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About the Link Research Project

Faculty, students and staff at the University of Minnesota are conducting a series of studies of families in which both mothers are being abused and children are either abused or exposed to their mothers' abuse. The studies seek to understand how these events co-occur in families and how both informal and formal social systems respond. The overall goal of this multi-phase project is to help develop new and empirically-based interventions where both mothers and children are affected by domestic violence. The projects are housed in the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse in the School of Social Work on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota.

The project has four phases to date:

You can find articles, organizations and links related to Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Child Exposure and Child Welfare on MINCAVA's Electronic Clearinghouse.

Phase I: Understanding the Families and Social Responses to Them

The first phase of the research, funded by the Allina Foundation (Minnesota) with additional support from the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, is complete. This study examined data for 172 families: 95 families for which police had filed child abuse incident reports and adult domestic assault incident reports, and 77 other families for which police had filed child maltreatment reports but had no documentation of domestic assaults. Exploring differences between the two groups of families, we found that dual-violence families were more likely to include an unrelated male in the household, to involve a neglect allegation, and to include perpetrator substance abuse. Child protection workers assessed dual-violence families to be at higher risk and were more likely to open the case for child protection services. Among open cases, however, dual-violence families received fewer services but were more likely to be referred to the county attorney.

In addition, several dozen battered women’s advocates and child protection workers were interviewed regarding their intervention with dual-violence cases. These focus groups provided an in-depth understanding of both the barriers to collaboration and the visions for working more effectively toward family safety. A final report is now available on this aspect of the study. This research serves as a first step toward collaborative initiatives aimed at increasing the safety of both battered women and their children.

Reports on this phase:

Beeman, S., Hagemeister, A. & Edleson, J.L. (2001). Case assessment and service receipt in families experiencing both child maltreatment and woman battering. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 16, 437-458.

Beeman, S. & Edleson, J.L. (2000). Collaborating on family safety: Challenges for children's and women's advocates. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 3(1), 345-358. Co-published in R. Geffner & P.G. Jaffe,(Eds.) Children exposed to family violence: Intervention, prevention, and policy implications. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.

Mbilinyi, L., Hagemeister, A.K., Edleson, J.L. and Beeman, S.K. (2000). Social work response to the co-occurrence of child maltreatment and woman abuse in families. In N.T. Tan & E. Envall (Eds.). Social work around the world (pp. 152-164). Switzerland: International Federation of Social Workers.

Phase II: Understanding the Experience of Families

In the next phase we explored the development of co-occurring violence and exposure and how supportive services were utilized by battered mothers. The David & Lucile Packard Foundation supported this two year project with additional support from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. This study collected direct reports on real-life events and went beyond earlier research by eliciting information on a larger array of family and contextual factors that may account for variation in children’s responses. Anonymous telephone interviews with 114 battered mothers in four metropolitan areas elicited detailed information from women on their children’s responses to the violence being committed against the mothers. One quarter of the mothers reported that their children were physically involved in the events. In addition, mothers with less stable financial, social, and living situations at the time of the interview reported their children to have intervened more during the past violent incidents. We make recommendations for a greater emphasis on careful assessment of children’s involvement in domestic violence incidents and on assisting mothers to achieve economic stability as well as safety.

Reports on this phase:

Edleson, J.L., Mbilinyi, L.F., Beeman, S.K. & Hagemeister, A.K. (2003). How children are involved in adult domestic violence: Results from a four city telephone survey. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18(1), 18-32.

Mbilinyi, L.F., Edleson, J.L., Beeman, S.K. & Hagemeister, A.K. (2007). What happens to children when their mothers are battered? Results from a four city anonymous telephone survey. Journal of Family Violence, 22, 309-317.

Lee, H.Y., Lightfoot, E. & Edleson, J.L. (2008). Child protection services and adult domestic violence: The role of the child's biological relationship to the perpetrator. Manuscript submitted for publication. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota.

Phase III: Studying Co-Occurring Domestic Violence and Exposure in Child Welfare Caseloads

This phase of the project focused on examining child welfare caseloads in a number of state and national datasets to better understand how cases involving domestic violence exposure of children are assessed and served by child welfare agencies. Studies of Washington State and national datasets have been completed and were supported by a variety of sources including the National Institute of Justice, the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, and the US Department of Health & Human Services.

Special issues and monographs related to this phase:

Edleson, J.L. & Malik, N. (2008). Collaborating for family safety: Results from the Greenbook multi-site evaluation (Special issue). Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23.

Kelleher, K., Barth, R.J. & Edleson, J.L. (2005). Special issue on domestic violence and child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 27.

Schechter, S. & Edleson, J.L. (2000). Domestic violence and children: Creating a public response. New York, NY: Open Society Institute's Center on Crime, Communities and Culture.

Schechter, S. & Edleson, J.L. (1999). Effective intervention in domestic violence and child maltreatment: Guidelines for policy and practice. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Edleson, J.L. (1999). Interventions and issues in the co-occurrence of child abuse and domestic violence (Special issue). Child Maltreatment, 4(2).

Reports related to this phase:

English, D.J., Edleson, J.L. & Herrick, M.E. (2005). Domestic violence in one state's child protective caseload: A study of differential case dispositions and outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 1183-1201.

Kohl, P.L., Edleson, J.L., English, D.J. & Barth, R.P. (2005). Domestic violence and pathways into child welfare services: Findings from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 1167-1182.

Edleson, J.L. (2006). A response system for children exposed to domestic violence: Public policy in support of best practices. In Feerick, M. & Silverman, G.B.(Eds.). Children Exposed to Violence (pp. 191-211). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Edleson, J.L. (2006). Emerging responses to children exposed to domestic violence. Harrisburg, PA: VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence/Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (Online at http://www.vawnet.org).

Edleson, J.L., Gassman-Pines, J. Y& Hill, M.B. (2006). Defining child exposure to domestic violence as neglect: Minnesota's difficult experience. Social Work, 51, 167-174.

Hazen, A.L., Connelly, C.D., Edleson, J.L., Kelleher, K.J., Landsverk, J.A., Coben, J.H., Barth, R.P., McGeehan, J., Rolls, J.A. & Nuszkowski, M.A. (2007). Assessment of intimate partner violence by child welfare services. Child and Youth Services Review, 29, 490-500.

PHASE IV: Assessing Child Exposure to Domestic Violence

This phase is currently underway and is supported by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare. We have developed a new assessment tool called the Child Exposure to Domestic Violence (CEDV) Scale. We have developed a specific website to support this measure where we have made available the CEDV Scale, a User Manual and two articles (below) related to this phase of the project. We are now surveying a statewide group of child welfare workers in Minnesota on their possible use of the CEDV Scale and expect to develop a training program as a result of this survey.

Reports on this phase:

Edleson, J.L., Ellerton, A.L., Seagren, E.A., Schmidt, S.O., Kirchberg, S.L. & Ambrose, A.T. (2007). Assessing child exposure to adult domestic violence. Children and Youth Services Review, 29, 961-971.

Shin, N. & Edleson, J.L. (2008). A new scale for assessing child exposure to domestic violence. Protecting Children (forthcoming).

Edleson, J.L., Shin, N. & Johnson, K.K. (2008). Measuring children's exposure to domestic violence: The development and testing of the Child Exposure to Domestic Violence (CEDV) Scale. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 502-521.

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