Reaction Cassandra Richardson
‘Being accommodated as a child in a shelter for victims of domestic violence always causes a negative impact on the child’s development.’
‘There is serious negative impact on child development for children who are witnesses or who are the direct target of domestic violence. When children are placed in a shelter with their mother, developmental concerns for the child are valid, however not absolute, or not always the case. Child developmental concerns are higher if the child is placed in foster care, so removed from the parental home without a parent. Children can come out of a sheltering with victimized parent situation ok, but not without a care team putting in the work to address concerns.
What I have found in my experience working with children sheltering with their moms in domestic violence shelters is that the road is often tough to help children adjust, but very possible with good outcomes for both mom and child. A different living environment, maybe a new school and having to make new friends, and being confused about having to leave the home where the abusive parent to whom the child may be attached needs to be addressed with intent and care to minimize the negative effects on child development. Family and one-on-one therapy for mom and child are necessary. Also, the reason given to children for ‘why do I need to be in a shelter’ should be clearly explained, provided appropriate to age, and should be trauma informed.
As much as possible efforts should be made for children to stay in the home and support be provided to the family, but when abuse and neglect are of significant concern, providing shelter to the child and the victimized parent should be sought.’
Cassandra Richardson MSW/MA
Consultant performing social research and clinical social work.