A National Study of the Integration
of Domestic Violence Assessment
Into State Child Welfare Practice
LINDA G. MILLS
CARRIE J. PETRUCCI
The link between domestic violence and child abuse is now well established in the literature (American Humane Association, 1994; Bowker, Arbitell, & McFerron, 1988; Edleson, 1999; Hart, 1992; Hotaling & Sugarman, 1986; Lyon, 1999; McKay, 1994; Mills, 1998a; O'Keefe, 1995; Stark & Flitcraft, 1988; Straus & Gelles, 1986; Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980; Zorza, 1995). Despite the overlap of these two abuses, and the obvious practice implications posed when child protective services (CPS) workers detect domestic violence in a family with which they are working, little research has been done to explore the extent to which child protective agencies have integrated domestic violence into their actual assessment practices. Research generally focuses on efforts to train CPS workers to be sensitive to issues related to domestic violence (Aron & Olson, 1997a, 1997b; Fleck-Henderson & Krug, 1997; Magen, Conroy, Hess, Panciera, & Simon, 1995; Mills, 1998a; Mills et al., 2000).
Only one study to date has examined the extent to which domestic violence has been integrated into CPS assessment forms. In 1998, Mills (1998b) analyzed data from the 58 counties in California to determine the extent to which CPS risk assessment instruments have incorporated factors related to domestic violence. Mills found that many counties in California had not incorporated domestic violence into their assessment forms and that no counties had taken explicit steps to integrate the mother's needs into their assessment forms. This national study builds on that work and analyzes as