Domestic violence advocates are uniquely aware of the impact perpetrators of domestic violence have on adult and child survivors, and provide an array of services i.e. sheltering, counseling and advocacy, to mitigate that impact. Many of those services, while provided to the adult survivor, have profound benefits for the children. Advocates approach survivors, in their role as parents, from a strengths based perspective, offering validation, partnership and empowerment.
Despite their shared interest in child safety and well-being advocates and child welfare have sometimes struggled to find common ground and overcome tension regarding hot topics like confidentiality, service delivery and expectations of survivors. The Safe and Together™ model is a child-centered model that places the idea that systems should work as hard as possible to keep children safe and together with the domestic violence survivor. In number of states, joint trainings on the model have helped facilitate partnerships between advocates and child welfare. The training and technical assistance has also provided advocates with enhanced advocacy skills related to articulating the needs of child and adult survivors to systems, additional strategies for supporting survivors’ strengths and protective capacities, and for focusing on perpetrators’ choices as a context for working with survivors. Advocates can use the principles and components of the Safe and Together™ model to guide work with child welfare and other systems and in working directly with child welfare-involved clients to promote meaningful interventions with perpetrators and supports for survivors and their children.