Guiding Principles

picture two childrenChildren and mothers are firmly connected and our advocacy should be connected too.

  • It should be our focus to support strengthening bonds between mothers, children and siblings.  Supporting the mother-child bond through our advocacy is supported by research which indicates that the most important protective resource to enable children to cope with exposure to violence is a strong relationship with a competent, caring, positive adult, most often a parent. (Groves, B.M., and Zuckerman, B. )
  • When children’s advocates and adult’s advocates work together, programming is more effective and better promotes resiliency for families.

All advocates should be children’s advocates just as all advocates are women’s advocates.

  • It is best when this philosophy permeates our programs and is reflected in our values, hiring, training priorities, policies and practices.

It gets more complicated when we thoughtfully provide services for both mothers and their children.

  • Issues about parenting styles, culture, child abuse, teen boys in shelter, visitation with fathers, etc. all come up and often challenge the values of programs and individual staff
  • Ongoing conversations, supervision and intentional training are crucial elements to ensure respectful and effective programming.

 Cultural relevancy is critical.

  •  Programs provide more effective services to a diversity of families when they seek diversity among staff, collaborate with culturally specific agencies and set high standards for culturally relevant practice.

Trauma informed responses create significantly improved outcomes for families.

  • Understanding the impact of trauma on children and adults who have experienced violence helps DV programs better respond to the needs of families and stay connected to survivor centered advocacy. Tips on developing trauma informed responses.
  • Seemingly ordinary interactions between advocates and women and children can have a positive impact on promoting resiliency and healing. If we are intentional about supporting the mother-child bond with our approach, language, and interventions, programs can achieve better outcomes.

Effective Mental Health Interventions include the following core components:

  • Stabilize the environment for the child and the family.
  • Give family members support and information about how children respond to witnessing violence. Caregivers may be unaware of how affected children and youth are from exposure to violent behavior.
  • Provide information on child development, and offer age and developmentally appropriate interventions.
  • Work with caregivers to create strategies for reducing symptoms and managing challenging behaviors.
  • Help the child and the caregiver understand the child’s perspective of the violent event(s).
  • Help the child to tell the story of the traumatic event in play or words.
  • Correct cognitive distortions or misunderstandings about the event.
  • Provide activities that promote a child’s competence and self-esteem.
  • Collaborate with all agencies and care providers that are part of a child’s life.