U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Communities Working Together To Help Children Exposed to Violence: Findings from Phase I of the Safe Start Initiative

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2011
4 pages
This report presents the program developments, outcomes, and recommendations derived from the demonstration sites involved in Phase I of the Federal Safe Start Initiative (SSI), which involves national, State, and local public and private agencies in a cooperative effort to prevent and reduce childhood exposure to violence and its effects.
The demonstration sites, which were funded by the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, committed themselves to developing and implementing innovative policies and practices that would achieve the goals of the SSI. A national evaluation found that the demonstration sites had developed partnerships that created opportunities to identify, screen, and refer for treatment children exposed to violence; to integrate services across sectors; to increase public awareness of the issue; to improve the capacity of service providers; and to improve agency and provider cultural competence. The outcome evaluation determined that the efforts of the demonstration sites have reduced children's exposure to violence, their trauma-related symptoms when exposure occurs, and parental stress. In addition, they improved child and parent functioning. Five policy and practice recommendations emerged from Phase I of the SSI. First, expand the definition of violence and its impact on children and families. Second, expand service concepts for families beyond the medical/mental health model to include housing, information on child and family development, safety planning, and crisis intervention. Third, develop protocols and adopt practices for screening and referring children exposed to violence to appropriate services. Fourth, establish working relationships with community service providers in order to increase access to children exposed to violence and widen the community support system. Fifth, develop and implement training protocols in each agency to increase practitioners' capacity to screen, identify, and respond appropriately to the needs of children exposed to violence.

Date Published: October 1, 2011