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Special Collection: Enhanced Services to Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence: Promising Practices & Lessons Learned

Children react to exposure
to violence in different ways, and many children show remarkable resilience.

(Finkelhor, Turner, Ormrod, Hamby, & Kracke, 2009)

Table of Contents:

Prepared by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence in collaboration with the Family and Youth Services Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Overview: Expanding Services to Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence | Back to top

On average between 2001 and 2005, children were residents of the households experiencing intimate partner violence in 38% of the incidents involving female victims and 21% of the incidents involving male victims (Catalano, Smith, Snyder, & Rand, 2009).

In October 2003, the United States Post Office issued a "Stop the Violence Stamp" as directed by the Stamp Out Family Violence Act of 2001, to provide the public with a direct and tangible way to contribute funding for domestic violence programs. The proceeds from the stamp sales over a two-year period were transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to carry out the purposes of the Act with a focus on enhancing services to children and youth impacted by domestic violence.

In 2005, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of HHS, released funds for the development of demonstration projects to enhance services to children and youth who have been exposed to domestic violence. Three-year grants were awarded, after a competitive process, to projects in California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia to explore innovative approaches to intervention and prevention for families in both shelter and non-shelter settings. Across all programs, project staff and partners worked to:

  • Develop and enhance assessment and intervention strategies for children and youth exposed to domestic violence and their parents;
  • Train domestic violence program staff and community partners on the effects of being exposed to violence on children and youth and intervention strategies; and
  • Develop or enhance community-based interventions specific to issues of domestic violence in order to meet the needs of children and youth impacted by such violence.
  • Each project described in the Guide that follows has contributed new knowledge and experience to helping children and youth exposed to domestic violence. This knowledge and experience has strengthened the relationship between domestic violence victim advocates and other partners in the community serving children and youth exposed to domestic violence. Further, each collaboration has reinforced the shared mission of protecting abused women and their children from violence by providing them with the interventions, tools and resources to move their lives and their futures forward in positive, productive and violence-free directions. This Guide showcases these projects, focusing on their goals, collaborative partnerships, experiences, challenges, and successes.

    • Executive Summary - Enhanced Services to Children and Youth Who Have Been Exposed to Domestic Violence: Promising Practices & Lessons Learned | PDF PDF (15 p.)
      by Anne Menard, Kenya Fairley, Jackie List Warrilow, and Nancy Durborow for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence in collaboration with the Family and Youth Services Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (November 2011)
      This Executive Summary highlights promising practices and lessons learned by the nine demonstration projects funded by the FVPSA Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through Stamp Out Family Violence Act of 2001.
      + View Summary
    • Enhanced Services to Children and Youth Who Have Been Exposed to Domestic Violence: Promising Practices & Lessons Learned | PDF PDF (72 p.)
      by Anne Menard, Kenya Fairley, Jackie List Warrilow, and Nancy Durborow for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence in collaboration with the Family and Youth Services Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (November 2011)
      This Guide showcases the nine demonstration projects funded by the FVPSA Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through Stamp Out Family Violence Act of 2001, focusing on their goals, collaborative partnerships, experiences, challenges, and successes.
      + View Summary

    Tools Developed by the Demonstration Projects | Back to top

    A study of 3,400 shelter residents in domestic violence programs across eight states found that more than three in four survivors (78 percent) reported that they had children under the age of 18, and 68 percent had minor children with them at the shelter (Lyon, Lane, & Menard, 2008).

    NOTE: All content for the materials, tools, resources, and services developed by each of the demonstration projects, as listed below, are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Michigan - Kids Exposed

    • Lessons Learned: A Report on the St. Clair County Family to Family Advocacy for Non Offending Parents Pilot Project | PDF PDF (39 p.)
      by Lakeshore Legal Aid
      This document reviews the project, initial barriers, statewide advocacy, and training leading to the implementation of a statewide protocol and best practices guide for domestic violence victim advocates and legal aid attorneys working with the child welfare system within the Team Decision Making (TDM) structure and process.
      + View Summary

    New York - Supervised Visitation: Enhancing Services for Children and Youth Who Are Affected by Domestic Violence

    • Supervised Visitation & Domestic Violence A Protocol for Services | PDF PDF (10 p.)
      by Oswego County Opportunities, Inc., the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (January 2009)
      This protocol is based on the premise that supervised visitation cases that involve domestic violence are only appropriate for center-based services, and the recommendations presume that model.
      + View Summary

    Pennsylvania - A Kid Is So Special

    • K.I.S.S. (A Kid Is So Special): Strengthening Mother-Child Bonds | PDF PDF (12 p.)
      by Beth Bitler for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2008)
      This 12-week child-focused curriculum was developed to assist adult survivors in recognizing the impact that domestic violence has on children, as well as understanding and responding appropriately to children's reactions to abuser behavior.
      + View Summary

    Virginia - The Advisory Council

    • Enhancing Services to Children and Youth in Virginia Exposed to Violence: A Report on a Demonstration Project Funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, 2006-2008 | PDF PDF (14 p.)
      by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2010)
      This report offers a project description, detailed project activities and outcomes, and resource development information. The appendices are rich with information on the needs assessment, training program, guidelines, and service enhancement strategies.
      + View Summary
    • Enhancing Services to Children and Youth in Virginia Exposed to Violence: Demonstration Site - Samaritan House Middle School Program
      by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2010)
      These materials highlight the work of one site in Virginia's "Enhancing Services to Children and Youth" demonstration project.
      + View Summary
    • Enhancing Services to Children and Youth in Virginia Exposed to Violence: Demonstration Site - Samaritan House Mentoring Program
      by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2010)
      These materials highlight the work of one site in Virginia's "Enhancing Services to Children and Youth" demonstration project.
      + View Summary
    • Enhancing Services to Children and Youth in Virginia Exposed to Violence: Demonstration Site - ACTS Turning Point Group for Teen Mothers
      by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2010)
      These materials highlight the work of one site in Virginia's "Enhancing Services to Children and Youth" demonstration project.
      + View Summary
    • Enhancing Services to Children and Youth in Virginia Exposed to Violence: Demonstration Site - ACTS Turning Point Group for the Latina Community
      by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2010)
      These materials highlight the work of one site in Virginia's "Enhancing Services to Children and Youth" demonstration project.
      + View Summary
    • Enhancing Services to Children and Youth in Virginia Exposed to Violence: Demonstration Site - Family Resource Center Trauma-informed Advocacy Services
      by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2010)
      These materials highlight the work of one site in Virginia's "Enhancing Services to Children and Youth" demonstration project.
      + View Summary

    Additional Resources Used by the Demonstration Projects | Back to top

    Studies on women in shelters suggest that their most significant child-related needs include counseling of their children, information about normal child development and parenting, and support and insight about children's behavior (Grasley, Richardson, & Harris, 2000; Henderson, Ericksen, & Ogden, 1997; Struthers, 2002).

    NOTE: All content for the materials, tools, resources, and services utilized by each of the demonstration projects, as listed below, are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    California - New Beginnings

    Second Step Curriculum: Social-Emotional Skills for Early Learning
    This recently revamped, research-based program builds critical social and school-readiness skills of young children. The revised Second Step early learning program is designed specifically for multiple-age early learning classrooms. The program is taught through 28 weekly themes, consisting of short activities to be done throughout the week. The activities build on each other to develop children's self-regulation skills and social-emotional competence.

    Colorado - The Alliance

    Short Form Parenting Stress Index (PSI)
    For parents of children age 1 month to 12 years, the PSI is a parent self-report questionnaire, designed to identify potentially dysfunctional parent-child systems and predict children's future psychosocial adjustment and then focus intervention in high stress areas. The PSI is designed to identify stressful areas in parent-child interactions, and has been recently updated with new forms which are easier to score and easier to profile.

    Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children (TSCYC), ages 3-12
    The TSCYC is a 90-item caretaker-report instrument with separate norms for males and females in three age groups: 3-4 years, 5-9 years, and 10-12 years. Caretakers rate each symptom on a 4-point scale according to how often the symptom has occurred in the previous month.

    Trauma Symptom Check List for Children (TSCC), ages 8-16
    The TSCC is a self-report measure of posttraumatic stress and related psychological symptomatology in children ages 8-16 years who have experienced traumatic events (e.g., physical or sexual abuse, major loss, natural disaster, witnessing violence). The TSCC is suitable for individual or group administration.

    Child Behavioral Check List (CBCL), ages 1.5 to 5
    The CBCL for ages 1.5 to 5 obtains parents' ratings of 100 problem items; plus descriptions of problems, disabilities, what concerns parents most about their child, & the best things about the child. The CBCL obtains parents' reports of children's expressive vocabularies & word combinations, plus risk factors for language delays.

    Child Behavioral Check List (CBCL), ages 6-18
    The CBCL for ages 6-18 obtains parents ratings of 120 problem items; plus descriptions of problems, disabilities, what concerns parents most about their child, & the best things about the child.

    Michigan - Kids Exposed

    Trauma Intervention Program for Children and Adolescents (TIPCA)
    The TIPCA is a comprehensive, research-based program that provides 8-sessions of structured, sensory interventions for children and adolescents and a component for parents of traumatized children. Researched in school & agency settings, this program has been shown to significantly reduce trauma reactions. Included in the curriculum are 2 manuals; 2 workbooks; the TLC booklets, You Are Not Alone, A Trauma is Like No Other Experience, What Parents Need to Know; assessment tools; and other supportive materials.

    Adults and Parents in Trauma: Learning to Survive: Trauma Intervention Program
    This resource contains assessment tools, checklists, cognitive reframing statements, healing benchmarks, secondary victimization, survivor plan, worry activities, survivor activities and After the Violence video.

    2011 TLC Resource Guide: With New and Revised Resources
    An 8-page listing of Tools Leading to Change as developed and offered by the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children.

    Oklahoma - Oklahoma's Collaborative Children's Services Project

    How to Implement Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
    Developed by the SAMHSA-funded National Child Traumatic Stress Network's (NCTSN) Sexual Abuse Task Force, this model was initially developed to address trauma associated with child sexual abuse and has more recently been adapted for use with children who have experienced a wide array of traumatic experiences, including multiple traumas. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is a components-based psychosocial treatment model that incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral, attachment, humanistic, empowerment, and family therapy models. TF-CBT is recognized as being one of the most effective interventions for children who have significant psychological symptoms related to trauma exposures. This TF-CBT Implementation Manual is for therapists, clinical supervisors, program administrators, and other stakeholders who are considering the use of TF-CBT for traumatized children in their communities.

    Oregon - Open Arms Project

    Looking Glass
    At Looking Glass, all efforts are focused on the singular mission to build a better future for youth and families by helping them navigate the challenges of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Looking Glass Youth and Family Services offers a range of programs and services that may be creatively combined to serve teenagers and their families. Highly qualified mental health professionals evaluate each young person's needs and recommend programs and resources to help the teen and the whole family. Services are coordinated, re-evaluated and adjusted as each young person moves toward health and wellbeing. Programs include counseling, adolescent recovery program (for substance abusing youth), crisis response, runaway and homeless services (including emergency shelter, transitional and independent living services for homeless youth, and support services for assistance with food, clothing, etc.), alternative education options and residential services.

    2011 TLC Resource Guide: With New and Revised Resources
    At the core of the Relief Nursery is the belief in focusing on, and building upon, the strength of each individual family. A wide array of support services, with research-based principles embedded throughout, are provided; always with a respect for the diversity of the families served and while recognizing the changing needs of families. From crisis response, to therapeutic classrooms, to alcohol and drug recovery support, staff work to keep children in the community safe from abuse and neglect. Through its state, national and international replication efforts Relief Nursery is a leader in child abuse prevention. Additional program details are listed below.

    • Therapeutic Early Childhood Program: Helping Children Reach Their Potential
      The Relief Nursery Therapeutic Early Childhood Program provides a unique combination of individualized classroom and home-based developmental experiences for children 0-6 years of age. All aspects of the program focus on the specific issues of children from multi-stressed families who have experienced trauma, abuse, stress, or are at-risk for such experiences.

    • Accessing Success: Drug and Alcohol Recovery Support
      Accessing Success is a recovery support program, integrated with all other Relief Nursery programs, for families with substance abuse issues. Accessing Success provides drug and alcohol intake services, counseling, anger management classes, parenting classes, peer support, childcare, transportation, and social skill activities to help parents achieve and maintain recovery.

    • Counseling Services: Helping Families Through Therapy
      The mental health counseling services provided at the Relief Nursery assist young children and their families in working with behaviors that could result in more serious problems before the child reaches elementary school. Qualified Mental Health Professionals provide comprehensive mental health services through family therapy and child therapy, as well as networking with other mental health agencies in the area.