"Fathers for Change"
Linda Madigan-Runlett, who oversees the Department's intimate partner violence programs, has been with the Department for 35 years and has seen the evolution first-hand.
"For a long time, neither the Department nor society believed that intimate partner violence (IPV) primary aggressors had an ability to change," Ms. Madigan-Runlett said, adding that child protection systems across the country have traditionally concentrated efforts on working with mothers. "Child protection had primarily held the mothers solely accountable for the children’s safety and responsible for the behaviors of the offender. Up until recently, the Department opened all cases in the name of the mother. The Department has made tremendous gains in recognizing the role of fathers and the resources they can bring to our work."
"Fathers for Change" is a component of IPV-FAIR that is used if there is a father in the family who is willing to engage in the treatment. If the father is unwilling, then IPV-FAIR offers a service focused on the mother and children called "Mothers and More," said Ms. Madigan-Runlett.
Fathers for Change was developed by Dr. Carla Stover, associate professor and clinical psychologist at the Yale Child Study Center, which piloted the program to local families before the Department began to fund it. Now there are six providers - one in each Department region - offering the service statewide. From January 2016 to February 2020, 373 father/mother pairs were referred by Department IPV Specialists in each regional office, said Dr. Stover.
The clinician offers treatment addressing the violence, and the family navigator handles assistance with basic needs, support and referrals to any other services the family may need, she said. The program typically lasts four to six months, which can be extended based on family needs.
Ms. Madigan-Runlett said IPV services are vital for any child protection agency because of how common IPV is among families reported for abuse and/or neglect. She said the Connecticut Children's Medical Center Injury Prevention Center, which works with DCF to provide evaluation, consultation and training, conducted a study showing that between 40 to 70 percent of families reviewed in the study had IPV present. "IPV has a significant impact on the health and welfare of the entire family," Ms. Madigan-Runlett said. “Working with the entire family impacted by IPV, especially including fathers, has made a dramatic difference in their lives. We needed to be more family and dad focused."