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Exploring Reasonable Efforts in Child Welfare Cases that Include Domestic Violence in Portland, Oregon

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2013
15 pages
This study examined how domestic violence (DV) cases are treated in juvenile dependency court in Portland, OR, and whether their treatment of DV cases differs from cases without domestic violence (non-DV).
The study shows that the court often recognized DV-related issues in dependency cases and sought to address these issues in service orders; however, DV and non-DV cases were treated similarly in other respects. One key finding was that substance abuse was more prevalent among fathers in DV cases than among fathers in non-DV cases. A second finding was that service orders significantly differed for parents in DV and non-DV cases. Mothers in DV cases were more likely to be ordered to attend domestic-violence counseling; and fathers in DV cases were more likely to receive orders to complete substance abuse assessment and treatment, as well as batterer intervention programs. Agency efforts to prevent removal of a child from the home and reunify families were similar for DV and non-DV cases. On the other hand, referrals to advocates for DV victims occurred in only a few cases, and there was no indication that such advocates were present at any of the hearings. Another key finding was that case timeliness, placements, and outcomes did not differ between DV and non-DV cases. The Portland Model Court, which was the site for this study, is developing action plans to further improve responses to dependency cases with co-occurring domestic violence. The current study reviews descriptive case information on 49 dependency cases with DV and 48 comparison cases with no indication of DV. Information collected included petition language regarding domestic violence, specific allegations, court orders, reasonable efforts, and services to all parties. 5 figures and 3 tables

Date Published: October 1, 2013