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July 19, 2016 | Policy Guidance, Practice Guidance

Building Promising Futures: Guidelines for Enhancing Response of Domestic Violence Programs to Children & Youth


Eleanor Lyon, PhD, Julia Perilla, PhD, Anne Menard

This discussion paper presents guidelines for consideration to improve the services to and success of children exposed to domestic violence. There is increasing evidence—both researchbased and practice-based—of the strong relationship between the health and well-being of children and that of their protective parents or caretakers where family and/or domestic violence occur (Carpenter & Stacks, 2009; Blodget et al., 2008; Bourassa, 2007; Burke et al., 2008; Crusto et al., 2010). Many domestic violence (DV) programs across the country have made great strides in focusing more attention on children and youth over the last 15 years, including those supported in 2005-2008 with funds generated by the Family Violence Stamp. However, others may require additional support and guidance to fully embrace and implement comprehensive and integrated approaches to working with children affected by violence within their families. Separate responses to mothers’ and children’s safety and well-being often place them at odds with one another. In contrast, an
integrated approach to intervening with the family as a whole results in better outcomes for children, their mothers, and the whole family (Gewirtz et al., 2011; Ghasemi, 2009; Jaffee et al., 2002). These comprehensive solutions more accurately reflect the lived realities of families affected by the violence.