Supporting battered women and their children: Perspectives of battered mothers and child welfare professionals

Woochan S. Shim, Wendy L. Haight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This qualitative study explores the perspectives of child welfare professionals and battered women involved in the public child welfare system about interventions that support battered women and their children. In-depth, semi-structured, individual interviews with 17 mothers and 20 professionals revealed both converging and diverging perspectives on services provided by the public child welfare system. Both mothers and professionals stressed the importance of the provision of materially and emotionally supportive services, especially after women had severed their violent relationships. Mothers' and professionals' beliefs were discrepant in areas of family support; particularly, the appropriateness of focusing primarily on mothers and developing safety plans that separated the couple. Services that assume battered mothers have limited parenting capabilities, such as taking custody of a child and referring mothers to basic parenting classes, were controversial topics receiving some support and some criticism from both mothers and professionals. Findings suggest possible needs of battered women involved in the child welfare system, as well as topics requiring greater communication between mothers and child welfare professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-637
Number of pages18
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a grant from the children and Family Research Center, a collaboration between the University of Illinois School of Social Work and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Thank you to Mark Testa, Teresa Jacobsen, and Nicole Allen for their thoughtful comments on an earlier draft. Thank you to Steve Anderson for his technical support.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Child protective services
  • Child welfare
  • Client-worker relationships
  • Domestic violence
  • Permanence
  • Reunification


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