Abstract

Domestic violence is a regularly occurring problem in child welfare cases, and, as a result of feminist research and activism, it is arguably taken more seriously now than at any time in the past. This paper will argue that, despite the influence of feminist understandings of and solutions to domestic violence in child welfare policy and practice, the most common way of dealing with cases remains problematic for the poor women of color who are the main “clients” of the child welfare system. These women are likely to be blamed for violence and are vulnerable to a loss of child custody, while their autonomy is limited by a narrow “one-size-fits-all” approach to their cases. This situation is partly due to attitudes about domestic violence and stereotypes of poor women of color that blame women and hold them almost solely accountable for the risks and/or harm their children face as a result of violence. However, it is also attributable to the structure of the child welfare system with its narrowly defined mandate and prevailing assumptions about the primacy of mothers in the care and well-being of children and the commonly used “parent-as-problem” approach to understanding harm and risk to children. That this situation continues raises further doubts about the wisdom of relying solely on state interventions to deal with domestic violence in the lives of poor women of color.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2326-0947
Print ISSN
2326-0939
Pages
pp. 58-87
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-25
Open Access
No
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