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Florida co-located advocates, Florida DCF and Safe and Together model combine to reduce removal of children from domestic violence survivors in half

David Mandel & Associates has been collaborating with both the Florida Coalition for Domestic Violence (FCADV) and the Florida Department of Children and Families for the past seven years. In the last few years, much of this work has focused on supporting FCADV funded co-located domestic violence advocates as part of their CPI Project.   These advocates work closely with local DCF staff to provide expert consultation and assistance on domestic violence cases. David Mandel & Associates role in supporting these collaborations involves training co-located advocates, the local DCF staff, Children’s Legal Services and others in the Safe and Together model.  The training is supported with technical assistance and follow-up support and coaching for advocates and CPS staff.

Recently the CPI/Safe and Together project site in Northwest Florida reported strong results from this approach. From January 2012 through June 2012, domestic violence related removals represented 20.6% of removals in Bay and Gulf Counties. This was the first six months of the project when co-located advocates were hired and the staff was receiving Safe and Together Model training. During the next six months, from June 2012 to December 2012, the removal rate dropped to 13.6%.  For the most recent six month period, January 2013 to June 2013, the removal rate dropped even more to 9.1%.

Bay & Gulf Counties Corrected

 

From July 2011 to June 2012 (which includes the benchmark period of Jan to June 2012), there were 172 verified domestic violence specific maltreatments (Family Violence Threatens Child or FVTC).  11 children in those cases had repeat maltreatments, which mean there were two separate verified reports for FVTC. These children represents five families/five reports of repeat maltreatment.  From July 2012 to June 2013, there were 274 verified maltreatments of FVTC. This represents 6 children from four families/four reports of repeat maltreatments.

Gulf and Bay Repeat Maltreatments 2012-2013

While this data is only correlative and data collection needs to continue, the increase in verified domestic violence maltreatments (by almost 60%) combined with a serious decrease in removals (over 50%) and a stable raw number of repeat maltreatments is exactly the kind of results we expect to come from improved child welfare practice and community collaboration in domestic violence cases where children are involved.

Local project staff believe these changes  are  a direct result of this project including the staffing of co-located advocates, implementation of the Safe and Together Model, and enhanced system collaboration between partners such as: FCADV, DCF, the Salvation Army Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Program, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, and the State Attorney’s Office.

This data tracks similar data supplied by the Florida Department of Children and Families for the period when the Safe and Together model was implemented in the Jacksonville area.  While not a formal CPI site, this training involved DCF staff, local domestic violence advocacy center staff, Children’s Legal Services and community partners.  Over almost a three year period similar efforts in Florida DCF Circuit 4 produced an approximately 70% drop of neglect filings in domestic violence cases and an approximately 50% reduction in removals of children in domestic violence cases.

Circuit 4 Domestic Violence Judicial Action/Out of Home Placement: October 2007-July 2010

 Jacksonville Data Chart

David Mandel & Associates has provided general training in the  Safe and Together model for the FCADV led and coordinated CPI sites over the last seven years, and provided intensive training and technical assistance for Miami and  Immokalee,  sites that focus efforts on serving traditionally underserved Latina and Haitian migrant farmworker families. David Mandel & Associates has been providing training and support for co-located advocates projects similar to Florida including effort in New York State, New Jersey and Oregon.

More information about the CPI project

Project FCADV’s successful CPI Project includes ten communities in Florida, which are engaged in partnerships that enhance survivor safety and perpetrator accountability among families experiencing domestic violence who are involved in the child welfare system. Each project staffs co-located Certified Domestic Violence Center advocates within CPI Units that provide expert consultation and assistance on domestic violence cases. Collectively, the ten projects were able to create and utilize a holistic seamless system of wrap around services which allowed 4,166 children, whose families were involved in the child welfare system as a result of domestic violence, to remain in the home with the non-offending parent. This effort significantly reduced the need for foster care services and any costs that normally would be associated with the placement process.

Successes from specific communities include, but are not limited to, providing culturally and linguistically specific outreach and services to Haitian and Latina survivors of domestic violence, significantly reducing the number of children removed from the non-offending parent in domestic violence cases, and conducting court-ordered “one parent removals” and Chapter 39 Injunctions in order to increase the safety of survivors and their children from those who perpetrate violence. The CPI Project utilizes a comprehensive and holistic approach that focuses on keeping the child safe and in the care of the non-offending parent. This cutting edge project includes partnerships between the Certified Domestic Violence Center, Child Protective Investigation Units, Community-based Care Agencies, Probation/Parole, Batterer Intervention Programs, State Attorney’s Offices and Children’s Legal Services. Instead of mandating services for both the offending and non-offending parent, the program focuses on holding the abuser solely responsible for the abuse to the family.

For more information about the CPI project, contact Brandy Carlson at carlson_brandy@fcadv.org.

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