Defending Childhood

Publications

Defending Childhood

Defending Childhood

In order to address the high prevalence of children’s exposure to violence, in 2010, eight sites around the country were selected by the U.S. Department of Justice for the Defending Childhood Demonstration Program. This national initiative aims: 1) to prevent children’s exposure to violence; 2) to mitigate the negative impact of such exposure when it does occur; and 3) to develop knowledge and spread awareness about children’s exposure to violence, both within and beyond the chosen pilot sites. The eight demonstration sites are:

Cuyahoga County, OH
Grand Forks, ND
Boston, MA
Chippewa Cree Tribe, Rocky Boy’s Reservation, MT
Rosebud Sioux Tribe, SD
Shelby County, TN
Multnomah County, OR
Portland, ME

The National Institute of Justice funded the Center for Court Innovation to evaluate the Defending Childhood Demonstration Program. The evaluation produced a series of reports describing how stakeholders at six sites organized themselves to create and implement a strategic plan; detailing each site’s model; and clearly delineating lessons and actionable recommendations for other jurisdictions that might be interested in replicating the process. 

Protect, Heal, Thrive: Lessons Learned from the Defending Childhood Demonstration Program
By Rachel Swaner, Lama Hassoun Ayoub, Elise Jensen, and Michael Rempel

This report provides a cross-site synthesis of implementation strategies, lessons learned, and recommendations drawn from six of the Demonstration Program sites—including separate, crisply described recommendations for other jurisdictions, for tribal jurisdictions in particular, for funding agencies, for technical assistance providers, and for evaluators. The report includes a 10-page executive summary for readers interested in an accessible overview. A number of summary charts provided throughout the report offer an efficient digest of the major strategies pursued by each site and of specific evidence-based, promising, or other programs and practices. (May 2015)

An Outcome Evaluation of the Defending Childhood Demonstration Program
By Rachel Swaner, Lama Hassoun Ayoub, Elise Jensen, Michael Rempel, and Dana Kralstein

This outcome evaluation presents the results of three distinct research strategies to assess the impact of local sites' community awareness campaigns, trainings offered to professionals, and treatment and prevention strategies related to children's exposure to violence. (October 2015)

“We Have the Power to Stop the Violence”: A Process Evaluation of Cuyahoga County’s Defending Childhood Initiative
By Rachel Swaner

The Cuyahoga County Defending Childhood Initiative was unique in the creation of a fully integrated, county-wide screening, assessment, and service system for children ages 0-18 who have been exposed to violence and are experiencing trauma symptoms. Smaller initiative components included two targeted prevention programs in high-risk neighborhoods; community awareness and education campaigns; and professional training activities. (April 2015)

Building a Safer Tomorrow: A Process Evaluation of Grand Forks County Defending Childhood Initiative
By Elise Jensen

Safer Tomorrows, the Grand Forks Defending Childhood Initiative, was unique in its implementation of universal prevention programming in Grand Forks County schools, extending to all students (pre-kindergarten through high school) in public, private, and rural schools. The programs addressed multiple forms of violence (e.g., bullying, dating violence); strategies for preventing violence; fostering healthy positive relationships with others; and improving personal social-emotional health. Other components of Safer Tomorrows included trauma-informed treatment for children exposed to violence; community awareness strategies tailored to the local sports culture; and training of professionals on topics related to children’s exposure to violence and trauma. (April 2015)

Tackling Urban Inequalities: A Process Evaluation of the Boston Defending Childhood Initiative
By Lama Hassoun Ayoub

The Boston Defending Childhood Initiative centralized the importance of racial/social justice and health equity during planning and implementation in nearly every approach for addressing children’s exposure to violence. Specific strategies included funding community health centers to provide treatment for children exposed to violence; funding local community organizations to implement family nurturing programs; creating a youth-led and produced web series to raise awareness about violence; and engaging professionals (e.g., through “learning communities”) in long-term training on topics related to trauma-informed care and evidence-based therapeutic interventions. (April 2015)

Love One Another and Take Care of Each Other: A Process Evaluation of the Rocky Boy’s Children Exposed to Violence Project
By Lama Hassoun Ayoub

Rocky Boy’s Children Exposed to Violence Project was informed by a commitment to culture as prevention—reconnecting youth and families with the Chippewa Cree language, culture, and traditions. The primary components of the initiative were advocacy and case management for children and families coping with exposure to violence; crisis intervention services; treatment referrals; traditional healing ceremonies; and community awareness and education activities. (April 2015)

Nawicakiciji – Woasniye – Oaye Waste: A Process Evaluation of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Defending Childhood Initiative
By Rachel Swaner
 

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Defending Childhood Initiative incorporated the Lakota way of life in all of its programming and approaches and viewed bringing back Lakota culture as a form of prevention work. The Rosebud DCI model focused heavily on providing case management services for children who have been exposed to violence. Staff facilitated traditional healing ceremonies and made referrals to culturally appropriate treatment, as well provided court- and school-based advocacy. Additionally, the initiative focused on bringing awareness about children’s exposure to violence and available resources to the different communities and schools on the reservation. Finally, staff worked to revise tribal legislation and policy to be more responsive to children’s exposure to violence. (April 2015)

Through the NOVA Door: A Process Evaluation of Shelby County’s Defending Childhood Initiative
By Elise Jensen and Rachel Swaner

The Shelby County Defending Childhood Initiative, known as the Network for Overcoming Violence and Abuse (NOVA), used a place-based approach to target children and families exposed to violence in three apartment complexes in the Frayser and Hickory Hill neighborhoods of Memphis. The initiative placed staff in apartment complexes to conduct outreach to children and families in need, and, through case management and advocacy, to refer families to necessary services for therapeutic treatment. Other project components included community awareness campaigns, professional training on topics such as children’s exposure to violence and data confidentiality, and the creation of a shared data management system. (April 2015)

The U.S. Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative: Formative Evaluation of the Phase I Demonstration Program 
By Rachel Swaner and Julia Kohn

This report provides an overview of the seven-month needs assessment and strategic planning process from Phase I of the Defending Childhood Demonstration Program. It summarizes the proposed strategies and collaborative structure of the eight sites, outlining common themes and unique approaches. (November 2011)

Listen to an interview with Center for Court Innovation researchers

Listen to an Interview with the Cuyahoga County Defending Childhood Initiative team

Listen to an Interview with the Grand Forks County Defending Childhood Initiative team

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