Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Their Children

Information Memorandum: CCDF-ACF-IM-2010-02

Publication Date: October 29, 2010

UPDATE: A final rule Visit disclaimer page based on the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 was published on September 30, 2016.

To: Head Start and Early Head Start Grantees; Child Care and Development Fund Administrators

Subject: Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Their Children

Information: The purpose of this Information Memorandum is to provide Head Start programs and Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) grantees with information about domestic violence.  This information is provided by the Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care in partnership with the Division of Family Violence Prevention in the Family and Youth Services Bureau of the Administration of Children, Youth and Families.  Related resources and web links are provided throughout this Information Memorandum.

October is domestic violence awareness month, and it reminds us to ensure that young children and their families who are experiencing domestic violence receive the help they need.  Relationships with caring and supportive adults provide a protective resource for parents and children who have experienced family violence, and Head Start and child care providers are well positioned to provide this kind of support.

In our Nation, far too many families experience domestic violence.

  • One in every four women and one in every 13 men have experienced domestic violence during his or her lifetime.
  • Domestic violence is the second leading cause of death for pregnant women, and some 25 to 50 percent of adolescent mothers experience partner violence before, during, or just after their pregnancy.
  • By the age of 17, at least 27 percent of children nationwide have witnessed domestic violence in their own families, and approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year.
  • In 30 to 60 percent of families where either child abuse or domestic violence is present, child abuse and domestic violence co-occur.

Far too many families participating in early childhood programs are also affected by domestic violence.  A 2002 study using a nationally representative sample of Head Start programs, for example, found that 17 percent of enrolled children were exposed to domestic violence. Children may very well experience this violence themselves, but even when they are not directly injured, the exposure to these traumatic events can cause social, emotional and behavioral difficulties. Child care providers may often see early indications of children’s stress or trauma through the behavior of young children in their care.  Child care providers can support the child during times of stress and can make hotline and other domestic violence information available to parents.

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