7/24/14: County Social Services, Child & Family Services Collaborate on Domestic Violence

Modified: January 23, 2015 3:01pm

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Initiative Addresses Family Violence Holistically, Allows Resource Sharing, Improved Communication

ERIE COUNTY, NY— National studies have estimated that between 30% - 60% of domestic violence perpetrators also abuse children in the household. To address this, the Erie County Department of Social Services (“ECDSS”) is collaborating with Child & Family Services of Erie County on an initiative to improve service delivery to families experiencing both domestic violence and child abuse.   ECDSS has contracted with Child & Family Services, whose programs include the domestic violence shelter Haven House, to provide two trained domestic violence advocates to assist with Child Protective Services (“CPS”) investigations when additional family violence is suspected.

“With this new partnership, the child protective worker and domestic violence advocate will work collaboratively to support that parent’s efforts to protect their child,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer. “By addressing the needs of the abused adult, we hope to reduce the likelihood that their child will be abused in the future. This collaboration will strengthen our response during a CPS investigation to those experiencing family violence.”

This collaboration emerged out of the need to address family violence holistically, rather than addressing domestic violence and child abuse separately, and will also improve communication and coordination between CPS and domestic violence agencies.  Through collaborative work, each professional discipline draws on the resources and expertise of the other to better respond to the needs of the family and to promote safety and protection for all family members, while holding the perpetrator responsible for their behavior.

“Working in tandem with our colleagues from CPS will help ensure that victims of domestic violence have direct and immediate access to shelter and advocacy services thus creating a higher level of safety for children,” added Katey Joyce, Director of Haven House.

In 2013, the University at Albany released a study of outcomes from co-locating domestic violence advocates within Child Protective Services. The study concluded that this arrangement improved the relationship between the child protective and domestic violence systems and provided valuable services to clients. Victims of intimate partner abuse were found to have been able to quickly access domestic violence services, which many of these individuals might not have accessed otherwise.