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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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.

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