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If you are In the Domestic Violence Field...

Lonna Davis, The Director of the Children’s Program at Futures Without Violence, formerly, Family Violence Prevention Fund"The domestic violence field has a long history of honoring the safety of children who are exposed to domestic violence. Advocates have led the way in our understanding of the inextricable link of mothers' safety and child safety, and we all strive to ensure that children get what they need to feel confident and secure in the world.

But how can we ensure that children have their basic needs met? Have close friends and family relationships? Have access to recreation and learning opportunities? There are several important and bold steps advocates can take. First, we have to notice every child and identify what that child needs. Not all needs will be the same, as each child will have a set of unique experiences, their own temperament and resiliency factors. However, most children will need at least the following: access to basic needs, a sense of security and predictability, a positive sense of themselves – including cultural pride, the assurance that advocates will help them (and their mothers) stay safe from harm, and the knowledge that the violence, fighting and aftermath is not their fault.

I worry sometimes about the lone child advocate – I think we can do better by building the capacity of the whole field and move the conversation to a more holistic approach to serving children (and their mothers). Using practice, wisdom, and research informed interventions, creating sustainable referral networks for children, building the capacity and skills of the whole staff, not just one person, and developing policies to ensure that children's needs are fully integrated into our programming is a good beginning. Every child has a story- it's our job to help them tell it."

Resource

Domestic Violence and Children: Questions and Answers for Domestic Violence Project Advocates
A guide that addresses questions and their answers that advocates and professionals in the DV field struggle with daily in working with survivors of DV and their families. Raises awareness of children's exposure to domestic violence in the short and long term and resiliency factors. Assists in helping parents talk to their children about the violence and the steps for beginning the recovery process.

Advocacy Beyond Leaving: Helping Battered Women in Contact with Current or Former Partners. A Guide for Domestic Violence Advocates
Family Violence Prevention Fund (2009)
This Guide provides information for advocates in a question and answer format. Contents include practical suggestions to assist advocates in conducting safety planning, the potential for changing violent behavior, advocating safety training, and changing organizations to better serve families.

Addressing Domestic Violence in Indian Country - Office of Violence Against Women (2003)
This manual examines the reasons behind domestic violence in Native communities by looking at its historical origins and suggests ways to address its occurrence. Contents include a framework for understanding, advocacy role, Native men who use violence, domestic violence and children, and community organizing.

Safe Start Center Tip Sheet for Domestic Violence and Homeless shelters working with children exposed to trauma and violence

Realizing the Promise of Home Visitation: Addressing Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment (A Guide for Policy Makers)
Family Violence Prevention Fund, Safe Start Center and Avon Foundation for Women
This guide provides information about what works to promote safety for mothers and their children in home visiting programs and resources for developing policy initiatives. Topics include the relationship between domestic violence and child maltreatment, promising programs, national policy, current research, federal funding sources, and practice and policy recommendations.

Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: An Early Childhood Educator's Handbook to Increase Understanding and Improve Community Responses
Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System and Family Violence Prevention Fund (2002)
This handbook provides information for front-line staff in childcare and early childhood settings. Topics include the ways domestic violence impacts infants and young children, strategies for challenging behaviors, a pamphlet for families, and special contingencies when families are in a shelter.

Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Health

Biography of Lonna Davis, The Director of the Children’s Program at Futures Without Violence, formerly, Family Violence Prevention Fund

Ms. Davis has been in the field of domestic violence since 1982. Ms. Davis brings personal experience as a survivor of domestic violence and almost 30 years of a demonstrated track record on behalf of mothers and children. Prior positions include working in two domestic violence programs (including start up of a shelter's first children's program in 1987). She has worked in a Boston based trauma clinic performing forensic evaluations of children exposed to domestic violence, and provided supervision to AWAKE advocates at Boston Children's Hospital. Ms. Davis also worked for a decade at the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, where she co-founded the first domestic violence program to address child abuse. At Futures Without Violence, she has 10 years of experience providing technical assistance to states and communities concerning violence against women and child abuse. She has been in the forefront of several national child welfare reform initiatives that sought to integrate domestic violence, including the federal Greenbook demonstration project, the Annie E. Casey Family to Family Initiative and the Community Partnerships for the Protection of Children. Ms. Davis has authored numerous articles and has received local, state and national awards for her work.


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