Domestic violence among families investigated for child maltreatment: A multi-level analysis
The growth of the knowledge base about children's experiences in families with domestic violence has been followed by public policy and programmatic efforts to improve the capacity of child welfare agencies to intervene with domestic violence. Yet, the relationship between these efforts, the provision of services, and safety outcomes has not been well studied. This dissertation, first, examines the relationship between child welfare agency characteristics and the accurate identification of domestic violence, referral to domestic violence services and receipt of domestic violence services among child welfare involved victimized mothers; second, it clarifies the relationship between domestic violence revictimization, domestic violence services, depression, and substance abuse; and last it analyzes the link between domestic violence and the risk of recurrent maltreatment, and determine factors that predict re-involvement with child welfare services.
Linked datasets are used: the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW), a longitudinal, national probability study of children and families investigated for child maltreatment, and the Family Violence Services Survey (FVSS), which includes characteristics of child welfare agencies in the NSCAW study. While the sample size for each individual study varies somewhat due to analytic approach and/or missing data, in general, the sample is comprised of mothers self-reporting domestic violence victimization and their child. Mother and child dyads are only included if the child remained in home following the maltreatment investigation that led to study inclusion. Statistical techniques include descriptive statistics, propensity score matching, repeated measures regression with generalized estimating equations, and event history analysis.
The results suggest that there is a relationship between some agency characteristics (e.g., collaboration and training) and the agency's efforts to intervene with domestic violence. While domestic violence decreases for all victimized women in the study, the receipt of domestic violence services does not result in less re-victimization. Finally, over a third of children of victimized mothers become re-involved with child welfare services over the study window. Continued efforts are needed to improve agency capacity to address domestic violence among families investigated for child maltreatment. However, this must be done in conjunction with the improvement of interventions to increase family safety.