Protecting Children and Survivors Through Domestic Violence Systems Change

Domestic violence perpetration is significantly associated with child deaths, is pervasive on the child welfare caseload and is often considered one of the most challenging issues by workers.

A shared approach between agencies and practitioners can seem out of reach. Tensions abound between child welfare and women’s sector and advocates.   

Every day workers are missing connections between substance use, mental health and domestic violence, treating each problem as its own silo rather than connecting the dots between them. 

Leaders are missing the data they need to make good decisions related to resources like training and service delivery. They struggle to evidence outcomes or plan improvements around this complex issue. 

We are missing opportunities to partner with survivors, instead, treating them like they are the problem when they are child welfare’s natural ally in child safety. 

We are failing to intervene with perpetrators as parents, mistakenly hoping that if we ignore them they will go away.

And each misstep increases the opportunity to make decisions that are:

  • Not in the best interest of child safety and well-being 
  • Increase unnecessary removals of children
  • Reinforce gender, racial and economic inequities 
  • Push families away from help
  • Unintentionally empower perpetrators 
  • Make adult survivors more vulnerable to abuse from the perpetrator and in other systems, like family courts
  • Fail to address worker safety and morale, leading to more turnover 
  • Increase agency costs and inefficiencies 


At S&TI we are committed to real systems change that involved transforming your agency and your partnerships with other players in the system. We have developed tools to help you make the changes you need to help your system become more domestic violence-informed.

Systems that become more domestic violence-informed move toward: 

  • Keeping more children in their own homes
  • Improving their partnerships with survivors and their advocates
  • Improving interventions with perpetrators, especially fathers 
  • Reducing their ability to be used by perpetrators to control the adult and child survivors
  • Moving closer to equity goals 
  • Improving staff morale, safety and performance 
  • Reducing costs associated with out-of-home placements
  • Providing better supervision and support for their staff 
  • Meeting agency key performance measures 

Download the DV-informed Continuum to learn about how systems can help and how systems can harm

Download the free self-assessment tool developed in partnership with the Improvement Service. Use it to evaluate your situation, benchmark your progress, and make a business case for change. 

Schedule a free domestic violence-informed systems-change consultation with an Institute staff member.


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