Domestic abuse interventions in children’s social care

This protocol is for the domestic abuse interventions in children’s social care feasibility study, an exploratory study helping to refine domestic abuse interventions linked to children's outcomes.


Feasibility study / In progress

Estimated completion

April 2023

Delivered by

For Baby’s Sake Trust; Early Years Alliance; Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) & Refuge; Survive and Thrive Integrated Children’s Service

This exploratory study will help refine domestic abuse interventions linked to children’s outcomes, in addition to exploring the feasibility of further scaled up evaluations in this space. 

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines domestic abuse as behaviours that consist of any of the following:

  1. Physical or sexual abuse
  2. Violent or threatening behaviour 
  3. Controlling or coercive behaviour
  4. Economic abuse
  5. Psychological, emotional, or other abuse

The act also recognises children as victims of domestic abuse if the child ‘sees or hears, or experiences the effects of, the abuse.’

There is a considerable amount of research demonstrating the negative impact of domestic abuse on children. Domestic abuse is also the most frequently cited reason for children being referred to children’s social care in England. 

The current evidence base on ‘what works’ in domestic abuse interventions for children is still a work in progress. There are few interventions that are shown to be effective, partly due to the difficulty of evaluation in this sector. Additionally, there is a lack of consensus amongst those who deliver interventions around which outcomes should be prioritised by services and how to measure them.

In order to address this gap, we put out a call for partners around England to work with us on this project. The key aims of the project are to:

  • Better understand the activities and impacts of interventions being delivered to reduce domestic abuse, including the mechanisms leading to intended or perceived outcomes
  • To explore the evidence of promise and acceptability of the interventions we’re working with
  • To explore the readiness for impact evaluation of the interventions we’re working with 

We are doing this by working closely with four interventions through theory of change development, desk research, interviews, focus groups, and gathering administrative data. The research will feed into the wider aims of improving the effectiveness of domestic abuse programmes and enhancing the wider evidence base on domestic abuse that can apply to other local areas and interventions. 

The final report and summary of the study are planned to be completed by spring 2023.