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Exploring Reasonable Efforts in Child Welfare Cases that Include Domestic Violence (Site A)

NCJ Number
Lorie Sicafuse; Steve Wood M.S.; Alicia Summers Ph.D.
Date Published
November 2013
20 pages
This study examined how domestic violence (DV) cases are treated in juvenile dependency court in Reno, NV, and whether they are processed differently compared to cases without domestic violence.
The findings show that the court often recognized DV-related issues in dependency cases and attempted to address these issues in service orders. On the other hand, DV and non-DV cases were treated similarly in other respects. In just over one-third of the cases with co-occulting DV, DV was not identified as an allegation or problem on the petition; however, it was discovered in the course of case processing. Substance abuse was more prevalent among both mother and fathers in DV cases than among parents in non-DV dependency cases. Another finding was that service orders differed significantly for parents in DV and non-DV cases. Mothers in DV cases were more likely to receive orders for random drug screening, substance abuse assessment, and domestic violence counseling. Fathers in DV cases were more likely to receive orders for random drug screening, substance abuse assessment, and domestic violence counseling/batterer intervention programs. Court efforts to prevent removal of the juvenile from the home and to reunify the family were similar for DV and non-DV cases. In addition domestic-violence victim advocates were rarely involved in cases with co-occurring DV. Case time-lines, placements, and outcomes did not differ between DV and non-DV cases. Since these findings are based on a limited sample and not all initial study objectives could be achieved due to a lack of available case information, the authors recommend that future research examine more overarching themes in dependency cases that involved DV, such as whether perpetrators of DV are held accountable and whether efforts are made to keep victims and children safe and together. Using a structured case file review instrument, the study examined descriptive case information on 28 dependence cases with DV and 37 comparison cases with no indicate of DV. 7 figures and 3 tables