help protect them from the effects of violence in the home, such as adults who will listen to, believe in, and shelter them; a sense of routine and normalcy; and learning that domestic violence is wrong and that there are nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts. There is also discussion about the importance of recognizing the resilience and potential of all members in a family affected by domestic violence, as well as the importance of including the voices and perspectives of domestic violence survivors when developing programs.

The resource offers several key considerations to help guide domestic violence programs' work with children, including the following:

  • Recognize children as more than just "secondary" victims—they have also experienced trauma, and their needs and rights must be considered along with that of their parents.
  • Involve children, youth, and parents in program design.
  • Recognize cultural relevance as an essential characteristic of successful programming.
  • Ensure that programming is developmentally appropriate.
  • Focus on enhancing well-being in addition to safety.

Building off of these considerations, the paper offers three levels of strategies to help guide program development: Getting Started, Next Steps in Program Development, and Continuing to Enhance Your Program. Each of these strategies include specific details regarding overall approach, programming, staffing, training, partnerships, and evaluation/research.

Access Building Promising Futures: Guidelines for Enhancing Response of Domestic Violence Programs to Children and Youth, by Eleanor Lyon, Julia Perilla, and Anne Menard, at