The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) provides intensive support to certified domestic violence centers, Community Based Care (CBC) agencies, and local Department of Children and Families (DCF) offices. After years of partnership, the DCF Domestic Violence Program Office and FCADV possess a clear understanding that early involvement of domestic violence advocates in cases where child abuse and domestic violence co-occur can reduce risk to children by providing immediate resource and referral information and safety planning for the non-offending parent and their children. The ultimate goal of the CPI project is to bridge the gap between child welfare and domestic violence service providers to enhance family safety, create permanency for children, reduce removals of children from non-offending parents, and hold batterers accountable.
The co-located advocates work from an empowerment-based philosophy; therefore, they are skilled at identifying strengths. Advocates’ expertise in this area assists survivors of domestic violence/non-offending parents to increase protective factors already existing in the home. The co-located advocates assist Child Protective Investigators (CPIs) and case managers in clearly identifying batterers’ patterns of coercive control, gathering information to address harmful batterer behaviors, and assess the impact of that behavior on the children. Domestic violence experts widely agree that positive family outcomes are more likely to occur when child welfare workers partner with the non-offending parent in their efforts to protect the children while holding the batterer accountable.
In 2015, FCADV was allocated additional funding by the Legislature to expand the CPI Project to all 67 counties in Florida. There are currently a total of 40 certified domestic violence centers that participate in FCADV’s CPI Project. FCADV has supported each domestic violence center, together with the partnering CPI Unit, to develop Memorandums of Understanding, referral documents, and releases that are necessary for information sharing. Through intensive technical assistance and partnership, FCADV has identified best practices in the interest of children and families from these projects and has shared them throughout the state to support replication and sustainability.