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Support for children affected by DA

Action for Children report

05 December 2019
Support for children affected by DA

Action for Children has published a report of research looking into the impact on children of domestic abuse (DA) and the availability of support for affected children. Researchers at the University of Stirling conducted in-depth interviews with representatives from 30 local authorities, and completed desk-based analysis of 50 local authority websites. Analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study was also used to assess the impact on children over time of experiencing parental DA. Recent figures show that 831,000 children in England and Wales are living in households where DA has been reported – analysis in this study shows up to 692 children a day are being assessed as at risk of DA in England; the true figure may be higher as not all cases are known, or reported, to local authorities.

Key findings in the report include:

  • Children faced barriers to accessing support in over two thirds of local authorities interviewed.
  • Four of the 30 local authorities interviewed did not have DA support services available for children.
  • In 11 of the 30 areas interviewed, access to support services was restricted by postcode.
  • 19 of 30 local authorities had services for children, but these depended on time-limited funding so future provision was uncertain.
  • In two-thirds of local authorities, children’s access to services depended on a parent’s engagement with the service.
  • 58% of the 50 local authority websites surveyed had no information on services for children or young people, or signposted to national helplines and websites.

The report’s recommendations include calling for the new government to introduce legislation to tackle DA which specifically recognises children’s needs, and strengthening the definition of harm in the Children Act 1989 to recognise the impact of coercive and controlling behaviour on children. Action for Children also recommend introducing a properly-funded statutory duty on local authorities in England to provide support to all affected children, and addressing the current ‘patchy and piecemeal’ provision of services for children.

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