A study of collaboration between child and family services and battered women's shelters

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Hildebrand, Mary Anne
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Research has shown that domestic violence and child abuse often occur in the same family. Practitioners in child protection and battered women's shelters, therefore, frequently find themselves involved with the same clients. However, differing historical developments, mandates and approaches of these two movements have created obstacles to working together. More recently proponents of collaboration between these two services have demonstrated some success in overcoming barriers and in working together to provide greater safety for women and children. This s udy examines the working relationship between front-line workers in child protection and battered women's shelters in rural settings as they relate to each other over common clients and cases. A qualitative study which uses the phenomenological method was undertaken with practitioners from these two services as subjects of the study. Workers in the two fields described their understanding of collaboration and related their stories of success and failure at collaborating with each other. The study demonstrated that differences in mandatory and voluntary services determined differences in approaches to working with families. These differences sometimes caused conflict between the workers and made collaboration difficult.