Safety and Case Planning (Webinar Aug 20 2013 PowerPoint

Safety organized, traumainformed and solutionfocused domestic violence
practice in child protection:
Safety and Case Planning
Tarrin Reed, Staff Associate
Shellie Taggart, Consultant
National Resource Center for Child Protective Services
August 20, 2013
Webinars in this series
• June: Focused on key issues for intake,
assessment and intervention; organizational
• July: Focused on engagement of the children,
non-offending parent and DV offender
Both available at
• TODAY: Focus on safety planning and case
Learning Objectives
• Understand what constitutes a safety
organized, trauma informed, solution focused
approach to planning in domestic violence (DV)
cases in child welfare;
• Know the resources available to support
continued learning about these approaches
and enhance development of DV practice.
• Safety organized, trauma informed, solution
focused approaches to planning with families;
• Planning for Safety;
• Case planning to address the needs of parents
and children relative to domestic violence.
Domestic Violence
• Domestic violence (DV) is a pattern of coercive
and violent behavior used by a person to
establish control over an intimate partner.
– May include: physical violence, sexual
violence/coercion, economic abuse,
verbal/emotional abuse, psychological abuse/threats,
using children, using systems such as CPS/courts.
Adult victim of violence is the non-offending parent (NOP)
Person using violence and coercion is the DV offender
Framework for Planning
• Safety Organized: Ongoing and continuous planning
for safety of the child/youth AND their nonoffending parent.
• Trauma Informed: “Acknowledges and responds to
the varying impact of traumatic stress on children,
caregivers, families, and those who have contact
with the system.”
• Solution Focused: Individualized, case-specific
planning based on the vision of the family/individual
of their future, existing meaningful relationships,
and exploration of past successes.
Essential Elements of a TraumaInformed Child Welfare System
Maximize physical and
psychological safety
for children and
Identify traumarelated needs of
children and families
Enhance child wellbeing and resilience
Enhance family wellbeing and resilience
Enhance the wellbeing and resilience
of those working in
the system
Partner with youth
and families
Partner with
agencies and
systems that interact
with children and
Chadwick TraumaInformed Systems
Making the connections
• Safety planning with the NOP, children/youth
and their support people IS trauma informed
• Solution-focused practice helps CPS discover
protective capacities of parents (both the NOP
and the DV offender) and their family members,
assess impact of past and current (on-going)
trauma, and craft effective safety plans and case
NRCCPS Safety Framework
• Safety is the primary basis for intervention.
• Objective is to eliminate, reduce, or effectively
manage impending danger threats by enhancing
caregiver protective capacity.
– Best way to create safety for child/youth is to
help the NOP and child/youth be safe together
– Strive to enhance protective capacities of
BOTH parents/caregivers
NRCCPS Safety Framework
• Vulnerable children are safe when no threats of
danger exist within the family or when parents possess
sufficient protective capacity to manage threats.
– Threats of danger are from the DV offender-reducing or eliminating the threat requires working
with him and holding him accountable whenever
– NOP’s behaviors and capacities reflect the context
of violence and abuse in which she lives--her action
or inaction must be considered/assessed in that
context of the threat.
– Prior history of trauma may affect protective
capacities of either parent.
Level of Intrusiveness
(Safety Organized, Trauma Informed)
• Goal of CPS is to ensure child safety, while also
keeping families together.
• CPS Safety Plans are developed on a least
intrusive to most intrusive spectrum.
Least intrusive
Children remain
in home with
offender leaves.
Most intrusive
Children remain
with NOP out of
Children are
placed in out of
home setting,
absent NOP.
CPS safety plan may be needed.
DV safety planning should ALWAYS be accomplished.
Planning for Safety
(Safety Organized, Trauma Informed)
• Is a CPS safety plan needed?
• How dangerous is the DV offender to the
child/youth? To the NOP?
• How vulnerable is the child/youth to physical
and/or emotional harm?
• What have parents and other adults done to
keep the child/youth safe? What resources are
• How effective has this been? What elements
have worked, and what has not worked?
• Always conduct DV safety planning with the NOP
Dangerousness of the DV Offender
Higher Risk to NOP
(Safety Organized)
Episodic/binge use of alcohol/drugs by DV offender
Increasing instability of DV offender
Violence escalating in frequency or severity
Serious physical violence (punching, kicking, cuts, bruises, burns,
broken bones, head injury, internal injury)
DV offender owns a gun, used/threated to use weapon
NOP has left or is planning to leave, or CPS forces her to leave
Highly intrusive control of NOP by DV offender
Acute jealousy coupled with violence
Behaviors continue after separation or divorce
Dangerousness of the DV Offender
Possible Lower Risk
(Safety Organized)
NOP is not afraid of the DV offender
Violence may recur but does not cause injury
Lower levels of physical violence (slapping, pushing)
Coercive control, but not severe or highly intrusive
No current substance abuse
ANY level of violence/coercion can have a significant
impact on the NOP or the child/youth depending on
a variety of factors.
Child vulnerabilities
(Safety Organized, Trauma Informed)
• Vulnerability: degree of dependence on others
for protection and care (age, trauma, disabilities or
delays, physical capacity, isolation, emotional
• Assess vulnerability in light of specific threats in
the family
– Does DV offender target the child/youth?
– Does he use the child/youth in abuse of NOP?
– Has he undermined child/youth relationship/bond
with NOP?
– Has child/youth attempted to intervene in abuse?
Protective Capacities—see Handout
(Safety Organized, Solution Focused)
Behavioral Protective Capacities:
• Either parent/caregiver (P/C) takes steps to prevent
child/youth from being exposed to DV; tells child/youth
NOT to intervene
• DV offender takes steps to reduce or end his use of
violence; abides by conditions of protective order;
refrains from using children in abuse of NOP; leaves the
home and stays away
• NOP conducts safety planning with child/youth; seeks
assistance of others to stay safe and keep child/youth
safe; uses strategies “in the moment” that have kept her
and her child safe
Protective Capacities—see Handout
(Safety Organized, Solution Focused)
Emotional Protective Capacities
• Either P/C expresses love, empathy, and sensitivity
toward the child/youth; experiences specific empathy
with the child/youth’s perspective and feelings; displays
concern for the child/youth and is intent on emotionally
protecting him/her
Cognitive Protective Capacities
• Either P/C understands child development and the
potential impact of exposure to DV on child and youth
development; recognizes the various ways that tactics
being used by the DV offender impact/harm the
Possible impact of trauma
Diminished protective capacities:
• Difficulty retaining information
• Diminished clarity in thinking
• Depression and/or reduced energy
• Difficulty following through on plans
• Diminished problem-solving skills
• Heightened focus on basic survival
• Lack of hope; difficulty imagining a better
National Center on Domestic
Violence, Trauma and Mental Health
• Creating a Welcoming Environment
• Enhancing Emotional Safety
• Supporting Children and Youth Exposed to DV: What
You Might See and What You Can Do
• Increasing Access to Services
• Discussing a Mental Health Referral with DV Survivors
• Supporting Survivors with Reduced Energy
• Making Connections with Survivors Experiencing
Psychiatric Disabilities
Goals of Case Planning
• Enhanced caregiver Protective Capacities
• Long-term safety for child/youth and NOP
• Strengthened bonds between child/youth and
safe, consistent adults
• Enhanced resiliency (ch/youth and caregivers)
• Access to resources/supports to promote safety
and well-being of child/youth and the family
• Healthier family relationships/healing
• Knowledge of services and supports to promote
safety in the future
Case planning
• Separate case plans are necessary—DV offender
access to the NOP’s plan gives him another way to
control her
• If DV will be discussed or if the outcome of a
decision-making meeting depends on NOP safety
plan, separate Family Team Meetings are needed
– DV offender meeting goal is engagement and
planning for CPS work and services for him
• Services may support changes in caregiver behaviors,
but participation in services is not a proxy for safety
or for change
Safety-organized Planning
• Planning MUST be done in partnership with the
NOP throughout the life of the case to insure CPS
intervention is safe and effective
• Safety planning is on-going and dynamic as
circumstances change (tactics of DV offender,
resources available, energy and ability of the NOP, etc)
• Planning for engagement and work with the DV
offender must be commensurate with level of
danger and risk he poses to family, and his
demonstrated willingness to make changes
Case planning: DV Offender
Challenge Behavior
Focus on Concerns
Support Person
Focus on Strengths
Solution-focused Planning
• Elicit caregiver strengths/capacities
• Help caregivers to see things through the eyes
of their child/youth, or the eyes of someone
who loves and cares about them
• Build on exceptions to the concerns—a time
when things were better
• Help caregivers develop a vision for a better,
safe and healthy future—and a plan to get there
• Notice and document changes
Trauma-informed Planning
• Be consistently empathetic and respectful
• Pay attention to NOP and child/youth safety
throughout the life of the case
• Strengthen informal networks of safety and
support (extended family, kin, friends, faith
communities, community connections)
• Be patient; expect to repeat things many times
• Anticipate and prepare for times of lower
energy/functioning of trauma survivors
• Find creative ways to help P/C retain information
and follow through
measurable changes
• Expecting immediate cessation of all
concerning behaviors is unrealistic—look
– Increased protective capacities of caregivers
– Less use of violence and coercion with NOP;
less exposure of child/youth
– Less impact on/more resilient child/youth
• Revisit and refine safety plans as needed
Shifting paradigm: Families
don’t fail, plans fail
• Families do the best they can given the resources
(internal and external) and information available to
• Many CPS families: past and current trauma,
poverty, lack of resources, marginalization, social
isolation, racism and discrimination, impoverished
communities, multiple stressors and issues, lack of
parenting role models
• CPS plans are developed to strengthen families and
promote effective parenting—but too often do not
take holistic view of individuals, of the family or
their circumstances
CPS plans fail in DV cases when:
• Assessments focus on reported incidents rather than
patterns and impact on child/youth and their NOP
• CPS routinely defines for the NOP what needs to
happen, rather than eliciting her knowledge and
• Engagement and planning for safety of the NOP ends
when she doesn’t comply with the CPS-defined plan
• Worker behaviors and statements reflect “What is
wrong with you?” rather than “What has happened
to you, or is happening now?”
CPS plans fail in DV cases when:
• DV offenders are routinely NOT engaged and held
accountable—most often because workers are not
trained to do so
• Complete and immediate cessation of violence/abuse
is expected, with no additional incidents of
violence/abuse--plans are seen as absolute rather
than as dynamic
• Family members are referred to services not
appropriate to their situation
• Workers fail to consider how changes in NOP stance
with CPS might indicate a changing level of
CPS plans succeed when we:
• Work in ways that establish trust (meet privately with
the NOP, plan for her safety, express respect and
empathy for all family members, etc)
• Invest time in understanding the perspective, cultural
framework, strengths, goals and hopes of the family-and in helping them to understand our perspective
• Craft plans WITH the family based on case
circumstances, rather than using formulaic approaches
• Reduce barriers to needed resources and supports
• Involve/strengthen natural systems of support for
families who will remain connected to them after CPS
• Hold out hope that change is possible and healing can
Appropriate services: NOP
DV advocacy services
Safety planning with her support people
Developing/strengthening her support network
Housing advocacy
Child care, transportation, food – other concrete
Parenting support
Skilled legal assistance with immigration issues
Home visiting
Substance abuse and mental health treatment
Appropriate services:
DV offender
• Batterer Intervention
• Responsible fatherhood program/parenting
• Substance abuse treatment
• Developing/strengthening his network of
support and accountability
• Mental health treatment (not as replacement
for BI)
• Employment assistance and other resources
that help maintain stability
Services to avoid
on CPS case plan for DV
• Couples counseling
– Can give a false sense of safety to the NOP; generally assumes
mutuality; sessions may generate retribution by DV offender
• Anger management
– Focuses on behavioral change but does not address underlying
belief system of DV offender; DV offenders often identify NOP
behaviors/qualities as “trigger” for their anger
• Joint parenting classes, other services
– Joint services imply equal responsibility for improved
parenting—while both may need help, the DV offender is
responsible for the violence
Promoting resiliency and healing
for children/youth
(Safety Organized,Trauma Informed)
• Establish a respectful and trusting relationship
with the child’s/youth’s NOP—help her to stay
• Help DV offenders remain non-violent and nonabusive; promote healthy, responsible fathering
• Tell child/youth the violence is not their fault
• Foster the child’s/youth’s self esteem
• Help child/youth know what to expect
Promoting resiliency and healing
for children/youth
(Safety Organized, Trauma Informed)
• Incorporate the family’s culture into
interventions; explore the values, norms, and
cultural meanings that impact their choices
and give them strength
• Teach and model alternatives to violence
• Discuss child/youth development with parents
• Address parenting stress
• Build networks of support and safety
Promoting resiliency and healing
for children/youth
(Trauma Informed)
• Use emotion words to help child/youth
develop emotional literacy, and help parents
to do this with their child/youth
• Create opportunities for child/youth to feel
successful, to develop talents, and to have
• Connect child/youth to a mentor
• Promote housing and educational stability
• Best Practices for Serving Children, Youth and Parents
Experiencing Domestic Violence
• Accountability and Connection with Abusive Men: A New
Child Protection Response to Increasing Family Safety
• Team Decisionmaking and Domestic Violence: Guidelines
for Facilitators
• CONNECT: Supporting Children Exposed to Domestic
Violence (curriculum for foster and kin caregivers)
• Culturally specific DV institutes AND State examples of DV
practices in CPS all available at

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