Defending Childhood Recommendations: Home visiting services

DCI report header

Attorney General Eric Holder affirms that children’s exposure to violence is nothing less than a national crisis. With this public health issue comes serious ramifications for the future of our country and the young men and women who will soon be called upon to build that future. 

In response to these troubling statistics and others, Holder launched the Defending Childhood Initiative in 2010, which has since resulted in a report on prevalence and recommendations. Throughout the month of July we’ll take a closer look at some of the recommendations, what is being done and what you can do to help.

One of the Task Force’s recommendations is to expand access to home visiting services for families with children who are exposed to violence, focusing on safety and referral to services.”

Currently, there are several different early childhood home visiting models, all of which provide services designed to improve maternal and child health, early cognitive and emotional development, and family safety and stability, including family violence prevention.  As a result, the Affordable Care Act (2010) included provisions to support America’s Healthy Futures Act, a $1.5 billion, five-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.”
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Defending Childhood Recommendations: Domestic violence services

DCI report header

Attorney General Eric Holder affirms that children’s exposure to violence is nothing less than a national crisis. With this public health issue comes serious ramifications for the future of our country and the young men and women who will soon be called upon to build that future.

In response to these troubling statistics and others, Holder launched the Defending Childhood Initiative in 2010, which has since resulted in a report on prevalence of childhood exposure to violence and recommendations to address it. Throughout the month of July we’ll take a closer look at some of the recommendations, what is being done and what you can do to help.

One of the Task Force recommendations is to “ensure that parents who are victims of domestic violence have access to services and counseling that help them protect and care for their children.”

Everyone knows that within intimate relationships, conflicts occur. When parents handle differences calmly, particularly in the presence of their children, they are helping to shield their children from toxic stress. On the other hand, heated confrontations in front of children are much more likely to teach even young children that home is far from safe. This is particularly true when there are frequent hostile interactions between parents. Repeated exposure to such conflicts can be a source of chronic stress. Infants can begin to worry for their parents and to see their parents as frightening. Toddlers and school-aged children are likely to learn aggressive behavior and develop poor social and emotional skills.

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Defending Childhood Recommendations: Engage fathers

DCI report header

Attorney General Eric Holder affirms that children’s exposure to violence is nothing less than a national crisis. With this public health issue comes serious ramifications for the future of our country and the young men and women who will soon be called upon to build that future.

In response to these troubling statistics and others, Holder launched the Defending Childhood Initiative in 2010, which has since resulted in a report on prevalence of childhood exposure to violence and recommendations to address it.

Throughout the month of July we’ll take a closer look at some of the recommendations, what is being done and what you can do to help.

One of the recommendations of the Task Force recommendations is to “ensure that parenting programs in child- and family-serving agencies, including fatherhood programs and other programs specifically for men integrate strategies for preventing domestic violence and sexual assault and include reparation strategies when violence has already occurred.”

A father’s engagement with their children is associated with positive cognitive, social, and emotional development from infancy to adolescence. The father’s role is more than that of economic provider and includes nurturing, caregiving, and emotional support in both obvious and subtle ways.

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Defending Childhood Recommendations: Identification

DCI report header

Attorney General Eric Holder affirms that children’s exposure to violence is nothing less than a national crisis. With this public health issue comes serious ramifications for the future of our country and the young men and women who will soon be called upon to build that future.

In response to these troubling statistics and others, Holder launched the Defending Childhood Initiative in 2010, which has since resulted in a report on prevalence of childhood exposure to violence and recommendations to address it. Throughout the month of July we’ll take a closer look at some of the recommendations, what is being done and what you can do to help.

“The first crucial step in protecting our children is to identify and provide timely and effective help to those who already are being victimized by violence.”

Defending Childhood Task Force Report

One of the recommendations of the Task Force is to “ensure that children exposed to violence are identified, screened and assessed.”

To reach this goal, it is crucial that staff serving children and families have the knowledge and skills needed to understand, recognize and address the impact of victimization and traumatic experiences on children.

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Defending Childhood Task Force Recommendations: A closer look

DCI report header

Attorney General Eric Holder affirms that children’s exposure to violence is nothing less than a national crisis. With this public health issue comes serious ramifications for the future of our country and the young men and women who will soon be called upon to build that future.

The horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that claimed the lives of 20 elementary school children and six adults last December served as a shocking reminder of how much is at stake in the ongoing fight to protect the most vulnerable citizens: children.   Nearly every day the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School is compounded by individual tragedies that take place on the streets of big cities and small towns across the country that too often pass unnoticed.

The most comprehensive study of children’s experience with exposure to violence is the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), first conducted 2008-2009. Results indicate that 60 percent of children surveyed had experienced at least one form of violence or abuse over the past year, nearly half experienced at least two forms of victimization, and 8 percent experienced seven or more different types of victimization.  An update released earlier this year confirms that this data remained fairly stable in the study done in 2011.

Defending Childhood Initiative

In response to these troubling statistics and others, Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative on September 23, 2010. The Attorney General has been personally and professionally committed to this issue for many years, dating back to early in his career when he served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and through his tenure as Deputy Attorney General. Building on lessons learned from previously funded research and programs that Attorney General Holder spearheaded, such as Safe Start, the Child Development-Community Policing Program, and the Greenbook Initiative, Defending Childhood leverages existing resources across the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to focus on preventing, addressing, reducing, and more fully understanding childhood exposure to violence.

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DOJ moving forward with CEV recommendations

In an April 12 meeting with the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Attorney General Eric Holder described work to move forward with plans to prevent and reduce instances of childhood exposure to violence.

Defending Childhood Task Force at December report release.

The Defending Childhood Task Force released their report and 56 recommendations in December.

In December, Holder’s Defending Childhood Task Force issued a report and 56 recommendations to address this public health issue. Since then, Holder said he has enlisted officials from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to get the ball rolling.

“Over the past several months, OJJDP’s leadership and staff members have begun to engage with a range of federal partners about how we might be responsive to the Task Force recommendations,” Holder said.

“At my request, Department leaders have developed near-and long-term strategies for how we can collaborate with our colleagues and counterparts in order to make a positive difference in four primary areas of activity:   raising public awareness, strengthening professional education and training, building knowledge through ongoing research, and increasing DOJ and federal coordination and capacity.

Over the next year, I am charging my DOJ colleagues to plan for the implementation of these recommendations.”

(Read Holder’s entire speech here.)

Currently, there are grantees working around the country on evidence-based programs and practices to address childhood exposure to violence under the Defending Childhood and Safe Start initiatives.

Last week, Holder also announced a new task force to address childhood exposure to violence in tribal communities, a response to the Defending Childhood Task Force recommendations.

The American Indian/Alaska Native Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence will be headed by Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West and will focus on:

  • Improving the identification and treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native children exposed to violence;
  • Supporting American Indian and Alaska Native communities and tribes as they define their own responses to this problem; and
  • Involving American Indian and Alaska Native youth in developing solutions.

“This is nothing less than a national crisis – with serious ramifications for the future of our country, and for the young men and women who will soon be called upon to build that future,” Holder told the Council.

“The cost of failure and inaction – both human and moral – is simply too high to contemplate.  The responsibility for turning back the tide of violence rests with each of the leaders – in this room and far beyond it – who has made a commitment to fighting back.  And that’s why, as long as we work together, support one another, and remain steadfast in our determination to make the difference our children need – I believe there’s no limit to what we’ll be able to achieve.”

Click here to read the Defending Childhood Task Force’s full report.

Defending Childhood Task Force issues report, recommendations

Defending Childhood task force

Photo courtesy of OJJDP

“We are facing one of the most significant challenges to the future of America’s children that we have ever known. Our children are experiencing and witnessing violence on an alarming scale.”

 – Defending Childhood Task Force co-chairs Joe Torre & Robert Listenbee Jr.

Dec. 12, the Defending Childhood Task Force turned over its final report to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Created in October 2011, the 13-member task force visited four communities across the country, hosting hearings to learn about children’s exposure to violence, an experience co-chair Joe Torre said enriched his life.

Task force members told stories of speaking with gang members, parents and practitioners that resulted in the 56 recommendations that make up the report.

Recommendations include:

1.2 – Appoint a federal task force or commission to examine the needs of American Indian/Alaska Native children exposed to violence.

1.3 – Engage youth as leaders and peer experts in all initiatives defending children against violence and its harmful effects.

2.3 – Include curricula in all university undergraduate and graduate programs to ensure that every child- and family-serving professional receives training in multiple evidence-based methods for identifying and screening children for exposure to violence.

4.5 – Create multidisciplinary councils or coalitions to assure systemwide collaboration and coordinated community responses to children exposed to family violence.

Read the full report here.

According to the report, 46 million children in the U.S. will be exposed to violence this year.

The Safe Start and Defending Childhood initiatives provide funding to organizations across the country that are providing evidence-based programs and interventions to reduce and eliminate childhood exposure to violence and it’s negative impacts.

We compiled tweets from the task force’s presentation, which include related resources here.

What do you think about the report and recommendations? Were you surprised by anything? Are you already doing some of the recommendations? Tell us in the comments below.

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