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Presentation on theme: "CHILD WELFARE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SAFETY PLANNING"— Presentation transcript:

Theresa Costello Shellie Taggart National Resource Center for Child Protective Services Webinar September 14, 2012

Safety is the primary basis for intervention throughout the life of the case Safety is the primary basis for efforts with the non-offending parent (adult victim of DV) and children Objective is to eliminate, reduce, or effectively manage impending danger threats by enhancing caregiver protective capacity Best way to create safety for children is to help the NOP and children safe together Children are the focus of the safety plan Non-offending parent is the focus of the safety plan, plus her children

Vulnerable children are safe when there are no threats of danger within the family . . . . . . or when the parents possess sufficient protective capacity to manage any threats. Children are either safe or unsafe. Threats of danger to children and the NOP are from the DV offender. Reducing or eliminating threat requires work with him and the NOP. Signs of Safety: Safety is the presence of observable acts of protection by caregivers, demonstrated over time. NOP’s behaviors reflect the context of violence in which she lives. Her action or inaction must be considered/assessed in that context. Children and their NOP may be more or less safe over time.

Services are not a proxy for safety: safety plan and case/treatment plan are related but different. Safety is created by caregivers and/or their networks of support (including CPS when needed). Safety intervention should be least intrusive plan possible. Safety plans must be dynamic and reflect changing circumstances. If one part doesn’t work, don’t throw out the whole plan—refine it.

5 Goal: SAFETY How do we get there in DV practice? Effective engagement
Plan WITH the NOP Accurate assessment of danger and risk to children Build on prior acts of protection Assess impact of prior interventions Build her support system Hold DV offender responsible and get him help Safety planning throughout the case

6 CPS Intervention Initial Assessment: Problem Identification
CPS involved because children are unsafe due to impending danger threats and diminished caregiver protective capacities. What specific harm to children has resulted from DV or is likely to result from DV in near future? What evidence do we have of this harm? How dangerous is the DV offender? How dangerous is the situation?

7 Perez Family: Harm to children
Physical: Mr. Perez pushed Fernando and knocked him down Mr. Perez squeezed Fernando’s arms in the past hard enough to bruise him Emotional: Fernando said he was scared of what might happen to his mom Need to know more about Sofia

8 Perez Family: Indicators of dangerousness
To Julia Perez: Mr. Perez drinking, combined with extreme jealousy Mr. Perez slapped, pinched and bit Mrs. Perez Violence is escalating (“the worst it’s ever been”) To children: Harm to Fernando (previous slide)

9 CPS Intervention Safety Management: Assuring Protection
Safety plans control impending danger threats and substitute for insufficient caregiver protective capacities. What have NOP and other adults done to keep children safe? How effective has this been? How could it be made more effective? How is the context of DV affecting the ability of NOP to participate in creating safety? What is the DV offender willing to do in the short term to assure safety? What is the NOP willing and able to do?

10 Perez Family: Prior Safety Planning by Mrs. Perez
Told Fernando to go into the other room and turn on the TV (he did) Told Fernando to do what his father said (he did) Told Fernando to call 911 if scared (he did) Told Fernando NOT to try to protect her (this part didn’t work completely--what could he have done instead?) “Insufficient caregiver capacity”? Is a child welfare safety plan needed? Is a DV safety plan needed?

11 Immediate, short term safety
What could Mr. Perez do? What has he done in the past? Ever stopped drinking? Ever dealt with his jealousy differently? Ever felt like hurting his partner but didn’t? How could he do more of that? Will Mr. Perez leave the home temporarily? Will he agree to Titi Jalisa staying with them? What other ideas does he have about how CPS can feel confident about safety?

12 Immediate, short term safety
Mrs. Perez: What other ideas does she have? How worried is she about Fernando and Sofia’s safety? Titi Jalisa: Is she willing to stay there? How long? Other relatives: How can they support safety for Fernando and Sofia on a day-to-day basis? (i.e. can the kids and/or their mom come to stay overnight if Mr. Perez is drinking?; will they pick kids up in the middle of the night if needed; will his brother stop him from going home, or come get him?)

13 CPS Intervention Family Assessment: What Must Change
Specific caregiver capacity behavior that must be enhanced to assure child protection/safety is the focus of the case plan and treatment. What do we need to see from the DV offender to feel confident about children’s safety? What would that look like, specifically? How will we know? What does the NOP think will help? What has she tried in the past, and with what result? Who has helped her the most? Do complicating factors (substance abuse, trauma, depression, poverty) need to be addressed?

14 Perez Family Mr. Perez: Learn new ways of dealing with jealousy/stress/control: attend Batterer Intervention (monitored by court or CPS) Learn co-parenting skills (stop undermining her parenting): parenting class, or do more of prior healthy parenting strategies Substance abuse treatment Work with CPS Mrs. Perez: Continue to work with CPS; offer her DV services; ask her to help CPS understand changes in danger/risk as plan progresses; help build support within the family and elsewhere where natural supports exist

15 CPS Intervention Case Plans: Influencing Change
Treatment reinforces enhancement of caregiver protective capacities associated with impending danger. Batterer intervention, responsible fatherhood programs, substance abuse or MH services. DV advocacy for empowerment, resources and safety. Case Plans: Measuring Progress Sufficiency of caregiver protective capacity behavior is measured—must protect against threats to child safety and assure a safe home. Focus on DV Offender changes.

16 Safety Plan --Assess safety: sufficient, feasible, sustainable?
Gather information Safety Plan --Assess safety: sufficient, feasible, sustainable? Least restrictive given circumstances? Reunify? Treatment Plan-- Assess needs and progress: reduced threat, developed capacity? Parents keep child safe without support? (close case?)

17 Six Questions/Six Categories
Nature of maltreatment: frequency and severity of DV; impact on children Circumstances of maltreatment: pattern of offender behaviors; degree of isolation; help-seeking of NOP; system responsiveness; available support/resources Child’s functioning: school, peer relationships; trauma; resiliency; opportunities for safety and healing 4. Parental discipline: differentiate between NOP and DV offender; consider DV context Overall parenting practices: bonding; routines; predictability; appropriate responses 6. Parental life management skills: differentiate between NOP and DV offender; consider DV context (coercion/control, impact on NOP choices)

18 Assessing Safety Vocabulary of assessment
Threat of Danger Signs of Safety Vulnerable Child Protective Capacities Prior acts of protection/help-seeking DV offender demonstrated desire to change “Safe child” Vocabulary of assessment (Consider context of violence/coercive control)

19 Safety (Danger) versus Risk
Safety  concerned about imminence and severe consequences due to things being out of control (“out of control” language difficult in DV/CPS collaborations—DV is a choice, and within the control of the DV offender) Risk  broad concept regarding whether something might occur if there is not intervention; risk may be low, moderate, high. the critical question is whether or not the child/NOP is/are safe

20 Vocabulary: Safe and Unsafe Child
“Vulnerable” children are safe when there are no “threats of danger” within the family or home OR when the caregivers possess sufficient “protective capacity” to manage or control any threats. Unsafe child Children are unsafe when they are “vulnerable,” there are “threats of danger” within the family or home AND the caregivers have insufficient “protective capacities” to manage or control the threats, making outside intervention necessary.

21 Vocabulary: Threats of Danger
A specific family situation or behavior, emotion, motive, perception or capacity of a family member: observable, out of control, immediate, severe consequences Assess DV offender pattern of behavior (severity, frequency), isolation of NOP and children, use of weapons, offender use of drugs of alcohol, obsessive jealousy, stalking behaviors, recent instability, depression, threats of suicide or homicide, escalation, NOP is planning to leave

22 Present and Impending Danger
Present danger means immediate, significant and clearly observable severe harm or threat of severe harm is occurring to a child in the present requiring immediate protective services response. Impending danger means a state of danger in which family behaviors, attitudes, motives, emotions and/or situations pose a threat which may not be currently active but can be anticipated to have severe effects in a child at any time

23 Vocabulary: Vulnerability
Vulnerability: degree of dependence on others for protection and care Assess vulnerability in light of specific threats in this family How frequent and severe is the violence? Who does the DV offender target for violence/abuse? How have children been used by DV offender? How has he undermined the relationship between the NOP and children? Has a child attempted to intervene? What was the response of caregivers?

24 Obvious vulnerabilities
Age 0-6 Physical, developmental disabilities or delays Poor health, physical capacity Inability to articulate danger

25 Less Obvious Vulnerabilities
Isolated from community As a specific tactic of control? Degree of isolation? Cannot anticipate or judge presence of danger Consciously or unknowingly provokes danger DV offender is the person responsible for his behavior Emotionally vulnerable Trauma, degree of resilience Impact of prior maltreatment or multiple exposures Attachment (enmeshment), fear, insecurity re parent

26 Perez Family Threat of danger posed by Mr. Perez when he assaults his wife Harsh parenting and undermining of Mrs. Perez as parent--part of pattern of control Vulnerability of children: Sofia due to age and developmental delays, BUT he treats her “like a princess” Fernando may be vulnerable due to age and worries about his mom, BUT also able to follow (for the most part) a safety plan

27 Vocabulary: Protective Capacities
Personal characteristics that indicate protective vigilance, preparation and power to protect. ASK NOP: What have you tried to protect the children and yourself when DV is occurring? What was the effect? What else have you thought about trying? ASK DV OFFENDER: Has there ever been a time when you felt like (being violent) but didn’t? What was going on then/what stopped you? How can you do more of that in the future?

28 Protective capacities/factors
Perez Family Protective capacities/factors Mrs. Perez actively safety plans with Fernando Extended family support (need specifics) Early Intervention for Sofia; soccer for Fernando Mr. Perez parented with some success when Mrs. Perez unable to do so because of post-partum depression

29 Child welfare safety plans
actions and services that will temporarily substitute for lacking parental protective capacity to control the threat of danger Child welfare safety plans

30 Domestic violence safety plans in child welfare
actions, resources and assistance from systems that will help the NOP and children be safe together Domestic violence safety plans in child welfare

31 In home safety plan Safety Plans combination Out of home safety plan

32 Child welfare safety plan must
Immediately control or manage threat of danger Be made up of components (people and services) accessible when threat will be present Describe concrete, action oriented activities and tasks assigned to identified people Not rely on parental promises to control what has been assessed as out of control

33 In-home safety plan? With threats of danger clearly identified by defined criteria it becomes easier to assess whether agency can create a plan with caregivers to control them within the child’s home Managing crises Providing social support Separating parent and child when necessary for safety Providing resources

34 Domestic violence safety plans in child welfare must
Address specific harm to children and NOP from DV Include children in age-appropriate ways Address potential danger posed by CPS intervention Build on NOP knowledge of DV offender and what will increase the threat of danger from him Include people and services that will be accessible when threat is present Describe concrete, action oriented activities and tasks agreed upon by identified people

35 Possible in-home child safety plan
Perez Family Possible in-home child safety plan Mr. Perez will use xxx positive parenting practices with Fernando (that he has used in past successfully) Titi Jalisa will stay with the family for xxx weeks (consider work schedule, etc when planning details) Mrs. Perez, Titi Jalisa and Fernando will practice what to do if Mr. Perez is drinking/becomes violent (leave and go to xxx, call Mr. Perez’ brother to come get him until he is sober, call police, etc) If Mr. Perez drinks or becomes violent, Fernando will stay in his room until his mom or Titi Jalisa tells him what to do; can also call the police again if he feels scared

36 Possible DV safety plan: all CW plan items PLUS
Perez Family Possible DV safety plan: all CW plan items PLUS Mrs. Perez may call the DV hotline to talk about personal safety, options for additional safety, or emotional support Mrs. Perez may call her (friend, sister, etc) to talk about her worries and what support she needs CW worker will provide xxx resources to Mrs. Perez (ask her what she needs) CW worker will check in with Mrs. Perez every xxx days about any changes in level of danger CW worker will stay in contact with Mr. Perez every xxx days to see if he is getting help (BI program, etc)

37 Is the plan Sufficient? Feasible? Sustainable?
Are aware, committed and reliable people involved? Is the DV offender engaged and being held responsible? Is the NOP’s safety a focus as well as children? Are safety supports from systems/providers available as often and for duration needed? Is plan dynamically monitored and adjusted to reflect changing circumstances?

38 Out of home placement/safety plan in DV situations ONLY WHEN
Children are in danger from DV offender Adult caregivers are unwilling (despite safe and supportive interventions) or unable (due to offender level of violence) to provide safety for children Children are not able to participate in keeping themselves safe An in-home safety plan is not sufficient, feasible and sustainable MUST SAFETY PLAN WITH NOP

39 Reasonable Efforts? If an in-home safety plan would be sufficient, and the agency fails to consider or implement one, then the agency has failed to provide reasonable efforts to prevent removal (or to return child home).

40 Safety Plan substituting for compromised Protective Capacity
Key Concept Threat of Danger + Vulnerable child Safety Plan substituting for compromised Protective Capacity = “safe child”

41 “CASE PLAN” §475 [42 USC 675] (“The ASFA”)
“A plan assuring that the child receives safe and proper care…” Safety Plan “and that the services are provided to the parents, child and foster parents in order to improve conditions in the parent’s home, to facilitate return of the child to his own home.” Treatment Plan Keeping track of two plans

42 For more information/resources
Theresa Costello Shellie Taggart


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