Safe and Together model helps Ohio use Alternative Response to better address Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy has produced a report on the efforts of the Ohio IPV Collaborative, which “seeks to reduce the entry of children experiencing violence in their homes into foster care by forging community partnerships to develop a collaborative and holistic response to intimate partner violence.”  These efforts rested heavily on Safe and Together training and technical assistance from David Mandel & Associates.  The full report is available here.

The report summarizes the efforts, recommendations and impact of the Intimate Partner Violence Pilot in four Ohio counties implementing Alternative Response in child welfare cases. Alternative Response, also known as Differential Response or Family Assessment, is an approach towards child safety and well being that is based on close collaboration with families.   Domestic violence (or Intimate Partner Violence) poses some unique challenges for the implementation of Alternative Response as a child welfare strategy.  For example, child welfare agencies struggle whether to place domestic violence cases within the Traditional Investigations track or the Alternative Response Track.   Interviewing partners together, which is encouraged with Alternative Response, can hinder the disclosure of domestic violence.  Severe domestic violence histories may exist in cases that are presenting as substance abuse or mental health related.

Ohio contracted with David Mandel & Associates LLC to provide intensive training and technical assistance over the course of approximately six months to four Ohio counties. This package included 8 days of training for Alternative Response social work staff and supervisors; multi-day training for community partners including advocates, law enforcement, mental health and substance abuse providers and others; a leadership retreat and on/off site technical assistance and on-site coaching.  Below is a sample is some of the feedback on the package captured in the report:

  • “During the final retreat, workers and supervisors indicated that training and technical assistance in Safe and Together had resulted in enhanced IPV competencies among workers, including interviewing skills, assessing patterns of coercive control, and documenting those patterns/behaviors and their impacts on the whole family.”
  • “Workers agreed that the training built concrete strategies and skills for working with children, survivors and perpetrators, not just an enhanced knowledge of domestic violence terminology and theory.”
  • “(Domestic violence) Advocates indicated that they had gained a better understanding of CPS and increased confidence about referrals made to CPS.  Advocates also noted that they were better equipped to talk with survivors about CPS and ease survivors’ anxieties about the involvement of CPS, creating a smoother transition during referrals.”
  • “(Domestic violence) Advocates noted that, as a result of the training, they are focusing more on the effects of the trauma on the child, rather than just the survivor, which helps with conversations with CPS and assists in making referrals more effective.”
  • “Local DV advocates noted that survivors had indicated a higher comfort level with speaking to CPS and felt that CPS did not blame them for the batterer’s actions.  Advocates also noted that survivors felt that CPS was more willing to work with them regarding child safety, regardless of their decision to stay or leave.”
  • “As the project progressed, local DV Advocates and CPS workers realized how much their work complements one another’s and how each could be an asset to the other. “

To learn more about the Ohio IPV Collaborative, click here.

Also on April 21st 2011 at 3 pm EDT the American Humane Association’s Differential Response Webinar Series will highlight the integration of the Safe and Together model into Ohio’s Alternative Response efforts.  To learn more about this particular session entitled “A Family Intact: An Alternative Response to Domestic Violence” and the entire AHA Differential Response Webinar Series click here.

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