Home Visitation Programs Can Help More Families if They Address Domestic Violence

Home Visitation Programs Can Help More Families if They Address Domestic Violence

The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 and included provisions to support America’s Healthy Futures Act, a $1.5 billion dollar 5-year national initiative to support maternal infant and early childhood home visitation programs.

In addition to providing funds to support these services, the legislation also included new benchmark requirements for States. One such benchmark requires home visitation programs to measure a reduction in "crime or domestic violence".

Futures Without Violence has been working with home visitation programs and providing domestic violence and child abuse training and education for more than a decade.

When it comes to promoting health and safety outcomes for women and children impacted by abuse, there is an art to good assessment, primary prevention and anticipatory guidance messaging in programs.  What one says and how it’s said—whether by direct assessment or through universal education—matters and can be the difference when developing trusting relationships with mothers.

Futures Without Violence is working to transform how home visitors address and support families facing abuse through its tools and program:

This interactive training includes discussion questions, video clips, role-plays, and other exercises. The following topics are covered in the curriculum:
• How Domestic Violence Affects Home Visitation Goals and Staffing
• Brief Overview of Domestic Violence: Definitions and Dynamics
• Screening and Safety Planning for Domestic Violence in Home Visitation
• Impact of Domestic Violence on Perinatal Health Outcomes
• Making the Connection: Domestic and Sexual Violence and Reproductive Coercion
• The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children
• Impact of Violence on Mothering and Promoting Resiliency for Children
• Childhood Exposure to Violence and Its Impact on Parenting
• Preparing Your Program And Supporting Staff Exposed to Violence and Trauma
• Fathering After Violence
• Mandated Reporting for Child Abuse: Challenges and Considerations
The curriculum provides a wide range of resources that are designed to support home visitors in addressing family violence. It also includes the Relationship Assessment Tool that has been piloted and adapted for use during home visits. Two safety cards that have been developed for use during home visits are demonstrated through role plays and video vignettes. The Healthy Moms, Happy Babies safety card is designed to facilitate talking with clients about healthy relationships, assessing for domestic violence, and discussing safety planning when violence is disclosed. A second safety card called Loving Parents, Loving Kids is used by home visitors to educate parents about how childhood exposure to violence can affect parenting and strategies to support parents and children exposed to violence. Other resources include the First Impressions video, a resource designed to educate parents about how exposure to domestic violence can impact early brain development, and Something My Father Would Do, which features men who describe their experiences of growing up in violent households and how it influenced their lives, relationships, and parenting skills. Pre-training and post-training surveys are provided with the curriculum.
  • At Futures Without Violence’s February 3, 2010 Congressional briefing, researchers emphasized the effects of intimate partner violence on children’s development.
  • View Dr. Megan Bair-Merritt’s (Johns Hopkins University) presentation here.
  • View Dr. Linda Bullock’s (University of Missouri) presentation here.


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