Category Archives: projects

An innovative approach to working with adolescent family violence in DuPage County, Illinois

Continuing the series of guest blogs, I am pleased to bring you this from Amanda Holt, information about a service in Illinois for families experiencing adolescent family violence. I was particularly thrilled to hear from Amanda, as I have been contacted a number of times by people in the States asking for pointers and guidance in developing or accessing help. News of the screening tool is very welcome, and I was also very interested in the understanding that girls are coming from different circumstances, with separate needs. Finally, the first responder aspect is one which can hopefully feed in to similar discussions taking place in the UK at present. Please do check out all the links; there is a lot of information here and it will take a while to digest it all, but it brings a new interpretation to the table which many will find helpful I think. Thank you Amanda!

 

This month marks the tenth anniversary that North East DuPage Family and Youth Services (NEDFYS) (in Illinois, US) ran its first adolescent family violence programme, based on principles from the Step-up programme that was developed by Greg Routt and Lily Anderson in King County, Washington State in 1997. Since that time, 170 families have completed all 21-week sessions and graduated successfully: of these, only 11 (6%) were rearrested for a new offence related to family violence within 12 months after graduation. The programme itself is a collaborative effort between the Juvenile Court Judges, the States Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s office, Northeast DuPage Family and Youth Services and Probation and it emerged from a Models For Change four-year grant that DuPage County received from the MacArthur Foundation beginning in 2006.

Last year I had the privilege of visiting the team in Illinois and observing their innovative work. I was struck by their dedication and commitment to the cause, and also by their extensive knowledge of adolescent family violence and their thirst to keep on learning and develop new ways of working. For example, frustrated that court involvement and detention was not helpful in dealing with cases of adolescent family violence (where there were high rates of re-arrest), the team developed the first screening tool (that I’m aware of) to help them appropriately respond to its different contexts. Published in 2015, the Adolescent Domestic Battery Typology Tool (ADBTT) represents the culmination of a five-year project where the team, with the assistance of research consultants from the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), reviewed 150 case files from which they developed a set of typologies, which were then subject to a large pilot validation study (details of the development process can be found in the ADBTT manual here, and also here). The ADBTT helps the team to identify who should be diverted from the court, what the level of supervision should be, and what (if any) the out-of-home placement needs are. For each of the ‘types’, safety planning, trauma-informed practices, and family therapy principles that work with the family system as a whole are at the centre of the intervention work. Of course, the tool is not a replacement for thoughtful consideration of each unique family and its needs, but it does offer a useful additional resource for practitioners who need to make difficult decisions about how to support the different families that they encounter.

A second innovation is the Girls Gaining and Growing Project, which specifically looks at developing a treatment protocol for girls who are violent towards family members. The team identified that the girls on their programmes were experiencing incredibly high levels of trauma (in 90%+ of cases) and they found that this was often generational: many of their parents (particularly mothers) were also scoring highly in the pre-programme trauma screening. The team also found some interesting gender differences in the contexts of adolescent family violence – for example, the ‘escalating’ type was very rare in girls, compared with boys. In response, the team developed a specific trauma-informed, gender-responsive intervention for adolescent girls who use violence towards family members. While the programme uses some modified versions of existing interventions, others are original. The team now always screen for trauma-related symptoms (the programme workers use the Trauma Recovery Scale (TRS) prior to any intervention work as they find it so helpful in informing their practice. 

The team have also recently developed a First Responder Protocol for those, particularly the police, who arrive at a crisis situation involving adolescent family violence and require guidance as to how to respond appropriately. Included in their protocol is: i) clear definitions to help first responders identify the violence, ii) a recommendation for the use of a ‘designated’ juvenile police officer to respond appropriately, and iii) a reminder of the importance of applying a developmentally-appropriate, trauma-informed and gender-responsive approach when responding to such families. 

I’m very much looking forward to hearing what the NEDFYS team does next.

For further information, please contact Viv Odell, Associate Director, NEDFYS. Email: vodell@addison-il.org

 

I very much welcome contributions to this website, and look forward to publishing material from other people engaged in this important work.

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A message of hope for 2020, Break4Change in Rochdale

When I sent out an invitation in November for people to write something for me, I never expected to receive such interesting contributions!  I’m thrilled to be able to start a new year with the first of these contributions from Emily Nickson-Williams, who I have been following on twitter after seeing some very positive comments about the work her team were engaged in around child to parent violence. Emily is the lead for the ‘Relationships Revolution’ at Rochdale Council.  She has worked in Children’s Services for the last 17 years and has pioneered a number of initiatives for vulnerable families.  Her work has been described as ‘inspirational’ and her more recent efforts developing work around the relationships agenda, including responses to child to parent violence and abuse, led to her receiving the Innovation Award in 2017. Emily brings us a letter from a parent who has attended one of the Break4Change programmes running as part of this work.

I think that for me this open letter is a message of hope.  Hope for other families who may be too afraid to come forward to speak to someone because of the fear of consequences from Children’s Services and the Police.  The message we would like to give families living in Rochdale is this… Continue reading

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#APVA: Change prompted by a Domestic Homicide Review

I am pleased to bring you this post from Neil Blacklock, Development Director at Respect, who has been following recent developments in Northumbria.

 

In November 2015, in Blyth Northumbria a mother was murdered by her 16-year son. The resulting Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) reported that safeguarding structures designed to identify and protect victims of domestic abuse were not attuned to pick up and respond to Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (APVA) and that agencies had not fully understood the risk that her son posed. Continue reading

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“Not a solution, but a system”: Adoption and Fostering Podcast interview with Delyth Evans

Another cracking podcast from the Adoption and Fostering Podcast team!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 26 features an interview with Delyth Evans, Service Manager at the Centre for Adoption and Support. Delyth and Al Coates talk about the experience of child to parent violence within adoptive families. I have been asked a lot recently about safety plans and so of particular interest to me were discussions about family safety planning and safe holding, and all within a context of safeguarding the whole family.

The Centre for Adoption Support offer a three stage support programme for families,

  • A 1 day workshop on child to parent violence
  • An introduction to the principles of NVR
  • A workshop on how to manage challenging behaviour at a practical level

and family safety plans are described as fundamental to the whole offer. The emphasis is very much on understanding the violence in context, rather than as a specific incident; and in supporting parents to find strategies to manage their child’s behaviour while keeping the whole family safe.

Well worth a listen!

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CPV survey: 1st impressions

At the end of November 2016, Al Coates, an adoptive parent and social worker, put out on social media a  survey asking parents about their experience of child to parent violence. You can read more about it here and here. He received 264 responses over a three week period, largely – unsurprisingly given the main mode of dissemination – from adoptive parents. The collation started straight away and a first paper was put out at the start of the new year. First Impressions is available from the CE&LT website, part of the University of Sunderland. Dr Wendy Thorley, of the University of Sunderland, is a member of what might broadly be termed the Steering committee for this project, and she has helped to edit the report.

The survey asked questions about a family’s experience of child to parent violence, and about the age at which it started, the impact on the family, and about the help that had been offered – or not. Continue reading

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Mutual Expectations – a charter for parents and local authority services

Always worth reminding ourselves about the hopes, expectations – and entitlements – of those we work with as professionals. This Charter has been developed by a partnership of parents and practitioners, as part of the work of Your Family, Your Voice Alliance: An alliance of families and professionals working together to transform the system. It aims to promote effective, mutually respectful partnership working between practitioners and families when children are subject to statutory intervention. Such intervention can involve child welfare and family justice, mental health, education and youth justice systems.

The Charter is written for parents, local authorities and their partner agencies and those working for them.

Follow the alliance on twitter @yrfamilyyrvoice.

I am grateful to The National IRO Managers Partnership for bringing it to wider attention.

Source: ‘Mutual Expectations – a charter for parents and local authority services’ – @yrfamilyyrvoice

 

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Who’s in Charge? Practitioners speak!

Who’s in Charge? is a nine week programme developed specifically to support parents who are experiencing violence and abuse from their children. Originally designed in Australia by Eddie Gallagher, Who’s in Charge? has more recently become the go-to programme in parts of south-east England – a testament to the recognition and success of a training team based at Awareness Matters in Suffolk. Just this month, the Who’s in Charge? programme has been awarded the CANparent quality mark:  a recognition of the effectiveness, professionalism and standards of governance displayed and evidenced.

Cathy Press and Carole Williams have offered the Facilitators training now for several years and have worked with professionals across domestic violence agencies, youth offending and children services; as well as the independent sector. In this short video, a number of practitioners talk about their experience of child to parent violence, and the impact this programme has had on the families they work with on a day to day basis.

Who’s in Charge? from Offshoot Films on Vimeo.

If you would like to know more about the programme, or about the facilitator training courses available, see the Awareness Matters website where you will find further information and contact details.

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