The ground-breaking new programme for mothers in child protection measures

Updated: Jan 10

DV-ACTIONs new programme for mothers is ground-breaking in the domestic abuse sector. Read on to find out more.


DV-ACTION Programmes has launched a brand new blended learning programme designed specifically for mothers in child protection measures. This programme makes learning accessible and promotes lasting change.


Why is a new programme needed?


Most community domestic abuse programmes offer excellent education, support and advocacy to victims of violence and abuse. However, the needs of mothers in child protection measures are often complex, with enduring problems around adult attachments, the normalisation of abuse and the impact of their experiences on decision making in relation to risk and the safety of themselves and their children. In these cases, more intensive, challenging and focused work is needed in order to support lasting change.


Programmes for families in child protection also tend to have high attrition rates with parents often struggling with issues around ill health, substance misuse or practical issues such as childcare and finding the money and time to travel to programme locations. Parents can also struggle with programme material that is generic for one particular culture and with a learning style that is academic, not taking into account different learning styles and abilities.


Confidentiality rules also often preclude the reporting of progress to family courts, leaving professionals with a gap in their evidence, or even an assumption that engagement in programmes equates to a real change or reduction in risk.


DV-ACT experts have used their considerable experience after decades of working with vulnerable mothers to devise a programme that will help to solve a number of these issues that are a barrier to effective treatment.


So how does the DV-ACTION Programme solve these problems?


Our vulnerability programme solves these problems by:

  • putting the safety of the child at the centre of the intervention making them more appropriate to address child safeguarding concerns

  • providing one to one sessions with an experienced domestic abuse treatment worker to bring challenge and focus to the work

  • tailoring a bespoke programme of modules and topics to address the issues in the child protection plan for each specific case

  • involving the mother in creating the programme of work which helps to encourage a sense of agency and collaboration

  • creating content that can match the learning styles of the mother including interactive exercises, videos, audio clips and simplified language so that those who are not academic can still access the material

  • providing lifetime access to our online portal and providing a tablet to promote lifelong change and ongoing support

  • including sessions with an expert risk assessor who will complete a final report that can be used in court and detail the progress made.


What does the programme include?


The programme includes:

  • a bespoke programme of work devised in collaboration with a domestic abuse expert assessor, treatment worker and the mother

  • 11 weekly one to one treatment sessions with a dedicated treatment worker, completed using zoom or a similar remote video calling app

  • ongoing access to the DV-ACTION learning platform with topics tailored to the mother's treatment plan

  • an android tablet which will be theirs to keep following completion of the programme

  • a full final assessment report completed by an expert domestic abuse risk assessor


What topics will be covered in the programme?


The programme is particularly suitable for women where; there is an enduring emotional attachment to the abuser; the abuse has impacted their ability to make safe decisions, or they have a history of difficulties in permanently escaping the relationship.



To meet these needs the topics covered in the sessions will include subjects within 8 broad areas as follows:

  • Domestic abuse knowledge - covering subjects such as power and control, sexual abuse and coercive control.

  • Attachment - exploring reasons why the mother remained in the relationship, understanding the emotional attachment to the abuser and pressures to reconcile.

  • Children - with a focus on understanding the effects of abuse on the child and reparative parenting.

  • Safety planning - focusing on prioritising children's safety, crisis management and early warning signals.

  • Personal insight - discussing the impact of the abuse, exploring childhood experiences and reasons for vulnerability.

  • Moving forward - building self-esteem, how to work collaboratively with professionals and what to do when starting a new relationship.

  • Additional needs - this will cover specific needs not included in the above areas such as alcohol abuse, grieving and loss, the use of violent resistance and immigration concerns.


How does the programme work?


The programme takes place either after or alongside a full vulnerability assessment, completed by DV-ACT or another suitable domestic abuse expert assessor. A step by step guide to the programme would usually follow the guide below:


  1. When a referral for the programme is received the mother will be allocated a treatment worker who will contact the mother to arrange a pre-treatment meeting. At this initial meeting, the mother will devise a programme of work which will be tailored to the needs of the child protection plan, following directions from any assessments completed by domestic abuse experts. Where a DV-ACT assessment has not been completed this meeting will also be attended by an expert risk assessor allocated to the case.

  2. A safety plan will be completed by the treatment worker which will be uploaded to the platform for them to access any time.

  3. A tablet will be sent to the client to complete their treatment sessions and online learning on the DV-ACTION learning platform.

  4. A one to one session will be set up with a member of our programme team who will show them how to navigate the learning platform and answer any questions they might have.

  5. The mother will attend 10 further 1:1 sessions with their dedicated treatment worker.

  6. Alongside the treatment sessions, a new topic will unlock each week on the learning platform that will explore further the topics from that week's treatment sessions. DV-ACTs bespoke learning portal, designed by domestic abuse specialists, will be available on a 24/7 basis with clients able to access their individual programme, specially designed ‘homework’ exercises and an insight journal at times convenient to her.

  7. Upon completion of the 10 treatment sessions, an expert domestic abuse risk assessor will meet with the mother for 1 or 2 further sessions to complete a full final report that can be used in court proceedings.

  8. Once the programme and final assessment are completed further sessions will unlock on the learning platform to allow the mother to have continued access to ongoing learning and support.

For further information on the DV-ACTION learning platform please visit our post The DV-ACTION Bespoke Online Learning Platform.



How long will it take to complete?


The length of time that the programme takes is decided on a case by case basis and depends upon the needs of the mother and whether a final report is required urgently. Sessions are usually weekly so the programme can be completed in approximately 12 weeks with the assessment report filed within 2 weeks of programme completion.



What is included in the final report?


A detailed final report is provided following the conclusion of the work. For the preservation of objectivity, all reports are completed by assessors independent from the practitioner completing the work. This report will advise what the programme covered, whether the mother has met the targets outlined at the beginning of the work and recommendations for further work and a practical risk management plan. As this report is completed by an expert assessor it can be used with confidence in court proceedings – all DV-ACT assessors are experienced expert witnesses.



What is the cost of the programme?


The cost of the treatment programme will need to be met by the local authority, as the Legal Aid Agency does not fund treatment. Please contact us for further information regarding fees.



Further questions?


If you have any further questions about the programme or wish to make a referral please contact the programmes team at programmes@dvact.org or call on 0203 9678368. If you are a social worker and would like to discuss a specific case a call back can be arranged with one of our clinical managers.


About us


DV-ACT Programmes are a division of DV-ACT Ltd. DV-ACT comprises a team of domestic abuse experts, available throughout the UK, who provide assessments, consultancy training and treatment programmes to local authorities and the family courts. DV-ACT was formed with the aim of using our expertise to help safeguard children from abuse and this is at the heart of everything that we do.


You can find out more about us by visiting out blog post Who runs DV-ACTION Bespoke Programmes? or visit our main company website at dvact.org.