Collaboration with University of Central Lancashire, University of East London, University of Edinburgh and University of Northampton.
Developing the evidence base for social care responses to children / families affected by domestic abuse
There is a strong international evidence base that details the negative, short and long-term outcomes that domestic abuse has for child and adult victims (Sousa et al., 2011). A greater awareness of the impact of domestic abuse on children has resulted in domestic abuse being framed as child protection or child welfare issue, underlining the significance that DA has for social care. DA is reported as an issue for 40% of the families that make up social work caseloads.
Greater knowledge of the negative effects that DA has on children, as well as the number of children affected has demanded innovation in social care responses to children with experience of domestic abuse. However, much of the innovation in this area has tended to focus on the identification of domestic abuse or on the assessment of risk in this context – less attention has been paid to how families are supported or what happens to families following identification (e.g. are families safer?). While attempts to improve social care responses to DA are welcomed, there is insufficient evidence on the effectiveness of these. The evidence that there is exists on social care responses, highlights problems with particular areas of practice e.g. SW or police responses.
This project will make a significant contribution to this evidence base through its exploration of the outcomes that social responses delivers for families affected by DA. Our work will focus on three areas of intervention:
• Safe and Together – an intervention that aims to ensure that children and non-abusive parents are able to stay together safely after domestic abuse
• Interventions to support mothers and children under 3 years, to enhance attachment, improve safety and reduce risk to child development
• Interconnections between criminal justice processes and social care: Police responses to domestic abuse: Compulsory reporting to schools, involvement of police in MARACs, and responses of officers when attending scenes of domestic abuse; and young people’s participation in domestic homicide review