Skip to main content
Rural Health Information Hub

Co-location of Child and Family Services

Both substance abuse and domestic violence are common issues faced by families involved in the child protective services (CPS) system. Domestic violence and CPS agencies often serve the same families, yet lack sufficient coordination to offer integrated services to victims of family violence. To improve outcomes for children and ensure safety for their families, service providers are emphasizing the importance of cross-system collaboration between substance abuse services, domestic violence programs, child welfare organizations, and other related systems. Rural communities are achieving this cross-collaboration by co-locating domestic violence and substance abuse specialists in child and family service agencies.

Examples of States that Co-Locate Services

  • The New York State Office of Children and Family Services is co-locating domestic violence advocates in CPS offices across the state. Domestic violence advocates assist referred clients and collaborate with CPS case workers on case consultations and joint home visits.
  • The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) also places domestic violence advocates in Child Welfare and Self-Sufficiency offices. Domestic violence advocates may provide crisis intervention and ongoing advocacy services, including safety planning, system navigation assistance, and referrals. Through co-locating these services, Oregon DHS aims to increase the number of children who safely remain with non-offending parents and remove barriers to self-sufficiency for families affected by domestic violence.
  • The Division of Family Services (DFS) within Delaware's Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families co-locates substance abuse counselors in each of the four regional DFS offices. Co-locating these substance abuse specialists encourages early identification of parental substance abuse and increases treatment service referrals. Counselors engage with DFS clients who may have issues with substance abuse and offer consultations, evaluations, referrals, and case management services.

Considerations for Implementation

Co-locating domestic violence and substance abuse specialists in child and family services offices will not ensure that staff communicate about their cases. Successful collaboration requires workflow redesign to ensure that staff share case information and coordinate services. Rural communities implementing co-location programs for domestic violence advocates and substance abuse specialists should be aware of state certification requirements and policies surrounding home visits. Some programs that co-locate domestic violence advocates in child and family services offices are supported through Federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act funds.

Resources to Learn More

The NJ and NY Initiatives on DV Advocates Co-Located in Local Child Protective Offices
This webinar describes implementation factors for a program that co-located domestic violence advocates in child protective service offices in New York and New Jersey.
Organization(s): Family Violence Prevention & Services Program, Family & Youth Services Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Futures Without Violence
Date: 3/2014

Substance Abuse Specialists in Child Welfare Agencies and Dependency Courts: Considerations for Program Designers and Evaluators
This guide provides information about programs that co-locate substance abuse specialists in child welfare agencies and dependency courts, including descriptions about collaborative structures and lessons learned about program design.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau
Date: 2010

Working Together, a Desk Guide: Domestic Violence Advocates Co-Located at DHS
This guide provides a comprehensive overview of co-located domestic violence advocacy within the Oregon Department of Human Services.
Organization(s): The Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Oregon Department of Justice
Date: 9/2017