Child and Young Person Support
The principle aim of West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service (WLDAS) Children’s Service is to create a safe and trusting environment in which children are safe from harm. A child in this case is any child or young person aged 0 to 18 years, or up to the age of 25 if they are ‘LAC’ or ‘SEND’. The service is currently open to anyone living permanently or temporarily in the Lincolnshire area who are at risk of domestic abuse and/or whose children are at risk of poor outcomes due to the effects of domestic abuse. Specialist Domestic Abuse Workers are able to provide a family approach through our ‘family focus sessions’ with non-abusive parent and child/ren to rebuild bonds that have been broken down due to the effects of domestic abuse.
How Can Domestic Abuse Affect Children and Young People?
Children and young people who are exposed to domestic abuse often become emotionally distressed and experience persistently high levels of anxiety which they are unable to deal with. Children and young people may also feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless and confused – behaviours which can impact upon their progress, that could potentially hinder their development into later life.
Listed below are just a small amount of ways a child / young person could be affected by domestic abuse within the home;
- Children / young people are denied a positive role model
- Abuse can harm the Parent/child bond
- Children / young people can develop negative core beliefs about themselves
- Children / young people can be isolated from helpful sources of support
- A child / young person’s style of coping and survival may become problematic
- Children / young people can believe that victimization is inevitable or normal and develop rationalizations for the abuse.
What Work Do West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service Child / Young Persons Workers Do With Children?
The Child / Young Person Support Workers within refuge support children and young people with the effects of domestic abuse. Child / Young Person Support Workers aim to build and maintain relationships based on trust with the children they work with, in order to alleviate isolation, break down barriers, increase confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
Child / Young Person Support Workers within refuge at West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service currently provide:
- 1 to 1 sessions offering emotional and practical support to children and young people whether the domestic abuse is current or historical.
- This includes supporting the child/ren in settling into refuge accommodation, 1 to 1 support as above, establishing school, nursery places etc.
- Sibling/family groups – sibling and family group work is used to build bridges and communication between relationships damaged by domestic abuse. Consultation service to other agencies – this has included us sharing our knowledge and resources of domestic abuse to improve outcomes for children / young people.
- Raising awareness through child-focused community events – to publicise the service to as many as possible so they can access support if required.
Child / Young Person Support Workers within our Targeted Children’s Service at West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service:
- Targeted children’s service for children and young people where their parent is already receiving support.
- Referrals for this service will be primarily internal referrals by our specialist domestic abuse workers. ‘Family focus sessions’ will typically have been completed with the family prior to the referral to the child / young person workers and will be when there is a significant identified need for that child / young person.
- We will accept direct referrals only if the child is a LAC / SEND / SGO, and again where the child has been significantly affected by domestic abuse, or where the non-abusive parent is also willing to access the service to enable us to undertake a whole family approach to working with the affected individuals. We will also accept direct referrals if a young person is in / or has been in a domestic abuse relationship themselves.
- Further information will be available regarding this service in due course.
The statistics below highlight the need for the work of a Child / Young Person Support Worker as a form of intervention for the family, in order to provide them with practical and emotional support.
- At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic abuse
- Nearly three-quarters of children on a Child Protection Plan live in households where domestic abuse occurs
- In 75%-90% of incidents of domestic abuse children are in the same or the next room
- The link between child physical abuse and domestic abuse is high with estimates ranging between 30-66% depending on the study
The interventions provided by a child / young person support worker can be crucial in allowing children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse to access support to express and explore their feelings enabling them to move forward in their lives in a safe and productive manner.