Researchers look

Erin Ghere

Two University researchers will spend the next few months working on a plan to better serve abused and neglected women and children in Hennepin County.
The Hennepin County Commissioners Board approved $12,000 to fund the project. After research, a pilot program will be designed to combine child welfare and domestic violence services in cases where both exist in a family situation.
Sandra Beeman and Jeffrey Edleson, both professors in the School of Social Work, will study the correlation between the maltreatment of children and spousal domestic abuse in the same household, said Tom Hayes, spokesman for Hennepin County.
Beeman and Edleson both also work at the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse, a program within the School of Social Work. They began working on the two-fold project in February and will continue until Sept. 30.
The first phase of the project, which involves reported cases of child maltreatment, is nearly complete. The duo has been compiling research to determine how often these cases interact with domestic violence situations in Hennepin County homes.
“Sometimes a child maltreatment allegation is made that on the surface doesn’t seem to involve domestic violence, and underneath that is the undiscovered violence,” said Philip Auclaire, a senior planner in the child maltreatment and protection department of Hennepin County Child and Family Services.
Child welfare services investigators then determine if any other household violence exists if it is not initially reported.
Auclaire said he worked on a local project recently where one-third of the child maltreatment cases involved domestic abuse as well.
The second part of the project uses the data to create a pilot program based on similar programs around the country, but one which is also specific to the county.
“Hennepin County has not addressed the issue before,” Beeman said. “They’re ready to do something unique and respond to some of the (domestic violence) issues.”
They will also talk to Hennepin County judges, probation officers, agencies and other officials to get their input on the pilot program, she said.