• Claire Verney

The Groundbreaking New Programme for Mothers in Child Protection

2022 sees the launch of DV-ACTs new programme for mothers. Ground-breaking in the domestic abuse sector this programme uses bespoke treatment packages alongside online learning. Read on to find out more.


Launching DV-ACTION Programmes

DV-ACT experts have used their decades of experience to develop the UK's first bespoke domestic abuse programme delivered remotely for mothers in child protection measures. The programme makes learning more accessible to clients and is designed to promote lasting change.


Why a new programme was needed



Most community domestic abuse programmes offer excellent education, support and advocacy to victims of violence and abuse. However, the needs of mothers in child protection measures are often complex, with enduring problems around adult attachments, the normalisation of abuse and the impact of their experiences on decision making in relation to risk and the safety of themselves and their children. In these cases, more intensive, challenging and focused work is needed in order to support lasting change.


Programmes for families in child protection also tend to have high attrition rates with parents often struggling with issues around ill health, substance misuse or practical issues such as childcare and finding the money and time to travel to programme locations. Parents can also struggle with programme material that is generic for one particular culture and with a learning style that is academic, not taking into account different learning styles and abilities.


Confidentiality rules also often preclude the reporting of progress to family courts, leaving professionals with a gap in their evidence, or even an assumption that engagement in programmes equates to a real change or reduction in risk.


DV-ACT experts have used their considerable experience with decades of working with vulnerable mothers to devise a programme that will help to solve a number of these issues that create a barrier to effective treatment.


Overcoming barriers to treatment


The new programme aims to solve these problems by:

  • putting the safety of the child at the centre of the intervention to address child safeguarding concerns

  • providing one to one sessions with an experienced domestic abuse treatment worker to bring focus to the work

  • tailoring a bespoke programme of modules and topics to address the issues in the child protection plan for each specific case

  • involving the mother in creating the programme of work helping to encourage a sense of agency and collaboration

  • creating content that matches the learning styles of the mother including interactive exercises, videos, audio clips and simplified language so that those who are not academic can still access the material

  • providing an android tablet and lifetime access to our online portal to overcome technical issues and offer ongoing support

  • including sessions with an expert risk assessor who will complete a final report that can be used in court to detail the progress made.


Programme delivery

The programme is delivered entirely remotely with online video calling and a purpose-built online learning platform. The programme includes:

  • a bespoke programme of work devised in collaboration with a domestic abuse expert assessor, treatment worker and the mother


  • 11 weekly one to one treatment sessions with a dedicated treatment worker, completed using zoom or a similar remote video calling app

  • ongoing access to the DV-ACTION learning platform with topics released each week focusing on areas identified in the mother's treatment plan

  • an android tablet

  • a full final assessment report completed by an expert domestic abuse risk assessor

  • Upon completion of the programme clients keep the tablet and access to the programme with many more resources unlocked to support them in the future with targeted information around healthy relationships, reparative parenting and increasing self-esteem and confidence.


Programme contents


The programme is particularly suitable for women where; there is an enduring emotional attachment to the abuser; the abuse has impacted their ability to make safe decisions, or they have a history of difficulties in permanently escaping the relationship.


To meet these needs the topics covered in the sessions will include subjects within 8 broad areas as follows:

  • Domestic abuse knowledge - covering subjects such as power and control, sexual abuse and coercive control.

  • Attachment - exploring relationship decisions, understanding the emotional attachment to the abuser and pressures to reconcile.

  • Children - with a focus on understanding the effects of abuse on the child and reparative parenting.

  • Safety planning - focusing on prioritising children's safety, crisis management and early warning signals.

  • Personal insight - discussing the impact of the abuse, exploring childhood experiences and reasons for vulnerability.

  • Moving forward - building self-esteem, how to work collaboratively with professionals and what to do when starting a new relationship.

  • Additional needs - this will cover specific needs not included in the above areas such as alcohol abuse, grieving and loss, the use of violent resistance and immigration concerns.

Online learning acts as homework to reinforce the learning in the one to one sessions. As well as the specific topics made available each week the learning platform also includes:


  • Clients personal safety plan - completed in the first session with the treatment worker this can be accessed at any time and updated whenever needed, including after the programme is completed

  • Calendar and links to your treatment sessions - The calendar provides reminders for treatment sessions and video links for each one to one session.

  • Access to a daily journal - this is to encourage reflection on the clients own experiences

  • General resources about domestic abuse - this will include information leaflets, links to support services, interesting news articles, videos, interviews, formal resources such as power and control wheels and music videos.

  • Mental health support - this section called my feelings includes breathing exercises, self-care resources, meditation videos and many more resources to help clients in their recovery.


Timescales


As is the case with all of DV-ACTs services we understand the need to complete work within the children's timescales while ensuring clients have the time and space to reflect and make changes.


Programmes start within 1-2 weeks depending upon the clients availability. The length of time that the programme takes is decided on a case by case basis and depends upon the needs of the mother and whether a final report is required urgently. Sessions are usually weekly so the programme can be completed in approximately 12 weeks with the assessment report filed within 2 weeks of programme completion.


More information


For more information on this Programme visit our new dedicated website at dvactprogrammes.org. Printable information sheets and brochures are also available on the website at https://www.dvactprogrammes.org/downloadable-information. You can also sign up for our email updates or contact us to be kept informed about this innovative new service.


About us


DV-ACT are a team of domestic abuse experts, available throughout the UK, who provide assessments, programmes, consultancy and training to local authorities and the family courts. Our experts have decades of experience working directly with domestic abuse perpetrators and victims, as specialist assessors and as expert witnesses in the family courts.


​DV-ACT was formed with the aim of using our expertise to help safeguard children from abuse, this is at the heart of everything that we do. To read more about us please visit our post - Who are DV-ACT?