This article looks at the ways that two different systems, the child welfare system and the domestic violence system, have framed the complexities arising from their overlapping mandates when children are at risk of maltreatment due to domestic violence. The authors review the legislation driving these systems, using examples from both the United States (Minnesota) and Canada (Ontario). They trace the policy and service response when child abuse reporting laws were amended to include children, as well as women, as victims of domestic violence. The child welfare system, viewing children as the primary clients, has often been at odds with the domestic violence system, which focuses on women as primary clients. The crux of the debate has centred around whether or not children’s exposure to domestic violence is maltreatment, and if so, whether it warrants placement in foster care. The article proposes that harm reduction, evidence-based practice, and differential response approaches can bring the two systems together to provide more effective services to families.
Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp. 689-698