David Mandel & Associates LLC and Connecticut’s Children’s Trust Fund: Together Improving the Capacity of Home Visitors to Respond to Domestic Violence and Safely Engage Fathers

Since 2011, David Mandel & Associates LLC and Connecticut’s Children’s Trust Fund, have partnered to improve the capacity of Connecticut’s Home Visitors to identify indicators of domestic violence, support the safety of domestic violence survivors and their children, and safely and effectively engage fathers to support the healthiest possible relationship with their children.    Using the Safe and Together and Responsible Fatherhood Initiative models, the trainings have focused on both traditional home visitors who worked primarily with mothers, and Connecticut’s growing group of male home visitors who are dedicated to working with fathers. The trainings have targeted frontline home visitors as well as offering specialized sessions for clinical supervisors.

These multi day training series has included but not been limited to the following topics:

  • Working with families around complex issues including domestic violence
  • Safely engaging fathers who are abusive
  • Assessing and managing risk related to working with fathers
  • Engagement and retention strategies for working with fathers
  • Fathers, perinatal involvement and maternal and child health
  • Using Responsible Fatherhood Initiative concepts to support the safety and well being of mothers and children

The trainings have been built on the awareness that home visitors have a unique in-home role working with families to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families. In this context, skills related to supporting safe, positive father engagement and addressing domestic violence are critical. These trainings have helped the Connecticut home visitors screen for and respond effectively to the presence of domestic violence and provide an overall balanced approach to healthy father involvement in families.  The training has the goal of supporting effective home visiting practice in the areas of domestic violence and father involvement in a manner consistent with a commitment to the safety and well being of mothers and children, high parenting standards for fathers and the recognition of the important role fathers play in the lives of their children.

The trainings have led to very rich discussions of the risks and rewards in engaging fathers safely.   The spectrum of the conversation has run from how to involve non-abusive, supportive fathers in conversations about family planning to positive involvement of fathers who were incarcerated.  We’ve also discussed managing safety, empowering domestic violence survivors in households where the abuser is still residing in the home and strategies for talking to men about the implications of their abuse for their children.  These discussions have been paired with value clarification exercises and activities to teach specific skills such as initial engagement of fathers and talking to survivors about their abusive partner.

The trainings and technical assistance have been very well received and will be continuing in 2013.   To read more about David Mandel & Associates trainings with home visitors click here.  For more information about the work of the Connecticut Children’s Trust Fund click here.

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