It has been demonstrated that an effective strategy in achieving and maintaining safety for children living in households where there is adult abuse is to identify the safety needs of the vulnerable caretaker or parent and to integrate into case and/or service plans responses that address those safety needs as a primary issue. (35) Put simply, protecting mothers also provides protection to children. When an adult victim's safety needs are acknowledged and met, she is in a far better position to develop an alliance with a child welfare worker that focuses on protecting the safety interests of her children. This is true even when the battered mother has herself been abusive to the children. One study found that eight times as many battered women reported using physical discipline against their children while living with their abusive partner than when living alone or with a non-battering partner. (36)
It is critical therefore that all child welfare workers-protective, investigative, preventive, foster care, and adoptive-heighten their awareness of the connection between adult domestic violence and child abuse and neglect, and integrate strategies that address the safety-related needs of adult victims into strategies to protect the safety interests of children. While individual workers' roles and responsibilities will often vary across the spectrum of protective, investigative, and preventive functions (CPS workers, for example, are often not involved in the development of service plans), appropriate responses to adult domestic violence within the context of all job functions can significantly improve case outcomes.
In addition to incorporating the recommendations outlined in the Guiding Principles and the Employers sections into their responses to domestic violence, and being mindful of the potential need for individualized responses based on factors such as socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religious affiliation, physical and mental disabilities, immigrant status, education, employment status, urban vs. rural residency, and marital status, child welfare workers should also integrate the following recommendations specific to the child welfare system.
1.VICTIM SAFETY AND SELF-DETERMINATION
a.Private, routine screening should be conducted with each adult household member to determine if an adult in the household utilizes coercive and abusive tactics to control other household members. When domestic violence is not identified through an initial screening, ongoing assessment should be conducted throughout all phases of a case.
Domestic violence is included as a specific assessment element in the New York State Office of Children and Family Services' Risk Assessment and Services Planning Model, which was developed as a tool for child welfare workers. In