Witnessing domestic violence can have a profound effect on a child’s emotional and cognitive development. Children are exposed to abuse in a variety of ways:
Sometimes they are direct witnesses to abusive explosions. Sometimes they see the aftermath: a hole in a wall or door, food or dishes thrown to the floor, furniture overturned, broken or smashed items, the parent’s injuries or tear-stained face.
Even when in another room, children frequently hear the arguments, the hitting, and the threats.
Children feel the stress of worrying about a parent or anticipating an explosion. Children can also get caught in the middle of a fight: baby being held when the mother is hit or pushed, a toddler playing on the floor who gets knocked into by the parents, an older child who tries to stand up for the victim and gets pushed or hit by the abuser.
CCADV believes in every family and individual child’s resiliency. While the effects of exposure to violence vary and are many, our member programs and their staff work delicately and carefully with the victims that are often forgotten, the children.
Each CCADV member program has a specialized Child Advocate, a role specifically designed to address the needs of children. Our trauma-informed Child Advocates work with parents to help them understand the effects of the domestic violence and how it impacts the child, restore a healthy parent- child relationship and safety plan when the offending parent is involved.
Regularly trained by national experts including Betsy McAlister Groves and Maxine Weinreb of the Child Witness to Violence Project out of Boston Medical Center, Child Advocates are always challenged to think critically on how to best serve each individual child’s needs. Twice a year Child Advocates also receive training on topics such as: the rights of children related to the McKinney Vento Homeless Act, the statewide Birth-to-Three program for children that are developmentally delayed, and the resources available for children through CCADV’s collaboration with Head Start and the CT Parent Advocacy Center.
Another important child-focused initiative at CCADV includes the delivery of Safe Families Safe Homes (SFSH), a curriculum based-training that was initially created to provide Head Start staff with the skill-set needed when working with children exposed to domestic violence. Selected as one of the original pilot sites to deliver this model in 2004, CCADV has continued to deliver SFSH, which now has expanded to meet the training needs of child care providers working with children exposed to domestic violence.
In order to better serve families exposed to domestic violence, CCADV is committed to improving collaboration between the criminal justice system, child protection system and CCADV’s domestic violence advocates.
The Improving Outcomes for Children and Families Exposed by Family Violence Workgroup is a product of the June 2014 Children Witness to Domestic Violence Roundtable hosted at the Legislative Office Building by the Office of the Child Advocate and Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The roundtable examined a series of 2014 in-state domestic violence homicides where children were present at the scene, with a broader aim to establish stronger policy and practice amongst Connecticut systems and stakeholders who respond to children and youth exposed to domestic violence.
In January 2015, the workgroup, co-chaired by CCADV CEO Karen Jarmoc and State Child Advocate, Sarah Eagan, submitted its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly's Children's Committee. Findings and recommendations are focused in the areas of data, creation of a "Center of Excellence", multi-disciplinary teams, training, and statewide standards & protocols.
For more information about our services for children, please contact Kelly Annelli, Director of Member Organization Services, at (860) 282-7899 or firstname.lastname@example.org.