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April 2023Vol. 24, No. 3Prevention Through a Domestic Violence Lens, A Message From the Associate Commissioner

Coauthored by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg; the Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women; and the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families Family and Youth Services Bureau

We can achieve better outcomes for children, youth, adults, and families with intentional investments in prevention programs. More so, we can improve outcomes by increasing protective factors through the provision of multidisciplinary services at the individual, interpersonal, community, and societal levels.

Research affirms that there are five protective factors that help to reduce the effects of domestic violence on adult and child survivors, support their personal growth and development, and build a family and community environment that promotes well-being. For individuals and families experiencing domestic violence, increasing these protective factors is critically important:

  1. Safer and more stable conditions
  2. Social, cultural, and spiritual connections
  3. Resilience and a growth mindset
  4. Nurturing parent-child interactions
  5. Social and emotional abilities

In the past 2 years, we have made tremendous progress on the implementation of the Family First Prevention and Services Act. In fact, we have approved Family First prevention plans in 40 jurisdictions.

Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness for survivors and their children. Among families currently experiencing homelessness, more than 80 percent had previously experienced domestic violence. According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in 2008, 28 percent of U.S. families were homeless because of domestic violence and 39 percent of U.S. cities cited domestic violence as the primary cause of homelessness.

The County of Cuyahoga, OH, encompassing the greater Cleveland area, launched the nation’s first county-level Pay for Success (PFS) project in partnership with FrontLine Service, a comprehensive continuum of care service provider for homeless persons in Ohio. The Partnering for Family Success Program, the first PFS project in the combined areas of homelessness and child welfare, delivered intensive 12–15 month treatment to 135 families over 5 years to reduce the length of stay in out-of-home care placement for children whose families were homeless.

As a result of this integrated collaboration model:

  • 118 families were stably housed.
  • 46 caregivers participated in substance use treatment.
  • 69 caregivers took advantage of mental health treatment.
  • 69 percent of African American children who were part of the treatment group and who exited care reunified with their families, versus 55 percent of African American children who received conventional County Division of Children and Family Services care and who exited care to reunify with family.

Coordinated community responses are crucial to keeping survivors and their children from unnecessary and harmful involvement with the child welfare system. For example, in Washington state, partnerships between community-based home visiting programs and domestic violence advocates help expectant and parenting survivors access tailored resources and trauma-informed, culturally meaningful advocacy.

Together, we will explore domestic violence and child welfare prevention models that the Children’s Bureau can use to create lasting impact and improved outcomes for adults, children, and youth. We celebrate those who are innovating their prevention and intervention services and will create space for them to share with their peers the partners, practices, and policies that have led to their successes.