Partnering With Child Protection Agencies

shutterstock_45542104Men who use violence with a partner often also abuse or threaten children, or use other tactics that place them at risk. Some force children to watch the abuse, undermine a mother’s parenting or file reports against her with child protection (CPS). Traumatized mothers may appear depressed, self-medicate with drugs or appear neglectful if caring for children is difficult because of the abuse. Children and older youth exposed to DV can suffer physical, emotional, social, psychological, or cognitive impairments. For these and other reasons, domestic violence can result in a family’s involvement with CPS. Collaboration between DV and CPS agencies helps the child welfare system to become more responsive to survivor needs and more effective in promoting safety and well-being of children with their mother, and can interrupt the ability of men who use violence to use CPS as a tool against their partners.


  • Who are the allies and key points of contact within CPS for DV advocates? For supervisors and program managers of DV agencies?
  • Is there agreement between DV programs and CPS that a need exists for a coherent, coordinated and trauma-informed approach to addressing DV in diverse families?
  • What information is available about families who are involved in both CPS and DV services?
  • Does the DV program view itself as a partner to the CPS agency in assuring safety of children in the community?
  • Are staff at various levels interested in learning as much about CPS as they are about helping CPS to understand DV? Are they committed to improving DV services?

Strategies for working together:shutterstock_52163428

  • Policy development and review, with explicit consideration of the impact on marginalized communities
  • Practice protocols and DV safety guidance for key junctures in CPS cases (i.e. family meetings, court proceedings, removals of children)
  • Data collection and analysis on DV within the CPS caseload (broken down by race, ethnicity, etc); parallel data collection on family’s CPS involvement and children’s needs within DV programs
  • Evaluation of collaboration impacts and outcomes
  • Formal collaboration models (such as co-located DV advocates with CPS)

Key Issues to Consider in Developing Partnerships: