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Journal Issue: Domestic Violence and Children Volume 9 Number 3 Winter 1999

Child Protective Services and Domestic Violence
Janet E. Findlater Susan Kelly


Studies estimate that domestic violence is present in at least one-third of the families involved in child protective services (CPS). Yet, until recently, CPS has not directly addressed domestic violence in its handling of child abuse and neglect cases. By the same token, domestic violence programs have historically emphasized services for battered women, with limited understanding of the child safety goals of CPS. Despite these historical differences, collaborative efforts between CPS and domestic violence service programs are emerging based on a common goal of safety from violence for all family members. Innovative strategies include the use of domestic violence specialists in a variety of child protection settings for case consultation and for support to the battered women, direct referrals of battered women from domestic violence programs to family preservation services, and cross-training of CPS workers and domestic violence service providers. A survey of state CPS administrators and domestic violence coalition directors conducted for this article revealed that although there is mutual interest in greater collaboration, such efforts remain limited. New forums, such as CPS citizen review panels and community-based CPS partnerships, hold promise for further collaboration. Critical to successful strategies are supportive agency leadership, greater trust and understanding across systems, a recognition of common goals, and a willingness to change policies and practice.