Child welfare agencies must be “domestic violence informed” in order to accomplish their core mission of addressing child safety, permanency and well-being. Why? Because domestic violence can be involved in almost any type of child welfare case from the physical abuse to neglect related to parental substance abuse to delinquency. While we often focus primarily on the physical and emotional danger resulting from incidents of violence, the reality is that domestic violence perpetrators hurt children in myriad ways. Whether it is through their choice to expose children to their violence against another parent, through direct physical maltreatment, or by using a child as a weapon against the other parent, domestic violence perpetrators create safety and risk concerns for children. A domestic violence perpetrator can harm children by interfering with another parent’s substance abuse recovery or sabotaging a child’s mental health treatment. At the extreme of the spectrum, domestic violence perpetrators’ patterns of coercive control are frequently present in cases that end in a critical incident or child fatality. While some children appear to be resilient and show no symptoms, many children who are exposed to a parent’s battering behavior display externalizing and internalizing behaviors including aggression, anxiety, depression, PTSD, educational and social problems and long term adjustment issues.
The Safe and Together™ model provides a concrete framework for advancing practice, improving coordination and collaboration with community partners and reviewing and updating policy. As a child-centered model, it is consistent with the mission of child welfare agencies and provides child welfare workers with an enhanced capacity to practice in cases that prove to be challenging, frustrating and at times dangerous. Skills such as interviewing, case planning, assessing, safety planning and documenting are critical to child welfare practice; the Safe and Together model supports meaningful ways to both better understand domestic violence as it relates to children and improve these skills to support the safety and wellbeing of children.
The following are list of some of our training and consultation packages, followed by an in-depth description of some of our key offerings. To learn more about how these packages could be adapted to your needs, contact us.
A Safe and Together™ technical assistance and training package can include:
- Multi-day training for investigations and on-going case workers on the Safe and Together model. Training topics include focusing on the domestic violence perpetrators’ behavior patterns to better assess adverse impact; assessing the domestic survivors’ protective capacity; interviewing domestic violence perpetrators, survivors and children; developing a domestic violence case plan with measureable goals.
- Training for child welfare supervisors and managers on strategies for supervising domestic violence cases and case practice.
- Training on domestic violence consultation or peer review skills.
- Training for child welfare legal staff, Guardians ad Litem, court personnel and/or judges.
- Training for differential response workers, supervisors and administrators.
- Enhanced advocacy training for domestic violence advocates with child welfare-involved clients.
- Training for home visitor agencies and personnel, including Nurturing Family Networks, Birth to Three providers, Family Preservation providers, parent aides, and others.
- Training on the Safe and Together™ model for community child welfare service providers including in home services, prevention workers and child guidance clinics, therapeutic and other providers for children.
- Training for child welfare’s collaborative partners including domestic violence victim advocate agencies, law enforcement, fatherhood programs and batterer intervention programs.
- Community wide trainings to introduce the Safe and Together™ model.
- Facilitation of community meetings on the intersection of domestic violence and child maltreatment.
- Technical assistance on policy and practice improvements.
- Case specific case consultation.
- Safe and Together™ web resources, webinar and online learning.
- Follow up surveys to assess implementation and impact.
The Safe and Together training and technical assistance is primarily provided through site visits supported with teleconferences. The trainings are focused on the specific needs of the target population and are skills based.
Examples of Safe and Together Training and Consultation Packages
Overview of Safe and Together Training/ Community Meeting (1 day)
In order to develop understanding and support within agencies and within communities for the implementation of the Safe and Together model, David Mandel & Associates provides day long community meetings to introduce the model. The overview includes a 1) presentation on the assumptions, principles and critical components of the model and 2) an introductory exploration of concepts and skills associated with successfully intervening with domestic violence perpetrators and partnering with domestic violence survivors around the safety and well being of children.
Target Audience: Key managers, administrators and supervisors from child welfare are encouraged to attend along with various community partners to these meetings. These partners may include domestic violence program advocates/managers/trainers, batterer intervention specialists, mental health providers/managers who primarily work with trauma survivors or children who have experienced trauma issues, family preservation providers, in-home parenting or other in-home providers, or other providers regularly utilized for domestic violence cases. Dependency court personnel including judges, GALs, evaluators and other court related personnel are highly recommended to attend. Law enforcement including prosecutors, probation, police and others can be invited as identified as important by the organizers.
Target Audience Size: 15-200
Basic Safe and Together training (4 days)
This is the basic skill building Safe and Together training. These training days consist of lecture, group exercises, and other media to provide participants with an improved understanding about batterer behaviors, the impact of those behaviors on children, safety planning with survivors of domestic violence. In addition, the participants of the core training learn practical skills and interventions for each family member to enhance the safety and well-being of children.
Target Audience: Child welfare workers, supervisors and trainers. In addition, it is strongly suggested that child welfare invite one or more local domestic violence advocates to the training to share in the information and develop collaborative relationships that can improve work towards the safety and well-being of children.
Target Audience Size: 15-40
Subject Matter Expert Training and Technical Assistance Package
This training package has been used in several Florida DCF circuits. The focus of this approach is intensive training for a number of Child Protection Investigators/Intake Workers and ongoing workers to become “subject matter experts” in domestic violence. This means that they would be better equipped to handle domestic violence cases and also provide “consultation” to their colleagues in their units. The intensive training would provide them with content expertise in domestic violence and also “consultation” skills.
The package includes:
- Nine (9) onsite training days. This would include the core Safe and Together training (as outlined above), advanced training in working with perpetrators and survivors and training on consultation skills. This training would also include a day of training for supervisors and a presentation to child welfare’s community partners on the model.
- Multiple conference calls between trainings dates to discuss implementation of the model.
- Access to the Safe and Together website.
- Technical assistance on protocol development.
Target Audience: 30 child welfare staff. We also strongly recommend that you open up a few seats to your local Domestic Violence agency so it can help build cross system collaboration.
Target Audience Size: 30 for the core group of SMEs.
Safe and Together Model for Supervisors (5 Days)
This is the basic skill building Safe and Together training specifically for supervisors. These training days consist of lecture, group exercises, and other media to provide participants with an improved understanding about batterer behaviors, the impact of those behaviors on children, safety planning with survivors of domestic violence. In addition, the participants of the core training learn practical skills and interventions for each family member to enhance the safety and well-being of children. In addition, participants will learn specific skills for supervisors related to assessing workers’ capacity related to domestic violence, assessing risk and safety for children, addressing worker biases, and providing specific directives to staff in domestic violence cases.
This training package includes 3 days of training and 2 days of on-site technical assistance and coaching.
Target Audience: Child welfare supervisors and In addition, it is strongly suggested that child welfare invite one or more local domestic violence advocates to the training to share in the information and develop collaborative relationships that can improve work towards the safety and well-being of children.
Target Audience Size: 15-40
On-Site Technical Assistance/Consultation
The following is a menu of technical assistance and/or consultation that David Mandel & Associates, LLC can provide to training groups who have attended at least the basic Safe and Together model training:
- Legal Staffing/Consults: David Mandel & Associates, LLC staff can sit in on legal staffing and provide input on case practice as well as support Subject Matter Experts (if applicable) in their role of using the Safe and Together model to influence case practice.
- Case consultation: David Mandel & Associates, LLC staff can meet with child protection workers and/or groups of workers to discuss cases and provide feedback and recommendations on practice.
- Supervisory sessions: (see advanced or wrap-around training on coaching supervisors)
- Community or Policy Related Meetings: David Mandel & Associates, LLC can sit in community or agency meetings related to 1) implementing the Safe and Together model, 2) strategizing community outreach, 3) addressing policy or practice issues that arose during or after the implementation of the Safe and Together model.
Advanced or wrap-around trainings
The following is menu of trainings that can be added could be free standing or added to any of the above trainings:
- Consultation Skills
- Advanced Training on the Intersection of Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Child Behavioral Issues
- Advanced Training Day on Working with Survivors
- Advanced Training Day on Working with Batterers
- Advanced Supervisors Training
- Mentoring for Supervisors
- Training on Batterers as Parents
- Case Planning with Children