Supporting the Safety of Battered Mothers and Their Children Together: A Guide to Assessing Child Protection Practice in Domestic Violence-Related Cases

Another Praxis International Tool for Change-Oriented Advocacy: Supporting survivors’ efforts to secure safety, recovery, rights, and autonomy while also working to reform the social institutions, public policy, and community norms that support battering and other forms of violence against women.

In 2010 Praxis, in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and The Center for the Study of Social Policy, received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, to create a tool for communities to assess their current child protective services practices and linkages with community-based advocacy. The process helps communities answer important questions:

  • Do we know when battering is a factor in child maltreatment cases and the impact on the child and mother?
  • What do we know about her strategies to protect her children? Does our intervention enhance or diminish her capacity to protect her children?
  • Does our intervention contribute to harmful, disparate outcomes for specific groups of people?
  • Does our intervention increase or decrease risk of harm from the batterer?
  • Is there more we can do to stop the batterer?

Using the Praxis Institutional Analysis process, a draft of the practice assessment guide was produced, creating tools for community teams of advocates, child protection representatives, and others to engage in an assessment of the child protective services response to domestic violence, and to incorporate new policies and practices for responding to cases with an overlap of child maltreatment and battering. The guide was then tested in Wright County, Minnesota (see below for the report from that test application), revised with final reviews by OVW and project partners, and is now available for free download below. For support and guidance in utilizing the practice assessment guide, please contact: safetyaudit@praxisinternational.org or call Maren Woods, Program Manager, 651-699-8000, x10.

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 Past webinar series of the development of the Child Welfare Guide:

Part 1: Advocating for Enhancements to Child Protective Services Response to Battering, November 2015

Olga Trujillo, Praxis Senior Program & Training Specialist, Rose Thelen, Praxis TA Partner, and Maren Woods, Praxis Program Manager

Watch Webinar recording
PDF iconPowerPoint
PDF iconTranscript

Part 2: Implications for Local Response: Lessons Learned from the Wright County Experience, December 2015

Olga Trujillo, Praxis Senior Program & Training Specialist and Rose Thelen, Praxis TA Partner, with Marianne Charbonneau and Jessica Nelson, Wright County Child Protection and Jodi Vannett, Rivers of Hope

Watch Webinar recording
PDF iconPowerPoint
PDF iconTranscript


 Examples of outcomes from one community that tested the guide include:

The assessment process identifies strengths in local response, but it is primarily built to identify gaps that need to be addressed to improve outcomes for battered mothers and their children. As such, implicit in the process is the expectation of systemic change after the findings report is written. The following enhancements and outcomes have already been reported by practitioners in Wright County, MN who partnered with Praxis to test the draft guide from 2014-2015:

  • Improved relationships and better communication between child protective services and the local battered women’s advocacy program
  • Enhanced mutual understanding of roles of child protective services and community-based advocacy program in relation to families, children, survivors
  • Use of a new language and approach to seeking systemic change
  • Lethality assessment from law enforcement reports are now sent over to child protection along with the standard police report that involves children
  • Meetings with other entities, eg. Probation, are being conducted to explore stronger and more meaningful linkages
  • Use of more specific language to describe battering in child protection documentation that holds the batterer accountable
  • Revised and new procedures for child protection workers in cases involving domestic violence
  • Created a new position for a child protection worker with specific focus on cases involving domestic violence

More examples of outcome and impact of Praxis Institutional Analysis, community assessment, and the Praxis Safety & Accountability Audits.


 Child Protective Services Response to Battering: A Practice Assessment National Test Site Findings and Recommendations for Practice


Wright County Child Protection & Rivers of Hope, Buffalo, MN

September 2015

The guide and assessment process was tested in Wright County, Minnesota, by a team including representatives from Rivers of Hope, a local community-based advocacy program, Wright County Health and Human Services-Child Protection, and Praxis International. The report below highlights the findings and recommendations from this 10-month assessment.

PDF icon Full report


For support and guidance in utilizing the practice assessment guide, please contact: safetyaudit@praxisinternational.org or call Maren Woods, Program Manager, 651-699-8000, x10.

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