Assessing for domestic violence is important for worker safety

by David Mandel

Assaults against child welfare workers are generally rare but I recently came in contact with a case where the worker was assaulted by client during a visit.  For agencies  where workers are going into the home for any reason—child welfare, parent aide, in-home family support or other services—there is an unnecessary increase in the danger for case workers when we do not universally screen for domestic violence or fail to integrate existing information about coercive control, threats or acts of violence into our safety assessment.   Even when information about coercive control and violence is available, we may be blind to connecting the dots regarding coercive control and violence because it is a “mental health” or a “physical abuse” case.

The “take away” message: Universal, thorough screening for coercive control and actions taken to harm the children can help identify safety issues for workers going into homes.

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