by David Mandel, MA, LPC
At our 2013 New Orleans National Safe and Together ™ model Symposium, David Mandel & Associates introduced a continuum of practice framework to describe the progress from a “domestic violence destructive child welfare system” to a “domestic violence proficient child welfare system”. Inspired by earlier work on cultural competent (Terry Cross et al. 1989) and trauma informed systems (Hodas,2006), the continuum applies the Safe and Together model to the challenge of helping child welfare systems and their communities envision meaningful, systemic change that focuses on child safety and well being through partnerships with adult domestic violence survivors and interventions with perpetrators.
The framework identifies six systemic stages for child welfare systems related to domestic violence. The purpose of the framework is to provide a method of self-evaluation and a road map for change for child welfare and their partners. The six stages are:
The following are a brief description of each:
These categories are intended to describe a child welfare systems response to domestic violence. It doesn’t just apply to state and county child welfare agencies. It also applies to community providers who provide services to families involved with child welfare, the courts and related professionals such Guardians ad Litem and even law enforcement. The framework is multi-dimensional in that it addresses policy and practice, leadership and frontline social work practice, service delivery and cross system collaboration. It is integrative in that it addresses the the intersectionality of domestic violence with substance abuse, mental health, poverty, housing insecurity, racism, the marginalization of fathers in our systems and other issues. Agencies and communities may fit into more than one category depending on how far along they are in their process of becoming a domestic violence informed child welfare system. For example a system that is in pre-competence or even competence is likely to still have some aspects of their practice, policy and services fall somewhere in the destructiveness to blindness range. The Safe and Together model is designed to help child welfare agencies and communities , wherever they are on the continuum, move through the stages until till they reach proficiency. Each category in the continuum is associated with a continuum of implementation of the Safe and Together model principles and critical components, and specific system characteristics.
Future blog posts will further explore the overall concept of a domestic violence child welfare system and the individual continuum categories more in-depth.