CHANGE # 05-2008
Every child and adult in the United States has the right to live in a safe, nurturing home. Child maltreatment and adult domestic violence often occur together and it is important to recognize this and to develop a community response insisting that violence within families must stop. As the statutory agency responsible for child protection, the primary concern of the North Carolina Division of Social Services and local county Departments of Social Services is the safety, permanence and well being of children. The primary focus of intervening in domestic violence cases is the ongoing assessment of the risk posed to children by the presence of domestic violence. The challenge in providing child protective services in domestic violence situations is to keep the children safe without penalizing the non-offending parent/adult victim and without escalating the violent behavior of the alleged perpetrator of domestic violence.
Child protective services (CPS) in domestic violence related cases continue to be legally mandated, non-voluntary services for families that encompass specialized services for maltreated children (abused, neglected, and/or dependent) and those who are at imminent risk of harm due to the actions of, or lack of protection by, the child’s parent or caretaker. CPS services shall be provided with parent/caretaker cooperation and consent or, in the event conditions pose serious issues for the child's safety, through the agency's petition to the Court. The local Department's foremost responsibility is to protect the child and to assure a safe environment.
System of Care principles help us see that CPS services should be provided using a family-centered practice model of service. Family-centered practice focuses on the family with full knowledge and appreciation for its dynamics. The social worker goes to the family's home and community to coordinate services. Social workers weave together a comprehensive service delivery system that involves the family's resources, community resources, and public resources. Services reflect the needs of the family, from the tangible to the intangible. The family-centered social worker values family resources, respects diversity among families, supports parental efforts to care for their children, and approaches crises as opportunities for change.
The foundation of this approach is based on a number of values and beliefs. Primary among them is the belief that all families have strengths and can change. These strengths are what ultimately resolve issues of concern. Strengths are discovered through listening, noticing, and paying attention to people. When their abilities are recognized and encouraged, people gain a sense of hope. They are more inclined to listen to others. While advice can seem disrespectful, listening and suggesting options provide respect and choices. Choices empower people.
System of Care and family-centered practice are an especially “good fit” for working with families experiencing domestic violence related child maltreatment. In family-centered practice the safety of the child is the first concern. Family-centered practice allows the social worker to achieve child safety while respecting the family as the fundamental resource for nurturing the child. The social worker is able to support the parents in their efforts to care for their children. Family-centered practice enables the social worker to assess issues of child safety and risk of future harm as well as the family’s strengths and needs by partnering with both caretakers and their supports in accessing services designed to meet their children’s need for safety, permanence and well being. Family-centered practice recognizes that non-offending parents/adult victims of violence are often best positioned to identify and explain their experiences, recognize heightened levels of danger and progression of abuse, describe the impact of domestic violence, and help identify services and support that seem best suited for their circumstances. It respectfully engages the perpetrator of domestic violence in a holistic, structured assessment process that holds him or her accountable for the violence and responsible for stopping it. Family-centered practice makes it possible to enlist the perpetrator of domestic violence, his or her family, community members and institutions in holding him or her accountable for the violence and ensuring the child’s safety.
This policy contains specific information and protocol that addresses the intersection of child safety, permanence and well being and domestic violence. Its framework consists of 6 principles developed through the Child Well Being and Domestic Violence Task Force:
The goals of child protective services intervention in cases involving domestic violence are:
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.