Journal Article

A Stop–Start Response: Social Services' Interventions with Children and Families Notified following Domestic Violence Incidents

Nicky Stanley, Pam Miller, Helen Richardson Foster and Gill Thomson

in The British Journal of Social Work

Volume 41, issue 2, pages 296-313
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcq071
A Stop–Start Response: Social Services' Interventions with Children and Families Notified following Domestic Violence Incidents

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The harm consequent on children's exposure to domestic violence is recognised in legislation in England and Wales. This paper reports on a study of the social work response to 184 families notified by the police to children's services in two English authorities. Families were tracked through case records over 21 months subsequent to the notification. The perspectives of social services' practitioners and managers were also captured through interviews. Only a small proportion of families received a service in the form of an initial assessment or further intervention; the notification triggered a service for just five per cent of families. Families who received a warning letter only were just as likely to be re-referred as those who met with no response. Those families receiving a service were likely to experience repeated notifications and assessments. The limited time period for completing assessments contributed to initial assessment workers' lack of engagement with perpetrators of domestic violence. Current structures for assessment and intervention contribute to a stop-start pattern of social work that seems ill-suited to building the trust and engagement needed to challenge the complex and enduring experience of domestic violence.

Keywords: children; domestic violence; social services; interventions

Journal Article.  6724 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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