Working with Survivors who have open cases in the Child Welfare System

Domestic Violence/Inter-Personal Violence/Family Violence is a well-documented risk factor for child abuse. Unfortunately, this leaves an increasing number of survivors involved in the child welfare system. In order to positively impact lives in this system, advocates must be equipped with the knowledge, resources and tools to navigate complex issues in this intersection. To help survivors secure the best outcome for their family, it is crucial they’re supported as parents who promote resiliency in their children. TCFV provides this knowledge base and tools to those working with survivors involved in the child welfare system.

TERMS: Domestic Violence (DV), Inter-Personal Violence (IPV), Family Violence (FV), Child Protective Investigations (CPI), Child Protective Services (CPS), Adult Protective Services (APS), Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS: Includes CPI/CPS/APS)



Survivor Rights Card

The survivor rights card provides information about the rights and responsibilities of parents who are survivors of family violence in the Child Welfare (CPI/CPS) system. It includes tips for dealing directly with Child Welfare (CPI/CPS), and information about helpful organizations you can call during an investigation.

Task Force Report on the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect

In 2011-2012, the Task Force to Address the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect was established to study the existing relationship and make recommendations on best practices and policy needs for the child welfare system (CPI/CPS) and family violence programs. The recommendations in their final report are currently being implemented.

Greenbook Initiative

This publication assists child welfare (CPI/CPS), domestic violence service providers and family courts in working together to serve families experiencing violence.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between DFPS and HHSC-funded Family Violence Centers

In 2018, the Memorandum of Understanding between DFPS and HHSC-funded family violence centers was updated and sent to all HHSC-funded programs and DFPS leadership. This MOU details expectations of how CPI/CPS/APS and HHSC-funded family violence centers should handle issues such as: reporting/referrals, confidentiality limits, cross training, liaison systems, and conflict resolution.

The signed version of the MOU will continue to be required during monitoring by Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Family Violence Program contract managers. Programs must maintain their own copies for monitoring purposes. The signed MOU remains valid until another official update is developed and released.

MOU Guidance Document

In 2012, HHSC, TCFV and DFPS agreed upon this guidance document which provides an interpretation and best practices to CPI/CPS/APS and HHSC-funded family violence centers for implementing the MOU in local communities.

Working with Child Welfare (CPI/CPS)

Every HHSC-funded family violence center and each DFPS region have a liaison who coordinates with each other and have the role of clarifying confidentiality limits, arranging cross-trainings and problem-solving when issues arise. Download our contact list here to find your Domestic Violence and DFPS liaison. If you need additional assistance, contact TCFV’s Policy Department at 1.800.525.1978.


Domestic Violence and Shelters: What Happens to my Child? | HHSC and CPI/CPS have created a brochure for survivors of family violence who are in shelter and involved in CPI/CPS.

CPS Policy Handbook Online | The CPI/CPS Handbook contains the policies and procedures that CPI/CPS workers must follow through all phases of a CPS/CPS case.

Administrative Review of an Investigative Finding (ARIF) | CPI/CPS must give parents a letter explaining their final decision and whether parents have been given a finding as a perpetrator of child abuse and neglect. If a parent does not agree with CPI/CPS’ decision, they can ask for an ARIF within 45 days of getting the finding letter. For more information about an ARIF see TAC Rule 700.516.


Protective Capacity

Resources for Supporting Survivors’ Protective Capacity

Research has shown that developing the quality of a child’s relationship with the non-battering parent is the single most important factor in a child’s emotional recovery from exposure to domestic violence*. Advocates play a vital role in helping survivors identify their strengths, protective actions and how to foster a healthy parent-child relationship.

Safety Planning when Children are Involved explores safety planning options including planning for safety when there is violence in the home, planning for unsupervised visits, planning for safe custody exchanges and safety planning while pregnant.

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health provides training and resources for advocates supporting children, parents and caregivers impacted by domestic violence.

K.I.S.S. (A Kid Is So Special) is a 12-week child-focused curriculum developed to strengthen the mother-child bond by recognizing the impact domestic violence has on children.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s  Domestic Violence Collaborative Group has created a series of fact sheets to help parents understand how children may react to domestic violence and how to best help them feel safe and valued to develop personal strengths.

Amazing brain series and booklets provides concise information about how trauma affects children’s brains and how parents and others can help.

Child Welfare Information Gateway provides resources for building parental resiliency.

Bancroft L, Silberman J., The Batterer as Parent. 2002 Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California

Building Resiliency

Building Resiliency in Children Exposed to Family Violence

Tips for advocates working with children exposed to domestic violence explains what you can do to support them and the survivor parent.

Honor Our Voices is an online learning module that provides the opportunity to see domestic violence through the eyes of children. This website also has a practice guide for advocates when responding to children exposed to domestic violence.

National Center Traumatic Stress Network provides resources on how the trauma of domestic violence affects children and how advocates can provide intervention:


Texas Council on Family Violence
PO Box 163865
Austin, TX 78716

P 512.794.1133
F 512.685.6397

© 2020 Texas Council on Family Violence