Posted: September 19th, 2022

Eccovia is the company we are doing research for. We need to type a literature report for caseworkers and victims of domestic violence. Literature search topics from initial meeting: Focus of Study: Caseworkers: Research to see if information on the fol

LiteratureSearchtopics xCloud-basedsoftwaretohelpHubbardCountySocialServ.PDFContentServer2 ContentServer3 WhenChildWelfareCaseworkersIntervene_DoWomenSurv.PDF1-s2.0-S1752928X14001243-main 0730888410373331 Mennicke2019_Article_ItSTrickyIntimatePartnerViolen ContentServer1
 

 Eccovia is the company we are doing research for. We need to type a literature report for caseworkers and victims of domestic violence.

Literature search topics from initial meeting:
Focus of Study: Caseworkers: Research to see if information on the following is available
What is not working in terms of case management as it relates to serving IPV intimate partner violence
services. Can we isolate what is not working specifically to software used to direct victims to services?(
Information on failings of software from caseworker point of view?
Information on failings from victim point of view?
Software usage and software dependence
Salary range
Career length
Why do they leave the career?
Education level/background
Personal characteristics
Lifestyle
Competitor software:
Wellsky and BA  Focus
Day to life of caseworker
How can caseworkers be better served by software
ID referral services you identify
What compels caseworkers to use SAS?
Do they have the right data at the right time?
What is EccoviaEccovia is a software company that seeks to assist the health and human
services through case and data management. These fields are varied and
numerous, but they all share one thing in common: people. We support

organizations ranging from healthcare and behavioral health to homeless
management and refugee resettlement. By helping our partners coordinate
and integrate with both public and private organizations across every segment
of HHS, our services ensure that people are at the center of their own care.
Eccovia’s Mission Statement and
ValuesEccovia aims to be the clear vendor of choice in the Health & Human and
Social Services community and demonstrates our expertise through client
referrals, peer validation, and continued growth in the market. We provide
unlimited opportunities to people in “helping organizations” so that they can be
more successful in accomplishing their goals. We are continually improving 

Literature search topics from initial meeting:

Library hyperlink

www.ewu.edu/library/

Focus of Study: Caseworkers: Research to see if information on the following is available

What is not working in terms of case management as it relates to serving IPV intimate partner violence services. Can we isolate what is not working specifically to software used to direct victims to services?(

Information on failings of software from caseworker point of view?

Information on failings from victim point of view?

Software usage and software dependence

Salary range

Career length

Why do they leave the career?

Education level/background

Personal characteristics

Lifestyle

Competitor software:

Wellsky and BA Focus

Day to life of caseworker

How can caseworkers be better served by software

ID referral services you identify

What compels caseworkers to use SAS?

Do they have the right data at the right time?

What is Eccovia

Eccovia is a software company that seeks to assist the health and human services through case and data management. These fields are varied and numerous, but they all share one thing in common: people. We support organizations ranging from healthcare and behavioral health to homeless management and refugee resettlement. By helping our partners coordinate and integrate with both public and private organizations across every segment of HHS, our services ensure that people are at the center of their own care.

Eccovia’s Mission Statement and Values

Eccovia aims to be the clear vendor of choice in the Health & Human and Social Services community and demonstrates our expertise through client referrals, peer validation, and continued growth in the market. We provide unlimited opportunities to people in “helping organizations” so that they can be more successful in accomplishing their goals. We are continually improving our products, services, and effectiveness.

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Cloud-based software to help Hubbard County Social Services staff telework —
caseworkers and social workers can access electronic case files from anywhere

The Pilot-Independent (Walker, Minnesota)

July 11, 2020

Copyright 2020 The Pilot-Independent, American Consolidated Media.
Distributed by Newsbank, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Section: NEWS

Length: 558 words

Byline: Gail Deboer

Body

Hubbard County Department of Social Services (DSS) is investing in new technology to help staff telework during
the COVID-19 pandemic and well into the future.

“With COVID, this solution plays a huge, vital role in how we do business now. I also look forward to staff working
from home in the future. This solution will allow us to telework efficiently and perform as a public agency better than
we were before,” said Brian Ophus, social services director, Hubbard County DSS.

Hubbard County DSS will first provide a centralized document management system anyone in the agency can
access. Staff will use Northwoods’ web-based software, Capture™, to electronically scan and index documents into
the enterprise content management system, OnBase® by Hyland. Agency-wide access to case files will reduce
duplicate work, such as workers in different program areas collecting the same information from clients.

The agency’s previous solution digitized a small percentage of documents, but they were not accessible outside of
the office or to workers in other units, which impacted client service.

“We have to make things easier on the client and information more accessible because when they come to us,
they are not in the best place in their life. My focus is getting a centralized document system to help make it easier
for the client to move forward,” Ophus said.

The next phase will provide Northwoods’ software Traverse® to adult social services and child protection social
workers to collect, view and share case content from anywhere at any time. Social workers will use Traverse’s web-
based application to scan and upload documents and a companion mobile app to easily take photos and complete
forms during home visits.

In addition to enabling remote work, the solution will have numerous benefits:

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Page 2 of 3

Cloud-based software to help Hubbard County Social Services staff telework — caseworkers and social
workers can access electronic case files from anywhere

Relieve stress on caseworkers and social workers managing high caseloads

Reduced burden on county IT staff to maintain the cloud-based solution

Enable adult social services and child protection social workers to spend more time with clients

“The biggest challenge was that everything was still on paper. What took an hour and a half to find a document will
take 30 to 40 seconds. Traverse will allow social workers to be more efficient and spend more time with clients and
take a lot of stress off the workers,” Ophus said.

Hubbard County DSS is funding the project by utilizing consolidated funding through state and federal grants
available to help individuals under 200 percent of poverty

“Whether in the office or teleworking, frontline workers need real-time access to information to best serve their
clients. Northwoods’ solutions will help Hubbard County DSS workers access, collect and share key data and
documents from anywhere,” said Chris McConnell, chief business development officer, Northwoods.

Northwoods develops customized, high-tech software solutions for adult & aging, child support, child welfare and
economic assistance. We help state and county human services agencies do more with less and get the results
they need. Nearly 45,000 caseworkers across the country use our solutions to manage, collect, view and share
content and data more efficiently. As a result, agencies improve service delivery, maximize productivity, make
informed decisions and achieve better outcomes. Northwoods is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio.

Classification

Language: ENGLISH

Publication-Type: Newspaper

Subject: TELECOMMUTING (93%); COVID CORONAVIRUS (90%); COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS (90%); SERVICE
WORKERS (90%); SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENTS (90%); SOCIAL WORK (90%); CHILD PROTECTIVE
SERVICES (89%); COUNTY GOVERNMENT (89%); BUSINESS NEWS (78%); COMPANY ACTIVITIES &
MANAGEMENT (78%); CUSTOMER SERVICE (78%); HOME BASED EMPLOYMENT (78%); INFECTIOUS
DISEASE (78%); NEGATIVE SOCIETAL NEWS (78%); PANDEMICS (78%); TECHNICIANS & TECHNOLOGICAL
WORKERS (78%); NEGATIVE NEWS (73%); GRANTS & GIFTS (68%); CHILD CUSTODY & SUPPORT (64%);
POVERTY & HOMELESSNESS (60%)

Industry: CLOUD COMPUTING (90%); COMPUTER SOFTWARE (90%); DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT (90%);
INFORMATION MANAGEMENT (89%); MOBILE APPLICATIONS (72%)

Page 3 of 3

Cloud-based software to help Hubbard County Social Services staff telework — caseworkers and social
workers can access electronic case files from anywhere

Geographic: UNITED STATES (79%)

Load-Date: July 12, 2020

End of Document

Bibliography

1. Cloud-based software to help Hubbard County Social Services staff telework — caseworkers and social
workers can access electronic case files from anywhere, NEWS,

End of Document

  • Cloud-based software to help Hubbard County Social Services staff telework — caseworkers and social workers can access electronic case files from anywhere
  • Body

    Classification

Journal of Social Service Research, 37:

481

–489, 2011
Copyright c© Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0148-8376 print / 1540-7314 online
DOI: 10.1080/01488376.2011.587747

Intimate Partner Violence Survivors’ Unmet Social Service
Needs

Melissa E. Dichter
Karin V. Rhodes

ABSTRACT. Women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization are at risk for
physical and mental health problems, as well as social and economic challenges. In this cross-sectional
study, 173 adult, English-speaking women who had experienced police response to IPV completed a
self-report questionnaire about their use of, interest in, and need for various social services and whether
or not each type of service helped (or would help) them to feel safer. More than three quarters of the
participants reported a current need for health and economic support services. There was less interest
in traditional IPV resources: law enforcement and domestic violence counseling or shelter. Expanding
services to meet survivors’ needs for health care and economic independence may facilitate long-term
safety. Recommendations for further research in this area are provided.

KEYWORDS. Intimate partner violence, domestic violence, service needs

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

More than one in four women experiences
physical or sexual violence, or stalking, from
an intimate partner in her lifetime (Tjaden &
Thoennes, 2000). Intimate partner violence
(IPV) victimization can lead to a variety of both
short- and long-term medical, financial, and
psychosocial problems, and victims may have
a variety of related social service needs. This
article presents the self-identified health and so-
cial service needs of female IPV survivors who
had come to the attention of police as a result of
IPV. Although the majority of IPV incidents are
not reported to the police (Tjaden & Thoennes,

Melissa E. Dichter, MSW, PhD, Health Services Research Fellow, Center for Health Equity Research and
Promotion, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA.

Karin V. Rhodes, MS, MD, Director, Division of Health Policy Research, University of Pennsylvania,
Department of Emergency Medicine and School of Social Policy & Practice, Philadelphia, PA.

Address correspondence to: Melissa E. Dichter, MSW, PhD, Center for Health Equity Research and
Promotion, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, 3900 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (E-mail:
mdichter@sp2.upenn.edu, Melissa.Dichter@va.gov).

2000), those that are tend to be the more severe
incidents (Bonomi, Holt, Martin, & Thompson,
2006; Davies, Block, & Campbell, 2007), and
police intervention provides the opportunity for
referral to other needed social services.

Impacts of IPV

In addition to the sequela of direct injury,
studies have found a history of IPV victimiza-
tion to be associated with short- and long-term
physical health, mental health, and financial
and social problems. IPV may lead to problems
with the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts
as well as a host of gynecological and chronic

481

482 M. E. Dichter and K. V. Rhodes

pain syndromes, sleep loss and sleep disorders,
and complications in pregnancy (Bonomi et al.,
2009; Drossman, Talley, Lesserman, Olden, &
Barreiro, 1995; Janssen et al., 2003; Walker,
Shannon, & Logan, in press). IPV victimization
has also been found to be strongly associated
with mental health symptoms and disorders
including anxiety, posttraumatic stress symp-
toms, depression, and suicidal ideation or
attempts (Abbott, Johnson, Koziol-McLain, &
Lowenstein, 1996; Afifi et al., 2009; Bonomi
et al., 2009; Coker et al., 2002; Golding, 1999;
Woods, Hall, Campbell, & Angott, 2008).
Women who have experienced IPV victimiza-
tion are also more likely than nonvictimized
women to have symptoms of substance abuse
problems (Bonomi et al., 2009; Coker et al.,
2002; Martin, Beaumont, & Kupper, 2003).
Although substance use may contribute to
women’s vulnerability to victimization, several
studies report that women use substances to
cope with the victimization and its aftermath
(El-Bassel, Gilbert, Wu, Go, & Hill, 2005;
Salomon, Bassuk, & Huntington, 2002; Ward,
2003; Zubretsky & Digirolamo, 1996).

IPV victimization can also affect women’s fi-
nancial and social well-being. Abusive partners
may interfere with a woman’s ability to work by
forbidding her from leaving the house or com-
municating with others, or by inhibiting her abil-
ity to do so—for example, by taking away her
access to necessary resources such as transporta-
tion or by interfering with her daily function-
ing by, for example, interfering with her ability
to sleep (Adams, Sullivan, Bybee, & Greeson,
2008; Brewster, 2003; Moe & Bell, 2004; Riger,
Raja, & Camacho, 2002). Victims may be iso-
lated from friends, family, and other sources of
social support. Leaving an abusive partner can
also mean loss of economic resources including
the partner’s financial contributions to support
housing, food, child care, and other necessities
(M. A. Anderson et al., 2003; Riger et al., 2002).

Resources and Services

Police are often the first responders in IPV
cases and have been positioned as the entry point
into gaining services from the criminal legal sys-
tem (CLS). Individuals victimized by violence

may turn to the CLS for protection, with the
expectation that the offender will be held ac-
countable for his or her actions. However, the
survivor’s safety may or may not be protected
in the process. Indeed, the focus of CLS inter-
vention is on the offender and not necessarily
on the needs of the victim, who may have ser-
vice needs that extend beyond CLS intervention.
Furthermore, many survivors of IPV do not seek
or receive intervention from the CLS, although
they may have a variety of needs resulting from
IPV.

Social services specifically designed to serve
individuals victimized by IPV include emer-
gency shelter, advocacy, and counseling. Shel-
ters are designed to help survivors escape vio-
lence, and in addition to temporary housing, they
may provide advocacy and short-term counsel-
ing services (Schechter, 1982; Vapnar, 1980).
Counseling typically focuses on addressing the
impacts of violence and helping survivors re-
cover from trauma and build self-esteem and
self-efficacy. Such programs may be helpful
for healing and restructuring one’s life free
from violence. Outside of the shelter, however,
women are not necessarily protected from vi-
olence (Bennett, Riger, Schewe, Howard, &
Wasco, 2004; Bybee & Sullivan, 2005).

Leaving the relationship does not guarantee
safety; however, resources that facilitate inde-
pendence may help women escape violent situ-
ations (K. L. Anderson, 2007). Postmus, Sev-
erson, Berry, and Yoo (2009) recently found
that “tangible interventions, such as day care,
housing, education, food bank, and job training”
were helpful to women leaving abusive relation-
ships (p. 862). These economic supports could
be protective against further violence by help-
ing women establish independence and physical
distance from their partners (Bybee & Sullivan,
2005; Goodman, Dutton, Vankos, & Weinfurt,
2005; Perez & Johnson, 2008). Lack of such
resources, on the other hand, is potentially detri-
mental to safety. In a study of women in domestic
violence shelters in Pennsylvania, Harding and
Helweg-Larsen (2009) found that half of the par-
ticipants said that they had previously left and
then returned to violent partners because they
did not have a place to live or stay. Bybee and
Sullivan (2005) also note that lack of financial

IPV Survivors’ Unmet Service Needs 483

resources is a barrier to leaving and, therefore,
may contribute to risk for reassault. These find-
ings are not new—the early literature from more
than 30 years ago also indicated that women
were “entrapped” in relationships with violent
partners due to lack of economic resources to es-
tablish independence (e.g., employment; Gelles,
1976). However, few studies have specifically
asked survivors about unmet needs and desire
for social services and resources that they think
will make them safer.

Recent literature has identified the types of
services that women who had experienced in-
terpersonal violence need (Eisenman et al.,
2009), have sought (Nuris, Macy, Nwabuzor,
& Holt, 2011), and have used and found help-
ful (Postmus et al., 2009). Eisenman and col-
leagues (2009) conducted in-person interviews
with pregnant and postpartum Latina women in
Los Angeles who had experienced recent IPV.
Almost half reported needing social services
such as housing, child care, or drug/alcohol treat-
ment; 40% identified a need for legal services,
and close to 30% wanted employment-related
services. Nuris and colleagues (2011) surveyed
women who had sought a police intervention or
a civil order of protection for IPV and found that
38% had sought domestic violence services (in-
cluding shelter or housing, support groups, advo-
cacy, or counseling), 66% had sought legal help
for criminal or civil matters, 32% sought eco-
nomic support (welfare, food stamps, Social Se-
curity, or food bank), and 9% sought substance
abuse services. In interviews with women who
had experienced IPV, Postmus and colleagues
(2009) found that close to 65% of the women had
received counseling services in response to the
violence, more than half had used cash support
(welfare), close to half had used legal services
to pursue a divorce or order of protection, close
to 40% had used a domestic violence shelter,
and just over one quarter had received job train-
ing or employment counseling. The participants
rated economic support services, such as subsi-
dized day care, subsidized housing, welfare, and
unemployment compensation as most helpful,
in addition to religious or spiritual counseling,
educational support services, and employment
training or counseling.

Study Purpose

The purpose of the present study was to ex-
plore the health and social service needs of
women who had a police-reported incident of
IPV. In particular, the study aims were to iden-
tify the full range of service use, interest in fu-
ture service use, need for services, and whether
or not the services would contribute to survivors’
feelings of safety. The overall goal is to inform
resource allocation and targeted intervention ef-
forts for women who seek help for IPV. This
study adds to this literature by: a) focusing on
the subset of women who have come to the atten-
tion of the police, which provides an entry point
for referral; b) identifying both service use and
perceived need to gain a better understanding
of unmet needs; and c) identifying a survivor’s
perspective on the services’ contribution to her
sense of safety.

METHODS

Setting and Sample

The study took place in a large city on the
East coast of the United States. Participants were
adult (aged 18 to 64 years), English-speaking
women who had experienced police response
to an incident of partner violence with a male
partner.

Measures

Data were collected through a self-report
questionnaire. Participants were asked to pro-
vide demographic information (age, race, level
of education, whether or not they were em-
ployed, and whether or not they had children)
as well as information about their relationship
status (whether or not they were still in the rela-
tionship to which they were referring in the sur-
vey and whether or not they were living with the
partner at the time of data collection) and about
violence experienced from the partner during or
after the relationship.

Violence victimization was measured with
questions from the physical assault, psycho-
logical aggression, sexual coercion, and injury

484 M. E. Dichter and K. V. Rhodes

subscales of the Short Form of the Revised Con-
flict Tactics Scales (Straus & Douglas, 2004).
These scales contain eight items, two for each
form of violence, and participants were asked
whether they had experienced each of these
forms of violence.

The research team developed a list of services
and programs based on review of prior litera-
ture and input from staff of agencies providing
services to IPV survivors. The service/program
categories included: medical health care, men-
tal/behavioral health care, economic support, le-
gal services, domestic violence services, and
parenting services. For each service or program,
the participant was asked: a) if she had ever used,
or was currently using, that service/program; b)
if she would be interested in using, or continuing
to use, that service or program for herself; c) if
she thought that the service or program would
meet her current needs; and d) if she thought that
the service or program would help her feel safer.

Procedures

The study protocol was reviewed and ap-
proved by the Institutional Review Board of the
University of Pennsylvania. Participants were
recruited through two venues: a hospital emer-
gency department (screened for IPV and, if eligi-
ble, invited to participate) and community-based
agencies that provide services to women expe-
riencing IPV (recruited through flyers and in-
formation provided by counselors). Eligible and
interested women were invited to complete the
questionnaire at the time of their visit at the hos-
pital or the agency, or to schedule an individ-
ual appointment with a member of the research
team. Participation was voluntary and anony-
mous, and questionnaires were administered in-
dividually and in a private space at the agency
from which the participant was recruited. The
researcher conducted the informed consent pro-
cess with the participant before beginning the
questionnaire.

RESULTS

Sample Description

One-hundred seventy-three women com-
pleted the questionnaire. Demographic, relation-

TABLE 1. Sample Description (N = 173)

Na %

Age
18–25 64 37.4
26–35 47 27.5
36–45 33 19.3
46+ 27 15.8

Race
Black/African American 132 78.6
White/Caucasian 25 14.9
Mixed/Other 11 6.5

Level of Education
Did not finish high school 43 26.9
Completed high school or GED 51 31.9
Some college 50 31.3
Completed college 16 10.0

Employed (Full or Part Time)
Yes 56 35.0
No 104 65.0

Children
Yes 141 81.5
No 32 18.5

Relationship Status
Current 66 38.6
Former 105 61.4

Living with Partner
Yes 46 26.6
No 127 73.4

Psychological Violenceb

Yes 164 97.0
No 5 3.0

Physical Violenceb

Yes 144 86.7
No 22 13.3

Sexual Violenceb

Yes 100 59.5
No 68 40.5

Injuryb

Yes 141 84.9
No 25 15.1

aDue to missing data, some variables do not add to 173; the percent-
age is of those with nonmissing data.
bRefers to victimization by the current/recent partner.

ship, and violence characteristics of the sample
are presented in Table 1. The participants ranged
in age from 18 to 57 years old, with a mean age
of 32.05 years. Almost two thirds (64.9%) of
the participants were younger than 36 years old.
The majority (78.6%) of the participants self-
identified as Black or African American. More
than a quarter of the participants had not finished
high school; only 10% had completed college.
Most (81.5%) of the participants had children.

Participants were asked to provide informa-
tion about a current or recent relationship with

IPV Survivors’ Unmet Service Needs 485

TABLE 2. Service Use, Interest, Need∗

Used Interested Current Need Help to Feel Safer

Health Care (Medical)
Medical Care 97.6 87.8 89.9 76.9

Mental/Behavioral Health Care
Mental Health Care 62.2 71.4 70.7 63.0
Stress Management 35.9 77.6 75.9 62.5
Anger Management 29.7 57.3 59.4 53.5
Alcohol/Drug Counseling 14.2 19.3 19.7 20.9

Economic Support
Financial Assistance 61.0 76.6 76.1 64.0
Housing Assistance 49.4 75.3 75.2 67.2
Employment Assistance 54.2 69.7 70.4 52.6

Legal Services
Law Enforcement 92.8 56.7 47.0 62.3
Legal Assistance 42.2 57.9 56.0 52.3

Domestic Violence Services
Domestic Violence Counseling 38.6 57.9 62.5 56.6
Domestic Violence Shelter 24.8 29.9 28.7 38.0

Parenting Servicesa

Child Care 52.0 58.9 57.1 47.0
Parenting Education/Support 30.2 50.0 47.4 37.5

∗Proportion of all participants who said “yes.”
aOf those who have children.

a male partner. Just over a quarter of the partici-
pants were living together with the partner at the
time of data collection. The majority (61.4%)
of the participants were no longer in a relation-
ship with that partner at the time of data col-
lection. Nearly all of the participants reported
having experienced psychological violence from
the partner. Most (86.7%) reported physical vio-
lence victimization; more than half (59.5%) re-
ported sexual violence victimization, and nearly
85% reported injury due to physical or sexual
violence victimization.

Service Use, Interest, Need

Findings related to service use, interest, and
need are presented in Table 2. Nearly all par-
ticipants (97.6%) had used medical care, and
such services received high endorsement for in-
terest (87.8%), meeting a current need (89.9%),
and helping the participant to feel safer (76.9%).
More than half of all participants (62.6%) said
that they had used general mental health care and
that this service helped them feel safer (63.0%);
more than two thirds (71.4%) said that they were
interested in mental health care and/or that hav-

ing such a service meets or would meet a cur-
rent need (70.7%). Stress and anger management
programs were less frequently used (35.9% and
29.7%, respectively) but received endorsement
from more than half of all participants for inter-
est and need. More than three quarters of partic-
ipants said that they needed or were interested
in using (or continuing to use) a stress man-
agement program. Drug or alcohol counseling
received far less support, but still, nearly one in
five women said that they would be interested in
participating in such a program.

Economic support programs, including direct
financial (cash) assistance, housing assistance,
and employment assistance, received high en-
dorsement, with more than half of all partici-
pants (and in the case of financial and housing
assistance, more than three quarters) reporting
that they have a need for, and are interested in,
using such programs. Both law enforcement and
legal assistance services were endorsed by close
to or more than half of all participants.

Slightly more people were interested in
using, and felt a current need for, domestic
violence shelter services than had actually used
such services. Still, the level of interest and

486 M. E. Dichter and K. V. Rhodes

need for domestic violence shelter services was
lower than that of any other service except for
alcohol or drug counseling. Domestic violence
counseling received more support than domestic
violence shelter services. More than half of all
participants were interested in using domestic
violence counseling services. Participants who
had children were interested in, and felt a current
need for, child care services; more than half said
they needed such services and more than 40%
said that child care services would help them to
feel safer. Half of all participants with children
were interested in parenting education or sup-
port programs, and more than a third said that
such programs would help them to feel safer.

For all services or programs, with the excep-
tion of law enforcement, the proportion of par-
ticipants expressing interest in use was highest
among the subset of participants who had used
that service or program. There was particularly
strong disparity between need and use of stress
management, anger management, and housing
assistance programs (a difference of 40 percent-
age points for stress management and more than
25 percentage points for anger management and
housing assistance), reflecting particular areas of
unmet needs.

DISCUSSION

Limitations

As in most cross-sectional studies collecting
data from nonrepresentative samples, this study
has a number of important limitations. In particu-
lar, the participants were predominantly African
American and from a single urban community,
all with a history of police calls for IPV with a
male partner. Police-involved victims are more
likely to have more severe experiences of IPV
than women whose cases do not come to the at-
tention of police (Bonomi et al., 2006); they may
also have higher rates of severe IPV and perhaps
higher levels of unmet need for a variety of so-
cial services. Participants were recruited from
an emergency department and from community-
based services. Therefore, the results may not be
generalizable to women who do not seek help in
either health care or social service settings, to

women in rural populations, or to women who
experience IPV from a female partner. However,
within the context of urban IPV, this population’s
needs appear to be reflective of other qualitative
and quantitative studies of the barriers to safety
faced by abused women.

Implications

This study found high levels of expressed in-
terest in and need for financial assistance, em-
ployment assistance, and housing, with propor-
tions of participants who had used such services
higher than those found in previous studies (e.g.,
Nuris et al., 2011; Postmus et al., 2009). Eco-
nomic support, including employment and hous-
ing programs, can help women establish inde-
pendence from their partners. A large majority
of participants in this study expressed interest in
and need for employment serves that would help
them to be gainfully employed—women want
and need job training, skills development, and
access to jobs. It is also critical to have employ-
ment policies and practices that support women
who have experienced violence not only to ob-
tain, but also to maintain, employment. Employ-
ment policies that, for example, provide leave for
dealing with the consequences of violence, or al-
low an employee to transfer to another location
to escape from violence, can facilitate a victim’s
future safety. A large majority (more than three
quarters) of the women in this study expressed
interest in and need for housing assistance—not
just shelter but the ability to move into a place
where they could be safe. Housing subsidies,
rent assistance, and tenant or homeowner ad-
vocacy could assist women in gaining freedom
from violence (Menard, 2001).

A large majority of the study participants
also indicated interest in and need for medical
and mental health care, especially stress man-
agement programs. Health care may be viewed
as a standard necessary service to meet a va-
riety of needs, and use of such services may
feel less stigma-associated than use of domes-
tic violence services. Health care can also be an
entry point for identifying IPV and referring sur-
vivors to other necessary services. Studies have
found that a majority of women who have ex-
perienced IPV victimization are supportive of

IPV Survivors’ Unmet Service Needs 487

health care provider screening for IPV and be-
lieve that such screening would help women to
get needed help for IPV (Gielen et al., 2000).
Overall, it seems that women who have experi-
enced police response to IPV have a favorable
view of utilizing health care services for both
their physical and psychological health care and
believe these services can increase their safety.

These high endorsements for economic sup-
port and mental and medical health care contrast
with relatively low interest in the services that
are particularly designated as the traditional re-
sponse to IPV and victim care: law enforcement,
domestic violence counseling, and domestic vi-
olence shelter. The lower levels of endorsement
of these traditional IPV resources may reflect
negative perceptions of these services (e.g., that
they are not helpful) or perceived stigma at-
tached to using these services. Additionally or
alternatively, these critical services may act as a
temporary “Band-Aid” for acute circumstances
but are not viewed as useful for long-term protec-
tion. Without means for gaining independence
from the partner, some women will not be able
to safely escape the violence. However, the po-
lice may potentially serve as an entry point into
other services as many female IPV victims, and
all of the participants in this study, have interac-
tions with police.

Services beyond counseling and shelter can
be administered and facilitated through domestic
violence programs, which may provide support
for a wide variety of needed social services, such
as transportation, financial support, skills educa-
tion, substance abuse treatment, child care, job
training, medical care, legal service, housing,
and parenting needs. These programs, however,
are often severely underfunded, and therefore,
demand for services typically exceeds supply.
Based on a one-day (September 17, 2008) cen-
sus of domestic violence programs across the
country, nearly 9,000 requests for IPV services
were unmet due to lack of resources (primarily
insufficient funding or staff) within the programs
(National Network to End Domestic Violence
[NNEDV], 2009). We may, therefore, need to in-
crease support for domestic violence programs
so that they can begin to meet the demand for
both traditional and nontraditional IPV services.

Some women who have survived IPV may
have a need for social services but are not inter-
ested in seeking those services from a domestic
violence program. It may be appropriate, then, to
target funding to meet the needs of IPV survivors
through other social service programs that may
serve IPV survivors but that are not specifically
designated for this population. Additionally, po-
lice and hospital personnel who may encounter
IPV survivors may be able to help refer indi-
viduals to the services they need, beyond the
traditional victim services.

The findings from this study indicate that sur-
vivors of IPV have a variety of social service
needs, many of which are not classically con-
sidered or funded as domestic violence services.
When we think of domestic violence services,
we need to think more broadly than shelter,
counseling, and advocacy. Coordinated commu-
nity response programs, which have been in
use for more than 20 years (Pence & Shep-
ard, 1999), are focused primarily on the CLS
(offender accountability) and shelter programs.
The results from this study would support
Pennington-Zoellner’s (2009) recommendations
for expanding the community coordination
model to include a broader array of social service
support for IPV survivors.

This study found high levels of unmet
health and social service needs among police-
involved victims of IPV and demonstrated the
perceived relevance of such services for vic-
tims’ sense of safety. Current domestic vio-
lence crisis services, including shelters, ad-
vocacy programs, and policing, are necessary
for temporary refuge from trauma, but with-
out adequate resources to provide or connect
clients with broader health and social services,
these services may not be sufficient for help-
ing women escape and recover from abusive sit-
uations. A broader range of social, economic,
and health care services may have relevance
for long-term safety and recovery. Future re-
search in this area could expand to other pop-
ulations, including those who have not sought
medical, legal, or social support, and could in-
vestigate mechanisms of broadening support ser-
vices to meet the needs of this vulnerable popu-
lation.

488 M. E. Dichter and K. V. Rhodes

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This work was supported by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, National Cen-
ter for Injury Prevention and Control (grant #:
1R49CE001226-01). The authors thank Richard
J. Gelles, PhD, for contributions to the design
of this project and feedback on this article, and
thank the staff of the agencies from which par-
ticipants were recruited, and, most importantly,
the participants themselves. The contents of this
article do not necessarily represent the views of
the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United
States Government.

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Journal of Social Service Research, 37:

481

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Copyright c© Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0148-8376 print / 1540-7314 online
DOI: 10.1080/01488376.2011.587747

Intimate Partner Violence Survivors’ Unmet Social Service
Needs

Melissa E. Dichter
Karin V. Rhodes

ABSTRACT. Women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization are at risk for
physical and mental health problems, as well as social and economic challenges. In this cross-sectional
study, 173 adult, English-speaking women who had experienced police response to IPV completed a
self-report questionnaire about their use of, interest in, and need for various social services and whether
or not each type of service helped (or would help) them to feel safer. More than three quarters of the
participants reported a current need for health and economic support services. There was less interest
in traditional IPV resources: law enforcement and domestic violence counseling or shelter. Expanding
services to meet survivors’ needs for health care and economic independence may facilitate long-term
safety. Recommendations for further research in this area are provided.

KEYWORDS. Intimate partner violence, domestic violence, service needs

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

More than one in four women experiences
physical or sexual violence, or stalking, from
an intimate partner in her lifetime (Tjaden &
Thoennes, 2000). Intimate partner violence
(IPV) victimization can lead to a variety of both
short- and long-term medical, financial, and
psychosocial problems, and victims may have
a variety of related social service needs. This
article presents the self-identified health and so-
cial service needs of female IPV survivors who
had come to the attention of police as a result of
IPV. Although the majority of IPV incidents are
not reported to the police (Tjaden & Thoennes,

Melissa E. Dichter, MSW, PhD, Health Services Research Fellow, Center for Health Equity Research and
Promotion, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA.

Karin V. Rhodes, MS, MD, Director, Division of Health Policy Research, University of Pennsylvania,
Department of Emergency Medicine and School of Social Policy & Practice, Philadelphia, PA.

Address correspondence to: Melissa E. Dichter, MSW, PhD, Center for Health Equity Research and
Promotion, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, 3900 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (E-mail:
mdichter@sp2.upenn.edu, Melissa.Dichter@va.gov).

2000), those that are tend to be the more severe
incidents (Bonomi, Holt, Martin, & Thompson,
2006; Davies, Block, & Campbell, 2007), and
police intervention provides the opportunity for
referral to other needed social services.

Impacts of IPV

In addition to the sequela of direct injury,
studies have found a history of IPV victimiza-
tion to be associated with short- and long-term
physical health, mental health, and financial
and social problems. IPV may lead to problems
with the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts
as well as a host of gynecological and chronic

481

482 M. E. Dichter and K. V. Rhodes

pain syndromes, sleep loss and sleep disorders,
and complications in pregnancy (Bonomi et al.,
2009; Drossman, Talley, Lesserman, Olden, &
Barreiro, 1995; Janssen et al., 2003; Walker,
Shannon, & Logan, in press). IPV victimization
has also been found to be strongly associated
with mental health symptoms and disorders
including anxiety, posttraumatic stress symp-
toms, depression, and suicidal ideation or
attempts (Abbott, Johnson, Koziol-McLain, &
Lowenstein, 1996; Afifi et al., 2009; Bonomi
et al., 2009; Coker et al., 2002; Golding, 1999;
Woods, Hall, Campbell, & Angott, 2008).
Women who have experienced IPV victimiza-
tion are also more likely than nonvictimized
women to have symptoms of substance abuse
problems (Bonomi et al., 2009; Coker et al.,
2002; Martin, Beaumont, & Kupper, 2003).
Although substance use may contribute to
women’s vulnerability to victimization, several
studies report that women use substances to
cope with the victimization and its aftermath
(El-Bassel, Gilbert, Wu, Go, & Hill, 2005;
Salomon, Bassuk, & Huntington, 2002; Ward,
2003; Zubretsky & Digirolamo, 1996).

IPV victimization can also affect women’s fi-
nancial and social well-being. Abusive partners
may interfere with a woman’s ability to work by
forbidding her from leaving the house or com-
municating with others, or by inhibiting her abil-
ity to do so—for example, by taking away her
access to necessary resources such as transporta-
tion or by interfering with her daily function-
ing by, for example, interfering with her ability
to sleep (Adams, Sullivan, Bybee, & Greeson,
2008; Brewster, 2003; Moe & Bell, 2004; Riger,
Raja, & Camacho, 2002). Victims may be iso-
lated from friends, family, and other sources of
social support. Leaving an abusive partner can
also mean loss of economic resources including
the partner’s financial contributions to support
housing, food, child care, and other necessities
(M. A. Anderson et al., 2003; Riger et al., 2002).

Resources and Services

Police are often the first responders in IPV
cases and have been positioned as the entry point
into gaining services from the criminal legal sys-
tem (CLS). Individuals victimized by violence

may turn to the CLS for protection, with the
expectation that the offender will be held ac-
countable for his or her actions. However, the
survivor’s safety may or may not be protected
in the process. Indeed, the focus of CLS inter-
vention is on the offender and not necessarily
on the needs of the victim, who may have ser-
vice needs that extend beyond CLS intervention.
Furthermore, many survivors of IPV do not seek
or receive intervention from the CLS, although
they may have a variety of needs resulting from
IPV.

Social services specifically designed to serve
individuals victimized by IPV include emer-
gency shelter, advocacy, and counseling. Shel-
ters are designed to help survivors escape vio-
lence, and in addition to temporary housing, they
may provide advocacy and short-term counsel-
ing services (Schechter, 1982; Vapnar, 1980).
Counseling typically focuses on addressing the
impacts of violence and helping survivors re-
cover from trauma and build self-esteem and
self-efficacy. Such programs may be helpful
for healing and restructuring one’s life free
from violence. Outside of the shelter, however,
women are not necessarily protected from vi-
olence (Bennett, Riger, Schewe, Howard, &
Wasco, 2004; Bybee & Sullivan, 2005).

Leaving the relationship does not guarantee
safety; however, resources that facilitate inde-
pendence may help women escape violent situ-
ations (K. L. Anderson, 2007). Postmus, Sev-
erson, Berry, and Yoo (2009) recently found
that “tangible interventions, such as day care,
housing, education, food bank, and job training”
were helpful to women leaving abusive relation-
ships (p. 862). These economic supports could
be protective against further violence by help-
ing women establish independence and physical
distance from their partners (Bybee & Sullivan,
2005; Goodman, Dutton, Vankos, & Weinfurt,
2005; Perez & Johnson, 2008). Lack of such
resources, on the other hand, is potentially detri-
mental to safety. In a study of women in domestic
violence shelters in Pennsylvania, Harding and
Helweg-Larsen (2009) found that half of the par-
ticipants said that they had previously left and
then returned to violent partners because they
did not have a place to live or stay. Bybee and
Sullivan (2005) also note that lack of financial

IPV Survivors’ Unmet Service Needs 483

resources is a barrier to leaving and, therefore,
may contribute to risk for reassault. These find-
ings are not new—the early literature from more
than 30 years ago also indicated that women
were “entrapped” in relationships with violent
partners due to lack of economic resources to es-
tablish independence (e.g., employment; Gelles,
1976). However, few studies have specifically
asked survivors about unmet needs and desire
for social services and resources that they think
will make them safer.

Recent literature has identified the types of
services that women who had experienced in-
terpersonal violence need (Eisenman et al.,
2009), have sought (Nuris, Macy, Nwabuzor,
& Holt, 2011), and have used and found help-
ful (Postmus et al., 2009). Eisenman and col-
leagues (2009) conducted in-person interviews
with pregnant and postpartum Latina women in
Los Angeles who had experienced recent IPV.
Almost half reported needing social services
such as housing, child care, or drug/alcohol treat-
ment; 40% identified a need for legal services,
and close to 30% wanted employment-related
services. Nuris and colleagues (2011) surveyed
women who had sought a police intervention or
a civil order of protection for IPV and found that
38% had sought domestic violence services (in-
cluding shelter or housing, support groups, advo-
cacy, or counseling), 66% had sought legal help
for criminal or civil matters, 32% sought eco-
nomic support (welfare, food stamps, Social Se-
curity, or food bank), and 9% sought substance
abuse services. In interviews with women who
had experienced IPV, Postmus and colleagues
(2009) found that close to 65% of the women had
received counseling services in response to the
violence, more than half had used cash support
(welfare), close to half had used legal services
to pursue a divorce or order of protection, close
to 40% had used a domestic violence shelter,
and just over one quarter had received job train-
ing or employment counseling. The participants
rated economic support services, such as subsi-
dized day care, subsidized housing, welfare, and
unemployment compensation as most helpful,
in addition to religious or spiritual counseling,
educational support services, and employment
training or counseling.

Study Purpose

The purpose of the present study was to ex-
plore the health and social service needs of
women who had a police-reported incident of
IPV. In particular, the study aims were to iden-
tify the full range of service use, interest in fu-
ture service use, need for services, and whether
or not the services would contribute to survivors’
feelings of safety. The overall goal is to inform
resource allocation and targeted intervention ef-
forts for women who seek help for IPV. This
study adds to this literature by: a) focusing on
the subset of women who have come to the atten-
tion of the police, which provides an entry point
for referral; b) identifying both service use and
perceived need to gain a better understanding
of unmet needs; and c) identifying a survivor’s
perspective on the services’ contribution to her
sense of safety.

METHODS

Setting and Sample

The study took place in a large city on the
East coast of the United States. Participants were
adult (aged 18 to 64 years), English-speaking
women who had experienced police response
to an incident of partner violence with a male
partner.

Measures

Data were collected through a self-report
questionnaire. Participants were asked to pro-
vide demographic information (age, race, level
of education, whether or not they were em-
ployed, and whether or not they had children)
as well as information about their relationship
status (whether or not they were still in the rela-
tionship to which they were referring in the sur-
vey and whether or not they were living with the
partner at the time of data collection) and about
violence experienced from the partner during or
after the relationship.

Violence victimization was measured with
questions from the physical assault, psycho-
logical aggression, sexual coercion, and injury

484 M. E. Dichter and K. V. Rhodes

subscales of the Short Form of the Revised Con-
flict Tactics Scales (Straus & Douglas, 2004).
These scales contain eight items, two for each
form of violence, and participants were asked
whether they had experienced each of these
forms of violence.

The research team developed a list of services
and programs based on review of prior litera-
ture and input from staff of agencies providing
services to IPV survivors. The service/program
categories included: medical health care, men-
tal/behavioral health care, economic support, le-
gal services, domestic violence services, and
parenting services. For each service or program,
the participant was asked: a) if she had ever used,
or was currently using, that service/program; b)
if she would be interested in using, or continuing
to use, that service or program for herself; c) if
she thought that the service or program would
meet her current needs; and d) if she thought that
the service or program would help her feel safer.

Procedures

The study protocol was reviewed and ap-
proved by the Institutional Review Board of the
University of Pennsylvania. Participants were
recruited through two venues: a hospital emer-
gency department (screened for IPV and, if eligi-
ble, invited to participate) and community-based
agencies that provide services to women expe-
riencing IPV (recruited through flyers and in-
formation provided by counselors). Eligible and
interested women were invited to complete the
questionnaire at the time of their visit at the hos-
pital or the agency, or to schedule an individ-
ual appointment with a member of the research
team. Participation was voluntary and anony-
mous, and questionnaires were administered in-
dividually and in a private space at the agency
from which the participant was recruited. The
researcher conducted the informed consent pro-
cess with the participant before beginning the
questionnaire.

RESULTS

Sample Description

One-hundred seventy-three women com-
pleted the questionnaire. Demographic, relation-

TABLE 1. Sample Description (N = 173)

Na %

Age
18–25 64 37.4
26–35 47 27.5
36–45 33 19.3
46+ 27 15.8

Race
Black/African American 132 78.6
White/Caucasian 25 14.9
Mixed/Other 11 6.5

Level of Education
Did not finish high school 43 26.9
Completed high school or GED 51 31.9
Some college 50 31.3
Completed college 16 10.0

Employed (Full or Part Time)
Yes 56 35.0
No 104 65.0

Children
Yes 141 81.5
No 32 18.5

Relationship Status
Current 66 38.6
Former 105 61.4

Living with Partner
Yes 46 26.6
No 127 73.4

Psychological Violenceb

Yes 164 97.0
No 5 3.0

Physical Violenceb

Yes 144 86.7
No 22 13.3

Sexual Violenceb

Yes 100 59.5
No 68 40.5

Injuryb

Yes 141 84.9
No 25 15.1

aDue to missing data, some variables do not add to 173; the percent-
age is of those with nonmissing data.
bRefers to victimization by the current/recent partner.

ship, and violence characteristics of the sample
are presented in Table 1. The participants ranged
in age from 18 to 57 years old, with a mean age
of 32.05 years. Almost two thirds (64.9%) of
the participants were younger than 36 years old.
The majority (78.6%) of the participants self-
identified as Black or African American. More
than a quarter of the participants had not finished
high school; only 10% had completed college.
Most (81.5%) of the participants had children.

Participants were asked to provide informa-
tion about a current or recent relationship with

IPV Survivors’ Unmet Service Needs 485

TABLE 2. Service Use, Interest, Need∗

Used Interested Current Need Help to Feel Safer

Health Care (Medical)
Medical Care 97.6 87.8 89.9 76.9

Mental/Behavioral Health Care
Mental Health Care 62.2 71.4 70.7 63.0
Stress Management 35.9 77.6 75.9 62.5
Anger Management 29.7 57.3 59.4 53.5
Alcohol/Drug Counseling 14.2 19.3 19.7 20.9

Economic Support
Financial Assistance 61.0 76.6 76.1 64.0
Housing Assistance 49.4 75.3 75.2 67.2
Employment Assistance 54.2 69.7 70.4 52.6

Legal Services
Law Enforcement 92.8 56.7 47.0 62.3
Legal Assistance 42.2 57.9 56.0 52.3

Domestic Violence Services
Domestic Violence Counseling 38.6 57.9 62.5 56.6
Domestic Violence Shelter 24.8 29.9 28.7 38.0

Parenting Servicesa

Child Care 52.0 58.9 57.1 47.0
Parenting Education/Support 30.2 50.0 47.4 37.5

∗Proportion of all participants who said “yes.”
aOf those who have children.

a male partner. Just over a quarter of the partici-
pants were living together with the partner at the
time of data collection. The majority (61.4%)
of the participants were no longer in a relation-
ship with that partner at the time of data col-
lection. Nearly all of the participants reported
having experienced psychological violence from
the partner. Most (86.7%) reported physical vio-
lence victimization; more than half (59.5%) re-
ported sexual violence victimization, and nearly
85% reported injury due to physical or sexual
violence victimization.

Service Use, Interest, Need

Findings related to service use, interest, and
need are presented in Table 2. Nearly all par-
ticipants (97.6%) had used medical care, and
such services received high endorsement for in-
terest (87.8%), meeting a current need (89.9%),
and helping the participant to feel safer (76.9%).
More than half of all participants (62.6%) said
that they had used general mental health care and
that this service helped them feel safer (63.0%);
more than two thirds (71.4%) said that they were
interested in mental health care and/or that hav-

ing such a service meets or would meet a cur-
rent need (70.7%). Stress and anger management
programs were less frequently used (35.9% and
29.7%, respectively) but received endorsement
from more than half of all participants for inter-
est and need. More than three quarters of partic-
ipants said that they needed or were interested
in using (or continuing to use) a stress man-
agement program. Drug or alcohol counseling
received far less support, but still, nearly one in
five women said that they would be interested in
participating in such a program.

Economic support programs, including direct
financial (cash) assistance, housing assistance,
and employment assistance, received high en-
dorsement, with more than half of all partici-
pants (and in the case of financial and housing
assistance, more than three quarters) reporting
that they have a need for, and are interested in,
using such programs. Both law enforcement and
legal assistance services were endorsed by close
to or more than half of all participants.

Slightly more people were interested in
using, and felt a current need for, domestic
violence shelter services than had actually used
such services. Still, the level of interest and

486 M. E. Dichter and K. V. Rhodes

need for domestic violence shelter services was
lower than that of any other service except for
alcohol or drug counseling. Domestic violence
counseling received more support than domestic
violence shelter services. More than half of all
participants were interested in using domestic
violence counseling services. Participants who
had children were interested in, and felt a current
need for, child care services; more than half said
they needed such services and more than 40%
said that child care services would help them to
feel safer. Half of all participants with children
were interested in parenting education or sup-
port programs, and more than a third said that
such programs would help them to feel safer.

For all services or programs, with the excep-
tion of law enforcement, the proportion of par-
ticipants expressing interest in use was highest
among the subset of participants who had used
that service or program. There was particularly
strong disparity between need and use of stress
management, anger management, and housing
assistance programs (a difference of 40 percent-
age points for stress management and more than
25 percentage points for anger management and
housing assistance), reflecting particular areas of
unmet needs.

DISCUSSION

Limitations

As in most cross-sectional studies collecting
data from nonrepresentative samples, this study
has a number of important limitations. In particu-
lar, the participants were predominantly African
American and from a single urban community,
all with a history of police calls for IPV with a
male partner. Police-involved victims are more
likely to have more severe experiences of IPV
than women whose cases do not come to the at-
tention of police (Bonomi et al., 2006); they may
also have higher rates of severe IPV and perhaps
higher levels of unmet need for a variety of so-
cial services. Participants were recruited from
an emergency department and from community-
based services. Therefore, the results may not be
generalizable to women who do not seek help in
either health care or social service settings, to

women in rural populations, or to women who
experience IPV from a female partner. However,
within the context of urban IPV, this population’s
needs appear to be reflective of other qualitative
and quantitative studies of the barriers to safety
faced by abused women.

Implications

This study found high levels of expressed in-
terest in and need for financial assistance, em-
ployment assistance, and housing, with propor-
tions of participants who had used such services
higher than those found in previous studies (e.g.,
Nuris et al., 2011; Postmus et al., 2009). Eco-
nomic support, including employment and hous-
ing programs, can help women establish inde-
pendence from their partners. A large majority
of participants in this study expressed interest in
and need for employment serves that would help
them to be gainfully employed—women want
and need job training, skills development, and
access to jobs. It is also critical to have employ-
ment policies and practices that support women
who have experienced violence not only to ob-
tain, but also to maintain, employment. Employ-
ment policies that, for example, provide leave for
dealing with the consequences of violence, or al-
low an employee to transfer to another location
to escape from violence, can facilitate a victim’s
future safety. A large majority (more than three
quarters) of the women in this study expressed
interest in and need for housing assistance—not
just shelter but the ability to move into a place
where they could be safe. Housing subsidies,
rent assistance, and tenant or homeowner ad-
vocacy could assist women in gaining freedom
from violence (Menard, 2001).

A large majority of the study participants
also indicated interest in and need for medical
and mental health care, especially stress man-
agement programs. Health care may be viewed
as a standard necessary service to meet a va-
riety of needs, and use of such services may
feel less stigma-associated than use of domes-
tic violence services. Health care can also be an
entry point for identifying IPV and referring sur-
vivors to other necessary services. Studies have
found that a majority of women who have ex-
perienced IPV victimization are supportive of

IPV Survivors’ Unmet Service Needs 487

health care provider screening for IPV and be-
lieve that such screening would help women to
get needed help for IPV (Gielen et al., 2000).
Overall, it seems that women who have experi-
enced police response to IPV have a favorable
view of utilizing health care services for both
their physical and psychological health care and
believe these services can increase their safety.

These high endorsements for economic sup-
port and mental and medical health care contrast
with relatively low interest in the services that
are particularly designated as the traditional re-
sponse to IPV and victim care: law enforcement,
domestic violence counseling, and domestic vi-
olence shelter. The lower levels of endorsement
of these traditional IPV resources may reflect
negative perceptions of these services (e.g., that
they are not helpful) or perceived stigma at-
tached to using these services. Additionally or
alternatively, these critical services may act as a
temporary “Band-Aid” for acute circumstances
but are not viewed as useful for long-term protec-
tion. Without means for gaining independence
from the partner, some women will not be able
to safely escape the violence. However, the po-
lice may potentially serve as an entry point into
other services as many female IPV victims, and
all of the participants in this study, have interac-
tions with police.

Services beyond counseling and shelter can
be administered and facilitated through domestic
violence programs, which may provide support
for a wide variety of needed social services, such
as transportation, financial support, skills educa-
tion, substance abuse treatment, child care, job
training, medical care, legal service, housing,
and parenting needs. These programs, however,
are often severely underfunded, and therefore,
demand for services typically exceeds supply.
Based on a one-day (September 17, 2008) cen-
sus of domestic violence programs across the
country, nearly 9,000 requests for IPV services
were unmet due to lack of resources (primarily
insufficient funding or staff) within the programs
(National Network to End Domestic Violence
[NNEDV], 2009). We may, therefore, need to in-
crease support for domestic violence programs
so that they can begin to meet the demand for
both traditional and nontraditional IPV services.

Some women who have survived IPV may
have a need for social services but are not inter-
ested in seeking those services from a domestic
violence program. It may be appropriate, then, to
target funding to meet the needs of IPV survivors
through other social service programs that may
serve IPV survivors but that are not specifically
designated for this population. Additionally, po-
lice and hospital personnel who may encounter
IPV survivors may be able to help refer indi-
viduals to the services they need, beyond the
traditional victim services.

The findings from this study indicate that sur-
vivors of IPV have a variety of social service
needs, many of which are not classically con-
sidered or funded as domestic violence services.
When we think of domestic violence services,
we need to think more broadly than shelter,
counseling, and advocacy. Coordinated commu-
nity response programs, which have been in
use for more than 20 years (Pence & Shep-
ard, 1999), are focused primarily on the CLS
(offender accountability) and shelter programs.
The results from this study would support
Pennington-Zoellner’s (2009) recommendations
for expanding the community coordination
model to include a broader array of social service
support for IPV survivors.

This study found high levels of unmet
health and social service needs among police-
involved victims of IPV and demonstrated the
perceived relevance of such services for vic-
tims’ sense of safety. Current domestic vio-
lence crisis services, including shelters, ad-
vocacy programs, and policing, are necessary
for temporary refuge from trauma, but with-
out adequate resources to provide or connect
clients with broader health and social services,
these services may not be sufficient for help-
ing women escape and recover from abusive sit-
uations. A broader range of social, economic,
and health care services may have relevance
for long-term safety and recovery. Future re-
search in this area could expand to other pop-
ulations, including those who have not sought
medical, legal, or social support, and could in-
vestigate mechanisms of broadening support ser-
vices to meet the needs of this vulnerable popu-
lation.

488 M. E. Dichter and K. V. Rhodes

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This work was supported by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, National Cen-
ter for Injury Prevention and Control (grant #:
1R49CE001226-01). The authors thank Richard
J. Gelles, PhD, for contributions to the design
of this project and feedback on this article, and
thank the staff of the agencies from which par-
ticipants were recruited, and, most importantly,
the participants themselves. The contents of this
article do not necessarily represent the views of
the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United
States Government.

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain
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    ABSTRACT

    This study looked at 991 women surviving intimate partner violence (IPV), exploring several factors in their receipt
    of IPV services through the child welfare system. A secondary data analysis, the research used longitudinal data
    from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being II, was conducted to evaluate the relationship
    between receiving IPV services and child welfare intervention and between such receipt and demographic
    characteristics. Women in the sample had been substantiated for maltreatment and had lifetime experience of IPV;
    15% of these women had received IPV services. Generalized estimation equation results showed likelihood of
    receiving services increased when the case plan specified needed IPV services. Biological/adoptive mothers
    retaining custody of children were relatively unlikely to receive IPV services, as were lower income women. Receipt
    of services was relatively unlikely at the third-wave interview compared with the first-wave interview, but no
    difference in likelihood of receiving services was found between first- and second-wave interviews. In addition,
    likelihood of receiving services was not associated here with the number of recent IPV episodes, IPV maltreatment,
    mother’s perceived engagement with caseworker, and mother’s race/ethnicity, employment, and education. Some
    implications for practice are discussed.

    FULL TEXT

    Intimate Partner Violence and Child Welfare

    In 2015, U.S. Department of Justice reported over 800,000 intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents nationally,
    involving over 300,000 victims of sexual assault, physical assault, and stalking by partner (Truman & Morgan,

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    Page 2 of 17

    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    2016). The present study focused on IPV, designated “intimate terrorism,” committed against nonviolent women by
    violent males with whom they are engaged in a dysfunctional relationship (M. P. Johnson, 1995, 2006, 2011). The
    children of woman victims of IPV may also experience abuse from the violent male partner; in some cases, the
    woman victims themselves assault children, trying to curb misbehavior likely to anger the IPV perpetrator (Jouriles
    et al., 2008). Studies with perpetrators and victims (no specified gender) have found IPV and child maltreatment to
    co-occur at rates of roughly 40% (Coulter & Mercado-Crespo, 2015; Hazen et al., 2004; Herrenkohl et al., 2008).
    Studies with male perpetrators and female survivors, however, report co-occurrence at rates as high as 89%
    (Jouriles et al., 2008).

    Many studies are consistent in showing that experiencing IPV influences mothers’ parenting behaviors negatively
    (Chiesa et al., 2018; Grasso et al., 2016; Gustafsson et al., 2012; Murray et al., 2012; Ogbonnaya et al., 2019;
    Postmus et al., 2012). Unsurprisingly, according to published results, current and active IPV—although not past
    IPV—demonstrate negative associations with maternal parenting. Victims of current and active IPV have engaged
    in child neglect, psychological aggression, and physical violence (Casanueva et al., 2008; Chang et al., 2008).
    Some research shows recent and continuing severe IPV to elevate likelihood of child maltreatment or its
    reoccurrence (Casanueva et al., 2009; Kohl & Macy, 2008; Taylor et al., 2009). However, one study reports that
    fewer risk factors in child maltreatment typify IPV cases versus neglect cases (Trocme et al., 2013). Moreover,
    some studies have observed no link between experiencing IPV and maternal parenting (Ateah et al., 2019; Sullivan
    et al., 2000) or have found IPV experience to be associated with positive maternal parenting (Greeson et al., 2014;
    Lapierre, 2010; Nixon et al., 2017). In fact, the existence of so-called failure-to-protect laws and their enforcement
    by child welfare agencies is a form of blaming victims for IPV that overlooks IPV perpetrators’ culpability (Alaggia et
    al., 2007; Douglas & Walsh, 2010; Edleson et al., 2006; Ewen, 2007; Jaffe et al., 2003).

    A national study of child welfare cases found that half of mothers actively experiencing IPV were receiving services
    from women’s shelters and IPV programs that helped victims to deal with abusive partners. The risk that
    perpetrators may retaliate against them may deter some women experiencing IPV from attempting to get help. To
    promote help seeking by these women, service providers need to educate the women about a potential adverse
    impact on children exposed to IPV (Randell et al., 2012). However, the proportion may be a result, mainly, of
    inaccurate identification of IPV (Kohl et al., 2005). In addition to child welfare workers’ insufficient training on IPV,
    some counseling services focused on ending abusive relationships that further disempower woman victims (Friend
    et al., 2008; Jaffe et al., 2003 S. P. Johnson & Sullivan, 2008). There are effective interventions, however.
    Examples include group-based programs that aim to empower and support women coping with a variety of
    challenges (Grip et al., 2011) or that educate women on how violence affects individual family members and family
    life (Peled et al., 2010). In addition, interventions focusing on safety plans and parent–child communication can be
    effective (Grip et al., 2012). The present study was an exploration of factors in woman victims’ receipt of IPV
    services within the child welfare system.

    Child Welfare Intervention

    Page 3 of 17

    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    Intervention by child welfare caseworkers facilitates woman victims’ receipt of IPV services. These services include
    counseling/therapy, crisis/outreach intervention, and parenting intervention, all addressing mothers’ mental health
    and parenting skills (Graham-Bermann & Miller-Graff, 2015; Rizo et al., 2011). The literature suggests that when
    caseworkers identify client need for IPV services, clients are relatively likely to obtain them through the child welfare
    system. One indicator establishing the need for IPV services is women’s experience of IPV. Within the child welfare
    system, anywhere from 12.0% to 56.8% of mothers are experiencing active IPV, while anywhere from 29.0% to
    36.4% have lifetime IPV experience (Casanueva et al., 2014; Kohl et al., 2005; Millett et al., 2015). Studies show
    that, among women in the system, anywhere from 20% to 83% receive IPV services they need (Kohl et al., 2005; B.
    D. Smith & Marsh, 2002). Higher likelihood of service receipt among women IPV survivors appears to be associated
    with recent IPV experience (Finno-Velasquez & Ogbonnaya, 2017). Yet, caseworkers may not be well prepared to
    identify the need for IPV services. One study, for example, reported 70% of child welfare caseworkers to have IPV
    training assuring their confidence in their ability to address IPV experienced by clients (Coulter & Mercado-Crespo,
    2015). Another, however, found that one-third to one-half (32%–49%) of foster care caseworkers lacked any IPV-
    related training at all (Renner, 2011a).

    Another indicator establishing the need for IPV services is substantiation of IPV during a woman’s child
    maltreatment investigation. Even when IPV is ongoing, however, the investigation process that often
    substantiates/indicates child abuse/neglect may not be aware of IPV (K. C. Smith et al., 2005). Thus, many women
    surviving IPV are not deemed by a child welfare authority to need IPV services and do not receive them.

    Researchers have reported that just 27% to 57% of caseworkers successfully identified reports of IPV coming from
    children’s caregivers (Casanueva et al., 2014; Kohl et al., 2005). Even when IPV is identified, caseworkers then
    must follow through by entering IPV services in the caregiver’s case plan. Because IPV and other services can be
    mandated in light of substantiation/indication of child maltreatment, caseworkers’ role in women’s receipt of IPV
    services is clearly crucial (Casanueva et al., 2008; Reich, 2005).

    While caseworkers should prepare case plans separately for both mother and IPV perpetrator (Malik et al., 2008),
    male IPV perpetrators often are uninvolved in case planning (Alaggia et al., 2007; Douglas & Walsh, 2010; Edleson
    et al., 2006; Ewen, 2007; Jaffe et al., 2003). Identifying the need for IPV services requires collaborative
    engagement of caseworker with caregiver. Such caregiver–caseworker engagement is built on positive, responsive
    interactions between professionals and caregivers as efforts proceed to identify needs (Jolles & Wells, 2017; Lietz,
    2011) and ensure receipt of needed services along with caregivers’ progress (Cheng & Lo, 2016). Two studies
    suggest, however, that collaborative engagement of caseworkers with women surviving IPV is not typical (Lietz,
    2011; Staudt et al., 2001).

    Caseworker interventions that can affect IPV service receipt also include placement decisions following
    substantiation. In one study, women surviving IPV who kept custody of children following substantiation received
    IPV services at a rate of roughly 50% (Kohl et al., 2005). Women surviving IPV who saw their children enter foster
    care or other placement were comparatively less likely to obtain IPV services, their caseworkers often overlooking
    the requisite referrals (Renner, 2011b).

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    Demographic Characteristics

    At least four demographic characteristics of woman IPV victims—racial/ethnic background, income, employment,
    and education—may relate to their receipt of IPV services within the child welfare system. Where racial/ethnic
    background’s role in receipt of IPV services is concerned, research results appear mixed. One study found no
    significant association between race/ethnicity and receipt of IPV services by women surviving IPV (Kohl et al.,
    2005). Another, of African American women specifically, did observe several racial/ethnic barriers to IPV service
    receipt: inaccessibility of the services, culturally derived perceptions of IPV, and mistrust of service providers (Bent-
    Goodley, 2004).

    Adequate family income in general helps enable individuals to receive health or mental health services. For
    instance, adequate income among women surviving IPV probably helps them secure affordable services
    addressing IPV-related problems. Nevertheless, one study of Latina mothers in the child welfare system showed no
    significant link between family income and mothers’ IPV service receipt (Finno-Velasquez & Ogbonnaya, 2017). A
    plausible explanation of this finding is that low-income women received support from state child welfare agencies
    and Medicaid that enabled some, at least, to obtain IPV services; another explanation is that IPV services are often
    free to woman IPV victims.

    Regarding the impact on help seeking made by employment status and education, prior results again are mixed.
    One study of help seeking in general—not seeking of help for IPV specifically—reported employment to
    demonstrate negative association with help seeking among woman IPV victims (Cheng & Lo, 2014); another,
    however, found no such association (Cheng & Lo, 2015). One prior study of woman IPV victims’ help seeking
    showed it to be associated positively with educational level (Cheng & Lo, 2015), while another, of woman IPV
    victims involved in child welfare, found no significant link between education and receipt of IPV services (Finno-
    Velasquez & Ogbonnaya, 2017).

    Literature on how child welfare intervention may relate to the receipt of IPV services by mothers experiencing abuse
    appears scant. To examine child welfare intervention factors in IPV service receipt, the present study hypothesized
    that the receipt of services by women surviving IPV would be associated with the need for services, with
    specification of service need(s) in case plan, with level of caseworker–caregiver engagement, with type of child
    placement, and with race/ethnicity, family income, employment status, and education of IPV victim.

    Method

    Sample

    The present sample was extracted from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being II (NSCAW-II)
    public-use data set. NSCAW-II contained information collected from a nationally representative sample of 5,872
    children who were involved in child protective services (CPS) between 2008 and 2012 (National Data Archive on
    Child Abuse and Neglect, 2013). Each longitudinal record included a child’s and caregiver’s information from three
    waves of interviews. Information on IPV experience and need for services was collected from caregivers and

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    caseworkers. The present sample was confined to those longitudinal records showing a substantiated or indicated
    instance of child maltreatment in the initial CPS investigation. Such records constituted 61.5% of NSCAW-II’s
    original sample. The present study excluded records with unsubstantiated/non-indicated reports, because they
    suggested either no maltreatment or evidence insufficient to confirm maltreatment. Any service need associated
    with such records would, then, be unrelated to maltreatment. In addition, each record analyzed in the present study
    described a female permanent caregiver (i.e., a biological or adoptive mother) with reported experience of IPV in
    her lifetime. The present study’s final sample comprised 991 mothers meeting all selection criteria.

    The three waves of NSCAW-II interviews were conducted at 6, 18, and 36 months after an initial CPS investigation.
    Therefore, the present study employed the discrete-time method of longitudinal analysis (Allison, 1984; Finkel,
    1995; Singer & Willett, 2003; Yamaguchi, 1991), dividing each longitudinal record into three person-waves (the
    units of analysis). Each person-wave constituted one case in the data file; in all, 1,436 person-waves were
    analyzed, the outcome and explanatory variables being measured for each. Values for some variables could vary
    across interview waves: receipt of IPV services, placement type, and so on. Values for others, including
    race/ethnicity, remained constant (see Table 1). The present study employed time indicators that controlled for
    interview wave, allowing simultaneous comparison of results over time.

    Table 1.

    Characteristics of Outcome and Explanatory Variables.

    Variables Type Collected in
    ithInterview Wave

    Time-Varying
    orTime-Invariant

    Values

    Receipt of IPV services

    Dichotomous First, second, third Time-varying 1/0

    Number of IPV episodes
    Continuous First, second, third Time-varying 0?300

    IPV maltreatment
    Dichotomous First Time-invariant 1/0

    Case plan included IPV
    services

    Dichotomous First, second, third Time-varying 1/0

    Placement at home Dichotomous First, second, third Time-varying 1/0

    Mother?s perceived
    caseworker engagement

    Continuous First, second, third Time-varying ?28.0 to 10.1

    (White) Dichotomous First Time-invariant 1/0

    Latina Dichotomous First Time-invariant 1/0

    African American Dichotomous First Time-invariant 1/0

    Other ethnic minority Dichotomous First Time-invariant 1/0

    Family income Continuous First, second, third Time-varying 1?4

    Employed Dichotomous First, second, third Time-varying 1/0

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    Variables Type Collected in
    ithInterview Wave

    Time-Varying
    orTime-Invariant

    Values

    Educational level Continuous First, second, third Time-varying 1?5

    (First interview wave) Dichotomous First Time-varying 1/0

    Second interview wave Dichotomous Second Time-varying 1/0

    Third interview wave Dichotomous Third Time-varying 1/0

    Note. Reference groups are in parentheses. IPV = intimate partner violence.

    Measures

    The study’s dichotomous (yes/no) outcome variable, receipt of IPV services, noted whether a caseworker reported
    mother’s receipt of IPV services such as domestic violence shelters and other programs designed to promote safety
    and healing from IPV (National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2013). The study also employed four
    groups of explanatory variables. The first group—number of IPV episodes and IPV maltreatment—comprised
    variables representing a mother’s need for IPV services. Number of IPV episodes gave the total number of violent
    incidents a mother reported experiencing from her partner in the year preceding interview. In turn, IPV maltreatment
    (yes/no) stated whether IPV was the most serious type of maltreatment substantiated or indicated in the initial
    investigation, as reported by the caseworker.

    The second explanatory variable group consisted of three measures representing caseworker interventions. Case
    plan included IPV services dichotomously measured whether a caseworker had identified a need for IPV services
    and specified such service in the case plan. Also, a dichotomous measure, placement at home, described
    placement of children at home with the IPV-surviving mother, as reported by caseworker; its reference group
    comprised kinship care and out-of-home care, such as foster care by non-relative or group home or residential
    facility placement. (Types for child placements were developed by NSCAW-II researchers.) Mother’s perceived
    caseworker engagement measured how satisfactorily, according to a mother, a caseworker had engaged her
    collaboratively during the helping process. The present study measured this variable through six items asking
    mothers whether caseworker maintained contact with them, listened to their concerns, showed respect for them,
    explained problems well, invited them to meetings, and involved them in decision making. A three-point response
    scale was used to measure how well a caseworker explained problems. For the remaining five items, a four-point
    response scale measured the given engagement behaviors. In the present analysis, the engagement variable was
    standardized through creation of a z-score for each item, with summing of these six scores to obtain a total score.
    The higher the total score, the stronger the collaborative engagement reported by a mother. For the six items, a
    Cronbach’s alpha of .89 was generated.

    The third group of four explanatory variables represented the woman IPV victims’ demographic characteristics as
    follows. A variable measured race/ethnicity as White (the reference group), Latina, African American, or other ethnic
    minority. Another continuous variable, family income, was measured at four levels reflecting NSCAW-II data: 1
    (below 50% of federal poverty level), 2 (50%–99% of federal poverty level), 3 (100%–200% of federal poverty level),

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    and 4 (above 200% of federal poverty level). The variable educational level was described through five measures: 1
    (no schooling), 2 (GED or high school diploma), 3 (vocational/technical training), 4 (associate’s/bachelor’s degree),
    and 5 (graduate/professional degree). Finally, the dichotomous variable employed (yes/no) indicated whether a
    respondent reported being employed in the 6 months preceding interview.

    The fourth group of explanatory variables comprised two time indicators: second and third interview wave. Each
    specified when a variable had been measured; the reference group was first interview wave. Time’s potential
    association with the outcome was not the focus of this study; nevertheless, the discrete periods were treated as
    variables, providing notable flexibility for the time function within longitudinal analysis (Singer & Willett, 2003).

    Data Analysis

    The outcome variable being dichotomous, this analysis used STATA generalized estimating equations (GEE), with
    Binomial Family and Logit Link options, to estimate the autocorrelations among repeat measurements in the
    longitudinal study (Hardin & Hilbe, 2003). Because some variables were time-invariant, the researchers used
    autoregressive correlation. Moreover, GEE modeling addressed attrition, such as unequal lengths of longitudinal
    records in the present sample (Hardin & Hilbe, 2003). Preliminary analysis of correlations (which ranged from –.44
    to .26) and of tolerance statistics (.7 or higher) suggested no multicollinearity problems among the explanatory
    variables. Barriers to IPV services—service unavailability, client difficulty in accessing service, and/or client refusal
    of service—were noted only in a few person-waves. However, a barrier always led to nonreceipt of the service,
    creating singularities during preliminary multivariate analysis. In an initial assessment of tolerance statistics, the
    variable client’s referral for IPV services generated a multicollinearity problem, necessitating its exclusion from the
    model.

    Results

    Of the 991 mothers providing the data, 31.0% were White, 32.3% were Latina, 29.6% were African American, and
    7.2% were other ethnic minority. Caseworkers had substantiated IPV as the most serious maltreatment type for
    only 10.0% of the 991. Only 15.0% of the 1,436 person-waves indicated that a mother had received an IPV
    service(s) (see Table 2). On average across all person-waves, 11.3 IPV episodes occurring in the past year were
    reported. In 17.3% of all person-waves, a case plan included IPV services, while in 95.2%, a mother’s child was
    placed with her. On average across all person-waves, caseworker engagement received a score of –0.6. Across
    person-waves, family income measures averaged 2.2 (50%–99% of federal poverty level) and educational level
    averaged 2.1 (GED or high school diploma). In 18.4% of all person-waves, a mother reported being employed.

    Table 2.

    Descriptive Statistics of Time-Varying Outcome and Explanatory Variables (n = 1,436 Person-Waves).

    Variables % M Range SD

    Receipt of IPV services

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    Variables % M Range SD

    ?Yes 15.
    0

    ?No 85.
    0

    Number of IPV episodes
    11.
    3

    0?300 30.3

    Case plan included IPV services

    ?Yes 17.
    3

    ?No 82.
    7

    Placement at home

    ?Yes 95.
    2

    ?No 4.8

    Mother?s perceived caseworker engagement
    ?0.
    6

    ?28.0 to 10.1 6.7

    Family income 2.2 1?4 1.0

    Employed

    ?Yes 18.
    4

    ?No 81.
    6

    Educational level 2.1 1?5 0.9

    (First interview wave) 47.
    4

    Second interview wave 31.
    3

    Third interview wave 21.
    4

    Note. IPV = intimate partner violence.

    Results of multivariate analysis confirmed the hypothesized model to differ significantly from the null model (Wald’s
    χ2 = 198.02, p < .01; see Table 3). Likelihood of IPV service receipt significantly increased when a case plan specified IPV services (OR = 101.38, p < .01). Such likelihood was significantly reduced, however, in association with placement in home of biological/adoptive mother (OR = 0.20, p < .01). Negative associations were also found between the outcome and both family income (OR = 0.43, p < .01) and third interview wave (OR = 0.32, p < .01).

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    The present study showed no association between the outcome and the remaining variables (number of IPV
    episodes, IPV maltreatment, caseworker engagement perceived by mother, race/ethnicity, education, employment).

    Table 3.

    Multivariate Analysis Results on Receipt of IPV Services (n = 1,436 Person-Waves).

    Variables OR RSE

    Number of IPV episodes
    1.01 0.00

    IPV maltreatment (no)
    2.28 1.08

    Case plan included IPV services (no)
    101.38** 41.34

    Placement at home (no) 0.20** 0.09

    Mother?s perceived caseworker engagement
    1.02 0.03

    Latina (White) 0.65 0.36

    African American (White) 0.77 0.32

    Other ethnic minority (White) 1.78 0.95

    Family income 0.43** 0.07

    Employed (no) 2.09 0.85

    Educational level 0.80 0.13

    Second interview wave (first interview wave) 1.15 0.38

    Third interview wave (first interview wave) 0.32* 0.18

    Wald?s ?2 198.02*

    *

    Note. Reference groups are in parentheses; IPV = intimate partner violence; OR = odds ratio; RSE = robust
    standard error.

    *

    p < .05. **p < .01.

    Discussion

    In the present study, the observed rate of IPV service receipt, at 15%, was substantially below a prior reported rate,
    83% (Kohl et al., 2005). This discrepancy may stem from the earlier sample’s broader makeup. That sample
    included relatives (other than mother) as permanent caregivers and unsubstantiated as well as substantiated cases.
    The discrepancy may also stem from the fact that 30% of the present sample reported no IPV in the past year, as
    close examination of the present findings ultimately revealed. Finally, because the measures employed in the data
    set did not specify the particular IPV services, the meaningfulness of implications of our findings is necessarily
    limited. That includes implications of the discrepancy between the present finding that IPV services were received

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    by 15% of the present sample and an earlier finding of a far higher rate of receiving such services. It is possible
    that, when abused mothers they served denied experience of IPV, caseworkers referred them for generic IPV
    services that the women found inappropriate or unhelpful.

    The hypothesis obtained partial support from the findings: receipt of IPV services by women surviving IPV was
    associated with their need for services, with specification of service need(s) in case plan, with level of caseworker–
    caregiver engagement, with type of child placement, and with race/ethnicity, family income, employment status, and
    education of IPV victim. The results show a strong positive association between case plans specifying IPV services
    and receipt of IPV services. This suggests that accurate identification of needed services in case plans would help
    mothers receive these services. Contrary to a prior study that extracted Latina mothers’ data from NSCAW-II
    (Finno-Velasquez & Ogbonnaya, 2017), the present study observed no link between mothers’ receipt of IPV
    services and the number of recent IPV episodes or IPV maltreatment type. A plausible explanation is that
    caseworkers considered mothers’ lifetime experience of IPV in determining the need for IPV services. In addition, in
    the present study, no link was observed between the engagement variable and service receipt. This suggests that it
    can be difficult for mothers surviving IPV to build satisfying collaborative relationships with caseworkers (Lietz,
    2011; Staudt et al., 2001).

    The present results contradicted earlier ones obtained for a sample involved in foster care (Renner, 2011b). Unlike
    that prior study, the present study showed that mothers with children in out-of-home placements were more likely to
    obtain IPV services than mothers with children at home. It seems probable that mothers in the present sample were
    eager for IPV services, perhaps expecting the services to facilitate family reunification. Moreover, close examination
    of the present data revealed caseworker interventions to demonstrate positive effects. For instance, the interaction
    term between placement at home and number of IPV episodes was associated in a positive direction with likelihood
    of IPV service receipt (OR = 2.27, p < .05). (The interaction term is not shown in Table 3.) This association indicated that when mothers residing with children experienced relatively many IPV episodes in the home, they became more likely to obtain IPV services, perhaps because caseworkers worked especially diligently to ensure the safety of such vulnerable mothers and children.

    Consistent with findings of a prior study (Kohl et al., 2005), the present study indicated no significant differences
    among racial/ethnic groups as to the likelihood of receiving IPV services. The present outcome variable was not
    associated with education or with employment, supporting further prior findings (Cheng & Lo, 2015; Finno-
    Velasquez & Ogbonnaya, 2017). However, relatively low-income mothers in the present study tended to exhibit
    comparatively high likelihood of obtaining IPV services, a finding that departs from a prior result for Latinas
    suggesting receipt of IPV services is not significantly associated with income (Finno-Velasquez & Ogbonnaya,
    2017). A plausible explanation for the difference is that caseworkers make a special effort to help underprivileged
    mothers get the services they need, regardless of mothers’ racial/ethnic backgrounds.

    The present study observed a negative association between third interview wave and IPV service receipt. Thus, it
    seems that lengthening involvement in the child welfare system leaves mothers surviving IPV less likely to get IPV
    services. One plausible explanation is that caseworkers view as high-risk clients any family in which the mother has

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    experienced IPV; consequently, such mothers are retained in the system for extended periods, but for monitoring
    purposes rather than purposes of supplying IPV services (Alaggia et al., 2015). Such women probably face a
    variety of unresolved problems and persistent barriers to service access. Nevertheless, even for them, caseworker
    specification of IPV services in case plans raised their odds of receiving IPV services.

    Conclusions and Implications for Practice

    The present study obtained evidence of interventions’ key roles in receipt of IPV services by women surviving IPV
    and involved in the child welfare system. While the observed rate of service receipt was low, the impact of
    interventions on that rate was significant. This implies the importance of ongoing training of caseworkers in the
    identification of IPV during child welfare investigations and in proper inclusion of IPV services in case plans, along
    with proper making of referrals to IPV service providers. The findings also imply the potential usefulness of
    caseworkers’ shifting of some of their attention from monitoring mothers as to the welfare of children remaining at
    home, to actively attending to custodial mothers’ progress toward securing needed IPV services. Child welfare
    agencies should, moreover, hire IPV specialists to facilitate IPV identification and associated referrals (Kohl et al.,
    2005). Training for caseworkers should also present skills and strategies for collaboratively engaging woman
    victims of IPV who enter the child welfare system—especially in work with low-income families. Collaborative
    working relationships between caregiver and caseworker will enhance receipt of IPV services by abused mothers.
    Caseworkers who learn why women sometimes stay with abusive partners are better able to avoid victim blaming
    (Moles, 2008), a kind of criticism unconducive to collaborative engagement. For instance, understanding the “power
    and control wheel” often contributes to effective, successful caseworker intervention with clients experiencing IPV
    (Burge et al., 2016; Dutton & Starzomski, 1997; Gondolf, 2010). Successful child welfare agencies, moreover, are
    those that continue to provide caseworkers with cultural competency training—even though the present study saw
    no racial disparities in mothers’ receipt of IPV services.

    Certain limitations constrain the present findings. First, barriers to IPV services and referral to IPV services could
    not be considered in this study after it was determined that the variables meant to measure them demonstrated
    singularity or multicollinearity. Second, since the employed national data did not speak to specific kinds of IPV
    services received by women in the sample, the present study could not pinpoint them either. Furthermore, the
    present study focused on the “receipt” of IPV services whether service delivery was fully completed or not.
    Potentially, some respondents received IPV services that, for whatever reasons, ended prematurely. Since the
    national data set only measured the maltreatment types with the most serious maltreatment type, IPV might be
    indicated during the investigation but not considered as the most serious type of maltreatment in the data set.

    The present study focused on the receipt of IPV services by women surviving IPV. Future research might explore
    specific combinations of IPV services and other services the women might benefit from: mental health care,
    substance-use treatment, employment services, and related help. Future research might also explore whether and
    how receiving IPV services promotes safety, justice, and healing for IPV survivors. Finally, the literature could be
    enriched by the addition of studies exploring one or more specified IPV services received (or not) by women in the

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    child welfare system; exploration should extend to the detection of any barriers likely to face them in accessing
    services.

    Notes

    Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the
    research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.; Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the
    research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.; ORCID iD Tyrone C. Cheng https://orcid.org/0000-0002-
    2335-1677

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    When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

    Classification

    Language: ENGLISH

    Publication-Type: Magazine

    Subject: CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT (90%); CHILDREN (90%); DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (90%); NEGATIVE MISC
    NEWS (90%); NEGATIVE NEWS (90%); NEGATIVE PERSONAL NEWS (90%); PARENTING (90%); SEX
    OFFENSES (90%); ABUSE & NEGLECT (89%); CHILD ABUSE PROGRAMS (89%); CHILD PROTECTIVE
    SERVICES (89%); LAW ENFORCEMENT (89%); PARENTS (77%); MEN (76%); JUSTICE DEPARTMENTS
    (73%); STALKING (73%); TERRORISM (73%)

    Organization: US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (84%)

    Geographic: UNITED STATES (79%)

    Load-Date: November 11, 2021

    End of Document

    Bibliography

    1. When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?,
    Pg. NaN-NaN,

    End of Document

      When Child Welfare Caseworkers Intervene, Do Women Surviving IPV Obtain Recommended Services?

      Body

      Bibliography

      Classification

    lable at ScienceDirect

    Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 27 (2014) 25e28

    Contents lists avai

    Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine

    journal homepage: www.elsevier .com/locate/ jflm

    Case report

    A crisis worker’s observations on the psychosocial support for victims
    and families following child sexual abuse; a case study

    Daniel R Gibney a, b, *, Alyson Jones a

    a Lancashire SAFE Centre, Royal Preston Hospital, Sharoe Green Lane, Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom
    b University of Manchester, United Kingdom

    a r t i c l e i n f o

    Article history:
    Received 11 February 2014
    Received in revised form
    15 May 2014
    Accepted 7 July 2014
    Available online 30 July 2014

    Keywords:
    Forensic medicine
    Child abuse
    Sexual abuse
    Sexual assault
    Psychology

    * Corresponding author. Lancashire SAFE Centre, Ro
    Lancashire, England PR2 9HT, United Kingdom.

    E-mail addresses: danielgibney@doctors.org.uk (
    lthtr.nhs.uk (A. Jones).

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jflm.2014.07.001
    1752-928X/© 2014 Elsevier Ltd and Faculty of Forens

    a b s t r a c t

    The Lancashire Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) centre in Preston saw 204 children aged 16
    and under for examination following allegation of sexual assault in 2013. The psychological impact on
    the child is well known but not always addressed correctly or appropriately; the impact and resulting
    difficulties faced by the parent/carer of the child can also easily go un-noticed.

    Mrs A attended the centre with her 2 year old daughter in 2013, where I was the crisis worker in the
    case. She was contacted five months later and the support they received after attending the centre
    discussed. Her experiences, along with my own anecdotal experiences are discussed. Independent Sexual
    Assault Advisors (ISVAs) offer support following attendance at the centre, and various charitable orga-
    nisations offer counselling, emotional and practical support. Health visitors, paediatricians, school nurses
    and social workers also play a role in looking after children and families following allegations of assault.
    However, the organisations and agencies involved in psychological aftercare for victims and parents are
    hindered by strict referral criteria and lack of funding or appropriate specialist expertise. The psycho-
    logical, educational and behavioural support for parents and children, and specifically pre-trial coun-
    selling for children need significant improvement if we are to offer the best support for victims.

    © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and Faculty of Forens

    ic and Legal Medicine. All rights re

    served.

    1. Introduction

    The Lancashire SAFE centre, a sexual assault referral centre
    (SARC) covering the whole of Lancashire and Cumbria, saw 204
    cases of alleged sexual assault against children aged 16 and under
    in the year 2013 compared to 158 in 2012, an increase of 29%.1 It
    provides a 24/7 service all year round, and since opening in October
    2002 to the end of 2013, a total of 2358 complainants aged 16 and
    under have been through the centre.1 35.1% of all cases were aged
    16 and under, with a significant proportion aged between 14 and
    19.1 A dedicated Children’s Examination Suite was opened in
    October of 2012, and it is possible that the availability of the suite
    and of paediatric examiners resulted in an increase in referrals for
    examination (amongst other factors). The increase in cases na-
    tionally, not just in Lancashire and Cumbria, has created an
    increased demand for specialist services. However it may also be
    that cases are being managed more comprehensively and the

    yal Preston Hospital, Preston,

    D.R. Gibney), alyson.jones@

    ic and Legal Medicine. All rights re

    psychological needs of victims are now being addressed more
    thoroughly, leading to an increase in referrals to other agencies.

    Complainants are seen and examined at the centre, and appro-
    priate follow up arranged; be it with Genito-Urinary Medicine,
    Paediatrician referral, Social Services or via General Practitioner
    correspondence. Two dedicated Independent Sexual Violence Ad-
    vocates (ISVA) follow up those seen at the centre, should they wish
    to access their support. One of these ISVAs is specifically for adults;
    the other is a Children’s and Young Person’s Advocate (CYPA), seeing
    children and their parents/carers, offering emotional and practical
    support as well as advising parents/carers of the process after
    attending the centre and of the criminal proceedings. They do not
    offer counselling but signpost or refer on to other services if psy-
    chological therapy or counselling is requested. The follow up for
    psychological support however, is less clear cut and the case below
    highlights how difficult organising psychological support can be.

    2. Case study

    2.1. Background

    Child A, the daughter of Mr and Mrs Awas brought to the centre
    in August 2013 following a disclosure which resulted in a police

    served.

    Delta:1_given name

    Delta:1_surname

    mailto:danielgibney@doctors.org.uk

    mailto:alyson.jones@lthtr.nhs.uk

    mailto:alyson.jones@lthtr.nhs.uk

    http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1016/j.jflm.2014.07.001&domain=pdf

    www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/1752928X

    http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jflm

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jflm.2014.07.001

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jflm.2014.07.001

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jflm.2014.07.001

    D.R. Gibney, A. Jones / Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 27 (2014) 25e2826

    referral. Mr and Mrs Awere married and had two children between
    them; Child A- a female and Child B, a male. Child A, aged two, was
    accompanied by Mrs A and the police for examination, having
    disclosed that she had been touched on her bottom by her Father,
    Mr A. Although examination was unremarkable and no signs of
    injury found, it was impossible to say if anything had happened. Mr
    A denied the allegation, stating he had simply been cleaning Child A
    whilst changing her nappy and that this had been misinterpreted
    by Child A. The police soon closed the case due to a lack of evidence
    and social services continued to manage the case, with Mrs A being
    the sole carer. Mr A was estranged from Mrs A but subsequently
    allowed supervised contact with Child A.

    Telephone contact was made with Mrs A five months later and
    her experiences after attending the centrewere discussed at length.
    She said she could not fault our work at the centre but the aftercare
    she has received has been extremely poor and described the
    experience as “hell”. Social services received an appropriate referral
    from the police for Child A and they began investigating the case.
    Mrs A stated social services had “caused nothing but distress”
    during their initial investigation. Instead of supporting her through
    the ordeal, she claims they would turn up unannounced and ask to
    enter the house. Mrs A felt the social services investigation was not
    explained to her and she often felt interrogated herself. They would
    not discuss the case investigation with her, stating there were data
    protection issues with obtaining the social services report; she
    describes the process as being far from transparent, “cloaked” and
    secretive, with little information available for her. She told me she
    sometimes worries that they could take her children away from her
    and wonders what would happen should one of them ever bangs
    their head or ends up in A&E. She says she has no idea of what she
    should be doing as a mother and whether she is doing the right
    things for her daughter. Fivemonths down the line, she felt the only
    person she was getting psychological support from was in fact her
    divorce solicitor.

    The breakdown of her marriage did nothing to help the psy-
    chological wellbeing of Mrs A, and the inconclusive examination
    findings put her in an uncomfortable, uncertain position. Mrs A says
    Mr A is allowed contact with Child A but she doesn’t knowwhether
    this is beneficial or more damaging for her daughter and no-one
    has been able to offer her advice on this issue. Mrs A told me she
    truly wishes that Mr A’s story is true but deep down she is doubtful.
    The ISVA at the centre had made contact with her, but Mrs A stated
    she wanted to put her experiences and connection with the centre
    behind her so that she could “move on.”

    As a 30-something, professional full time, working mother, she
    wants to knowwho to turn to if her child makes another disclosure
    or starts talking about the incident again. What does she say to her
    child and how should she react? Should she ignore or acknowledge
    it and who should she contact if this happens? She wonders if
    there will be any long term consequences and should she ever tell
    her daughter about what happened. I couldn’t answer those
    questions for her but clearly the need for a specialist counsellor or
    psychologist for parents following child sexual abuse is dire. A
    health visitor sees the family every so often and indeed suggested
    referral to a psychological support service for Mrs A herself, but
    was told “I can’t do a referral on your behalf because we will get
    charged.”

    3. Discussion

    The above scenario is not uncommon; many parents coming to
    the centre find themselves in a similar position and non-offending
    parents in cases of intra-familial sexual abuse experience signifi-
    cant difficulty as a result.2,3 The child is not the only victim in these
    cases.

    The psychological implications of rape and sexual assault are
    extreme but also vary from person to person.2 In cases involving
    children it is nearly always the mother who brings them to the
    centre, often the perpetrator is somebody known to her or the
    child, most often the biological father, stepfather, uncle, another
    carer, or sometimes a sibling.1,4 Not only does the parent have to
    deal with the fact their child has been sexually abused and the
    subsequent implications that this can have on behaviour, friend-
    ships, school and child care, but they often have to deal with their
    own personal turmoil, feelings of guilt and self-blame.2 In addition,
    they often have to deal with a separation of some sort, be it from
    their partner, spouse, sibling, parent etc. Social difficulties or
    problems at work, as well as their own psychological wellbeing are
    often overlooked.2,3 This can be because the parent is “fine” and
    focussed on caring for their child and denies the need for help, but
    we also need to recognise the parent or carer is a victim too.

    Until recently, counselling could be provided at the centre to
    those wishing to access it. Funding for this was reorganised and
    complainants are now signposted to other agencies or charities for
    follow up psychological support instead. The way children and
    parents access aftercare can be somewhat of a grey area. Some of
    these organisations are under immense financial pressure and it is
    well known charities have taken huge hits to their budgets since
    the beginning of the recession.

    Unfortunately finances, waiting lists, organisational or
    geographical issues are obstacles that prevent or delay victims from
    receiving the best possible care. Mrs A was told to arrange her own
    self-referral because the health visitor’s department would get the
    bill. She never made that self-referral. Victims often need to seek
    help from these agencies or charities themselves, and although the
    SAFE centre make every effort to signpost and refer onto relevant
    organisations, it can be difficult to get these organisations or
    agencies to accept the referrals.

    Many parents or carers would not necessarily know who to
    contact in the future, or neglect the fact they themselves are in need
    of support as well as the child. They may not wish to make contact
    with the centre again (likeMrs A), or may not feel confident enough
    to self-refer to other organisations so it is important to be
    approachable and open minded when dealing with parents. The
    feelings Mrs A describes are somewhat part of a normal grief pro-
    cess, but self-blame can also be linked to the theory of secondary
    victimisation.2e5

    The Survivor’s Trust can offer therapy and specialist counselling
    sessions, as can various other organisations but these are incredibly
    location dependant with variable waiting times. Most of these
    services only take adult victims, not parents or children. Specialist
    behavioural psychology and counselling services for children who
    have been sexually assaulted and their parents are unavailable as it
    is an extremely specialised area. CAMHS (Child and Adolescent
    Mental Health Services) will not accept these cases due to strict
    criteria, a lack of specialist expertise or funding. CAMHS would be
    an ideal organisation to work with parents or carers of children
    displaying behavioural or psychological problems following abuse
    due to their vast experience of child psychology. Educational sup-
    port is scarce and there are extremely limited specific services for
    dealing with the immediate psychological and behavioural prob-
    lems faced and how parents/carers should manage them. Teachers
    are often informed via the school nurse or social services and can
    help with behavioural issues in school, as long as they are made
    aware and have the time and skills to do so.

    Counselling and psychological therapy for victims has proven
    benefits, and is recommended by the Crown Prosecution Services
    (CPS), the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine and the Royal
    College of Paediatrics and Child Health.6e8 Working Together to
    Safeguard Children, guidance produced by the Department of

    D.R. Gibney, A. Jones / Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 27 (2014) 25e28 27

    Education also states the need for psychological support following
    abuse.9 Counselling is known to improve the psychological well-
    being of the child long term, to improve confidence and self-
    esteem, as well as building back trusting relationships.7 A variety
    of psychiatric conditions are associated with child sexual abuse;
    depression, anxiety, personality disorders, suicidality and schizo-
    phrenia to name a few; thus the more early support these children
    have the better to avoid these problems and to also deal with them
    early should they arise.2,5,10

    Post-traumatic stress disorder is sometimes seen in children
    following abuse; counselling and psychotherapy such as cognitive
    behavioural therapy helpminimise the long term impact of this and
    reduce the risk of secondary victimisation, but the general practi-
    tioner is also important in managing this and other mental health
    issues.2e5,10

    Immediately following the abuse and before trial is arguably
    when the child is most vulnerable but when intervention is most
    needed; the CPS has specific guidance advocating pre-trial therapy
    and it is a misconception that children should not receive pre-trial
    therapy.8 ISVAs can support the child and carers through the court
    process, go on court visits, and explain the court process to relieve the
    fears and unfamiliarity surrounding the trial.1 However, if psycho-
    therapy and counselling are offered at an early and appropriate stage,
    the childmay be in amuch bettermental state andmore prepared for
    the trial.6e10 It is important not to rush any therapy close to trial or to
    commence it too soon after the abuse and each child should have
    therapy tailored to their specific needs.7,8 If these issues are dealtwith
    early, the stresses and anxieties about the abuse can be reduced so
    that the court and evidence process are less traumatic.7,8

    The collapse of criminal cases where children have become too
    distressed to give evidence at trial, especially during cross-
    examination is devastating and arguably avoidable.7e10 NSPCC
    research in 2013 found that just 2% of all child witnesses in sexual
    abuse trials had received appropriate pre-trial therapy, yet over 50%
    admitted having difficulty sleeping and eating, depression, panic
    attacks and self-harming prior to the trial and the CPS is ultimately
    responsible for organising therapy for witnesses.8,10 However,
    psychotherapy and counselling will not be appropriate for all
    children; an individualised approach should be taken to each
    child.7e9 Surely we should deal with issues as soon as possible so
    that the child and their parents/carers are as prepared for giving
    evidence at trial as possible and prepared to support the child.
    Additional funding, training and resources should be offered to
    ensure pre-trial therapy is delivered adequately, thoroughly and at
    an appropriate time to all children in need of it.

    Many of the organisations that offer counselling and psycho-
    therapy refuse to accept children pre-trial because of the myth that
    it is in some way tampering with evidence or “coaching” the
    child.7,8 More established, larger sexual assault counselling services
    only see adult cases and are unable to accept children or their
    parents/carers unless they have been abused themselves.1

    Furthermore, if a child has not directly been abused but has wit-
    nessed sexual abuse or is displaying worrying, sexualised behav-
    iour or signs of abuse, they are often not eligible for a referral on
    that alone.1 It is only once an allegation specifically regarding the
    child has been made and a police case opened will agencies like the
    NSPCC then accept a referral.1

    Although support can be offered by numerous agencies, there
    isn’t always the continuity of care that some vulnerable victims
    need. A well trained counsellor or social worker who has a good
    rapport with the victim and their family should be able to provide
    care for as long as they need. Handover of care or multiple referrals
    to different agencies, involving different people isn’t always in the
    victim’s best interests. This is especially so in children where it can
    takemuch longer for them to build a rapport, and the importance of

    using the same social worker or foster placements where available
    is underestimated.1

    Guidelines state trained counsellors with specialist expertise
    should be available for all victims of sexual assault, be it children or
    adults.4e8,10 In our opinion, this should extend toparents or carers of
    abused children too. Although the ISVAs at the centre have awealth
    of experience and much to offer, they are not trained counsellors
    and do not have formal counselling qualifications.1 There are pros
    and cons to having ISVAs not giving counselling; some may wish to
    separate their experiences in counselling from the more long term
    ISVA support, whereas some may have difficulty building up a
    rapportwith a newperson. The ISVAs at the centre are an invaluable
    asset but there is room for extension of their role.

    3.1. Recommendations

    ISVAs could work as part as a multi-agency effort to empower
    and help victims and their families, whilst remaining independent.
    Ideally, a more structured, national system should be put in place so
    that these services are not location dependant and funding pro-
    tected. These issues are not new to local commissioners, and the
    passing on of responsibility of commissioning sadly hinders
    progress.

    Schools play an important role in identifying and managing
    children. Often a senior teacher or the school nurse liaises with the
    child and parents/carers and schools have a statutory responsibility
    for safeguarding. Furthermore, the liaison between schools, social
    services and police are thorough from our experience; sharing in-
    formation and multi-agency communication is now well recog-
    nised.1 Educational psychologists and CAMHS could be more
    available or trained to deal with educational and psychosocial is-
    sues in schools should they arise and be ready to intervene early.

    It is well known multi-agency working is beneficial in all or-
    ganisations, especially in the NHS. A multidisciplinary approach
    involving CAMHS, psychologists, counsellors, school nurses,
    teachers and teaching assistants, health visitors, general practi-
    tioners, social workers and parents could be adopted. A tailored,
    early, multi-agency approach to the care of children and their
    families could decrease the long term impact of the abuse.

    Social services often take charge of case management; case
    conferences ran by the local authority invite all relevant pro-
    fessionals for a multi-disciplinary conference where the case is
    discussed. It could be suggested that a wider range of professionals
    are invited to case conferences, including representatives from the
    school, counsellors, ISVAs and anyone else involved with the child
    to ensure a more holistic approach to their care. Most importantly,
    these discussions need to be communicated thoroughly with all
    relevant professionals.

    In the aftermath of the recent high profile historic sex abuse
    scandals in the U.K. involving Jimmy Saville et al., surely we should
    take this opportunity for debate to develop a more comprehensive
    and thorough system to ensure we look after the psychological
    wellbeing of all victims properly. Investigating allegations, gaining
    forensic evidence and criminal prosecutions are all important, but
    the psychological wellbeing of children, parents and families
    should also be a priority.

    A national, structured system should be commissioned, perhaps
    centrally to avoid local variation in services. These services could be
    provided in SARCs in association with ISVAs, but could also be
    provided in the community if victims do not want to revisit the
    same place they had their examination. The role of a specialist
    counsellor who can offer psychological support, educational and
    behavioural advice, social support as well as supporting and
    counselling parents/carers should be considered. These could run
    parallel to the charities already offering some of these services;

    D.R. Gibney, A. Jones / Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 27 (2014) 25e2828

    some of which could merge to ensure continuity of care. A sexual
    assault case manager could be established to look after the child
    and family whilst working alongside other professionals. Further-
    more, we should also consider developing and distributing more
    thorough advice for parents and other professionals, detailing the
    aftercare available, what will happen next as well as how tomanage
    the child’s behavioural and psychological needs.

    Ethical approval
    None declared. Patient consent obtained.

    Funding
    None.

    Conflict of interest
    I declare there are no conflicting interests of either author.

    References

    1. Lancashire SAFE Centre. Royal Preston Hospital, Lancashire teaching Hospitals.
    Preston: NHS Foundation Trust; January 2014.

    2. Beitchman JH, Zucker KJ, Hood JE, DaCosta GA, Akman D, Cassavia E. A review
    of the long-term effects of child sexual abuse. Child Abuse Negl 1992;16:
    101e18.

    3. Corcoran J. Treatment outcomes research with the non-offending parents
    of sexually abused children: a critical review. J Child Sex Abuse 2004;13:
    59e84.

    4. Roesler TA, Wind TW. Telling the secret: adult women describe their disclo-
    sures of incest. J Interpers Violence 1994:327e38.

    5. Campbell R, Raja S. Secondary victimization of rape victims: insights from
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    Fall;14(3):261e75. PMID: 10606433.

    6. Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child
    Health. Guidelines on paediatric forensic examinations; October 2012.

    7. Crown Prosecution Service. Guidelines on prosecuting cases of child sexual
    abuse [online]. Available at: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/child_sexual_
    abuse [accessed 09.02.14].

    8. Crown Prosecution Service. Provision of therapy for child witnesses prior to a
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    prosecution/therapychild.html [accessed: 09.02.14].

    9. Working together to safeguard children: a guide to inter-agency working to
    safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Great Britain: Department of
    Education; August 2013.

    10. NSPCC. Press release: courts unjust to child sex abuse witnesses. Published 7th
    October 2013 [online]. Available at: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/news-and-
    views/media-centre/press-releases/2013/child-witnesses/courts-unjust-to-
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    • A crisis worker’s observations on the psychosocial support for victims and families following child sexual abuse; a case study
    • 1 Introduction

      2 Case study

      2.1 Background

      3 Discussion

      3.1 Recommendations

      Ethical approval

      Funding

      Conflict of interest

      References

    Work and Occupations
    37(3) 320 –348

    © The Author(s) 2010
    Reprints and permission: http://www.
    sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav

    DOI: 10.1177/0730888410373331
    http://wox.sagepub.com

    The Missing Customer
    and the Ever-Present
    Market: Software
    Developers and the
    Service Economy

    Seán Ó Riain1

    Abstract

    Although some software engineers and developers work directly with the
    final users of their product to generate customized software, many do not.
    However, drawing on an ethnographic study of software developers in a
    U.S. firm in Ireland, this article argues that both software developers who
    work closely with customers and those who do not can be thought of as
    “service workers.” The article extends the analysis of the “service triangle”
    of workers, managers, and customers to software workers who interact
    with customers in the software development and support process. It then
    uses the case of software workers who do not interact with customers to
    rethink our definition of what counts as service work. For these workers,
    the customer also looms large in the workplace—but only as an abstract
    entity to which they should respond and be attentive, mobilized through
    organizational mechanisms that transmit and simulate market pressures
    rather than through concrete interactions with customers themselves. The
    irony is that an organization of production that mobilizes the customer as the
    driving force of the production process ultimately, and largely unintentionally,
    marginalizes the customer as irrational and incompetent—an outsider in the
    service economy, with little input into the technologies they end up using.

    1National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland

    Corresponding Author:
    Seán Ó Riain, Department of Sociology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co. Kildare,
    Ireland
    Email: Sean.oriain@nuim.ie

    Ó Riain 321

    Keywords

    software, service work, markets, professional work, knowledge economy

    Although some software engineers and developers work directly with the
    final users of their product to generate customized software, many do not.
    The sociology of service work has provided important insights into the trans-
    formation of work when we add customers to the classic relation between
    managers and workers. However, whether they work directly with customers
    or not, software developers work in the service economy. Drawing on an
    ethnographic study of software developers in a U.S. firm in Ireland, this arti-
    cle examines software development through the lens of the service economy
    to rethink our understandings of both software work and service work.

    This article contributes to the literature on service work in two ways. First,
    it extends the analysis of the “service triangle” of workers, managers, and
    customers to software workers who interact with customers in the software
    development and support process. In this respect, it applies the existing para-
    digm to an occupation that is rarely conceptualized in that light (but see Bar-
    ley & Kunda, 2004; Stinchcombe & Heimer, 1988). Second, it uses the case
    of software workers who do not interact with customers to rethink our defini-
    tion of what counts as service work. The customer also looms large in the
    world of software developers who never deal directly with customers them-
    selves. For these workers, the customer also appears as an abstract entity to
    which they should respond and be attentive—but through organizational
    mechanisms that transmit and simulate market pressures, not through con-
    crete interactions with customers themselves.

    The article asks, for both groups of software workers, what are the pro-
    cesses through which customers, real and abstract, appear in software work.
    What are the conditions that enable this? How is software work changed by
    the presence of the customer? To answer these questions requires that we
    expand the terms on which we have approached the sociology of service
    work.

    Service Work, Service Triangles,
    and the Service Economy
    Korczynski (2009) defines front line service work as “work undertaken
    where the central job task involves interaction with a service-recipient and
    where the job status is below that of professional” (p. 952). This definition
    clearly identifies some central elements of the understanding of service work
    in sociology, two of which are critical to this article. First, research has

    322 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    focused on workers below the professional level—workers who are rela-
    tively weak in the labor market and often disempowered in their relations not
    only with managers but also with customers. Second, our understanding of
    the service triangle has been fundamentally interactional—the triangle oper-
    ates as real relations between actors who meet in the workplace. In particular,
    analyses of service work focus on relations between the producers of a ser-
    vice (or occasionally a good) and the final users or consumers of that ser-
    vice.1 At the risk of blurring the focused lens of the sociology of service
    work, in this article I seek to expand each of these dimensions of Korczyns-
    ki’s definition of front line service work.

    The Curious Case of Professionals and Service Work
    Korczynski (2009) defines service work as confined to workers below the
    level of professionals. However, although this serves to focus attention on a
    clearly defined group of workers, it may in fact make it more difficult to
    identify which features of the service work experience are linked to the inter-
    actional work in the service encounter and which are linked to a more general
    weakness in the labor market and the workplace. Examining professional
    workers allows us to examine the varieties of service relationships that exist
    in the workplace, particularly given that professionals are often dominant
    partners in such relationships (Abbott, 1988). Indeed, sociologists examining
    professional work have often been more concerned to protect the “service
    recipient” from the “service worker” rather than to critique their power as
    customers.

    Most professionals have in one way or another been service providers,
    often interacting on an ongoing basis with the service recipients. Professional
    work was an early form of marketized service work, operating typically from
    a position of high status and often dealing with relatively privileged clients.
    The development of the welfare state and the corporate economy has shifted
    these relations somewhat as the typical professional service interaction has
    shifted from the face-to-face relation to a contracting client to professionals
    acting in the service of hierarchical employers (public and private) to manage
    and “serve” that organization’s “clients.” Furthermore, it appears that “pro-
    fessionalism” as a mode of organization has been losing ground in the face of
    the commercialization of professional work—transforming the social rela-
    tions of professional work and professional identities (e.g., Hanlon, 1994, on
    accountants, and Barley & Kunda, 2004, on software contractors).

    Previous research has shed significant light on the forces shaping software
    developers’ work lives. For example, Perlow (1997) finds that long hours are

    Ó Riain 323

    reinforced by the job insecurity of the industry. Workers dedicate themselves
    intensely to one project so that they will be asked to participate in the next, in
    what Perlow calls a “vicious work–time cycle.” Similarly, Sharone’s (2004)
    study of a Silicon Valley software team shows that the pressure to work long
    hours and commit to work above all else is reinforced by individualized pay
    structures. Software developers are ranked in relation to one another, so that
    their “performance pay” becomes what is in essence “competition pay,” driv-
    ing a competitive pressure to work longer and display a greater commitment
    than their colleagues.

    If labor markets matter, so do the forms of coordination and organization
    of software work. Perlow (2001) finds significant interfirm and cross-national
    variability in hours and in time norms in software workplaces in India, China,
    and Hungary. She links this to the modes of coordination within firms where
    individualized relationships created a demand for long and overlapping time
    schedules where more structured team-based patterns of organization allowed
    for better management of time. Deadlines, driven by crisis management,
    reinforced the pressures associated with project work (Ó Riain, 2000; Per-
    low, 1997). Outside the firm, although peers in the software developer occu-
    pational community could be a resource in coping with the twin pressures of
    intense work and job insecurity, the need to maintain reputation among the
    peer group could also be a further source of pressure on workers (Barley &
    Kunda, 2004; Osnowitz, 2006).

    These pressures seemed less extreme in Ireland—the hours worked
    appear somewhat fewer than in the United States (although good data are
    hard to find), and research by Aileen O’Carroll (2004) shows that, in many
    Irish firms, workers were able to impose a set of time norms of their own,
    which included a more reasonable set of expectations around working to
    deadlines and restricting longer hours. Nonetheless, O’Carroll finds that
    some firms were characterized by exceptionally long hours, partly because
    the lack of industry norms around working hours allowed for a great deal of
    variability at the level of the firm. For website production workers, Damarin
    (2006) finds that “fluid jobs allow workers some autonomy in production,
    but little control over the wider organization of work” (p. 429)—again
    allowing for significant pressures and variability, even as workers have sig-
    nificant autonomy in work itself.

    Lurking behind these pressures from the labor market and forms of orga-
    nizational coordination is the ever-present shadow of the market, experienced
    as an intense set of pressures—even if somewhat indirectly. We know rela-
    tively little about the mechanisms through which these market pressures

    324 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    manifest themselves within the software workplace. The shift of professional
    work more firmly within hierarchies has combined with commercialization
    of professional work to place professionals more firmly within the triad of
    worker, manager, and customer that is at the heart of service work. Profes-
    sionals may experience the same pressures from customers and service inter-
    actions as other service workers, despite their greater relative power. This is
    particularly the case with professions, such as software, that do not exercise
    the kinds of tight occupational control and closure as the most traditionally
    high-status professions (such as law and medicine). Such professions have
    been incorporated within state and corporate hierarchies since early in their
    occupational histories and have typically exerted much less control over
    labor supply and other processes of social closure.

    Frenkel, Korcyznski, Shire, and Tam (1999) have examined software
    development as a form of frontline service work. They find significant differ-
    ences between the work of software developers in “knowledge-intensive”
    workflows and that of sales or service workers. The software developers are
    more interdependent with their service recipients, service is negotiated, and
    there is a significant degree of ambiguity regarding who constitutes the most
    powerful party in the service relation. Significantly, Frenkel et al. find that
    although customers can be a source of significant pressure for professional
    workers, the service triangle is characterized by varying degrees of discon-
    nection among its different elements and shifting and varying alliances between
    customers, managers, and workers.

    Similarly, Barley and Kunda (2004) document the complexities for soft-
    ware contractors of navigating between clients, staffing agencies, and occu-
    pational communities. For these workers, clients are a regular and direct
    presence in their working lives. But in the process of entering the service
    economy, software developers were pushed to renegotiate the meaning of
    professionalism itself:

    To close deals contractors also had to engage in complex, threeway
    bargaining with hiring managers and agents. This process exposed
    contractors to an unexpected reality. Bargaining was more than just
    haggling over rates that maximized income. Contractors discovered
    that they also had to negotiate the very definition of their skills. . . .
    There was always a gap between what contractors believed they could
    do, what they said they could do, and what the clients claimed they
    wanted. To land a job, contractors had to identify and bridge this gap.
    (Barley & Kunda, 2006, pp. 48-49)

    Ó Riain 325

    Software developer contractors were defined as much by their service work
    as by their professionalism—and the two were blended in their everyday
    lives. In those everyday lives, their often rewarding opportunities were bal-
    anced by significant anxiety and insecurity—which were aggravated by an
    institutional context that assumed firm-based, bureaucratically organized
    employment.

    The implications of Barley and Kunda’s (2006) study and Frenkel et al.’s
    (1999) discussion of software and other professionals in knowledge-inten-
    sive work processes is that an analysis of service work remains highly rele-
    vant to professional workers. However, we still know relatively little about
    how such an analysis can inform our understanding of the software work
    process or about the mechanisms that link these broader conditions of the
    service economy to work itself. This gap is particularly wide for software
    developers who work for employers, rather than as contractors. Such an anal-
    ysis requires an extension of the fundamentally interactional framework
    through which we have understood service work to date.

    Dancing With Triangles: From Customer
    Interactions to Product Markets
    The “service triangle” of customer, worker, and manager has been central to
    the enlightening analyses of service work that have proliferated in recent
    years. This has brought us important new insights into the organization of
    work and the politics of new forms of work and has sharpened our focus on
    aspects of work that had previously been neglected—including emotions
    (Hochschild, 1983; Lopez, 2006) and the body (Lan, 2001). However, although
    interaction with service recipients appears to be increasing, it is neither
    universal nor necessarily synonymous with the service economy.

    The “service work triangle” is a significant element of the service econ-
    omy but does not fully describe its social relations. The significance of the
    customer’s presence in service interactions is that the pressures of product
    markets are brought directly into the interactional world of the service
    worker. In the classic dyadic view of the workplace, workers were subject to
    the pressures of organizational hierarchies and labor markets but remained
    somewhat insulated from the competitive pressures in product markets,
    which loomed large for their employers. The “service triangle” focuses on
    interaction with customers as the primary mechanism through which product
    market pressures are introduced into the workplace—it connects service
    work and the service economy.

    326 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    However, a focus on “service triangles” neglects the diverse range of
    mechanisms that can transmit product market pressures into the workplace.
    For some, all workers and workplaces now exist within an economy where
    “meeting the demands of the ‘sovereign’ consumer becomes the new and
    overriding institutional imperative” (Keat & Abercrombie, 1991, p. 3). A
    “culture of the customer” plays a critical role in incorporating workers into a
    market society (DuGay & Salaman, 1992). For DuGay and Salaman (1992),
    the macro-level trends toward marketization are linked to internal organiza-
    tional processes through a discourse of enterprise within which “the cus-
    tomer” plays a critical role in linking “external” and “internal” processes
    (p. 617). In this view, increased awareness of customers and other “service
    recipients” and the rhetorical mobilization of the “sovereign consumer” bring
    the dynamic of service work triangles into multiple different kinds of work-
    places. However, this approach substitutes a totalizing macro-level view for
    the interactional level of analysis, weakening our ability to analyze the diver-
    sity of ways in which service work and service economy are connected.

    More promising is Fuller and Smith’s (1991) analysis of managerial use of
    customer feedback to manage employees—what they call “management by
    customers” or “consumer control.” The incorporation of customer feedback
    (through comment cards, evaluations, etc.) becomes an important tool for
    managers in redesigning work processes and in controlling individual
    employees. Crucially, for our purposes, this work identifies one of the mech-
    anisms through which organizations can mobilize the “service economy”
    within the workplace.

    Similarly, one of the goals of this article is to explore how software work
    is shaped by its location within a service economy, without sacrificing the
    rich analysis of concrete organizational and social processes that has charac-
    terized studies of service work to date. The move to the macro level of analy-
    sis opens up the analysis of work in the service economy and not simply the
    analysis of service work itself (Glucksmann, 2009; Sallaz, 2002). However,
    in that move, the specificity, empirical richness, and groundedness of the
    sociology of interactional service work can be lost.

    The analysis of organizational processes is crucial to avoiding this, and
    this has directed analysts to pay increased attention to the place of service
    work within the “hegemonic regime” of the workplace (e.g., Sallaz’s, 2002,
    study of casino dealers, and Sherman’s, 2007, study of luxury hotel workers)
    or the broader social formations of labor (Glucksmann, 2009). Lopez (2006)
    argues that the relations of service work are profoundly influenced by the
    organization of the workplace itself. In his study of a nursing home, Lopez
    (2006) finds “an organization that self-consciously tried to create structural

    Ó Riain 327

    opportunities for meaningful social relationships between caregivers and cli-
    ents” and where there was “organizational support for ongoing human rela-
    tionships in which the emotional rules can be renegotiated by the participants”
    (p. 134). Such a perspective integrates the insight that managers and organi-
    zations profoundly shape how “the customer” enters the service triangle and
    the perspective that emotional and service work can take both troubling and
    potentially enriching forms.

    Similarly, I conceptualize the service work triangle as just one element of
    a broader phenomenon of the increasing interpenetration of organizational
    hierarchies (and markets for governance), labor markets, and product mar-
    kets. In addition to the extension of the dominant “service triangle” frame-
    work for analyzing service work to software developers who interact with
    customers, this focus on the broader organization of the service economy
    allows us to examine service work in the absence of the customer.

    Research Method
    To examine these questions, I return to an ethnography of a software devel-
    opment team undertaken in 1997 in Ireland, as the high-tech boom was well
    under way (Ó Riain, 2000, 2004). To investigate work organization I under-
    took an ethnographic case study in early 1997 of USTech.2 The study lasted
    3 months and was carried out with the permission and assistance of company
    management and the full knowledge of company employees. USTech was
    well established in Ireland, having located there in the 1970s and becoming
    one of the early success stories of Irish industrial policy. For many years, it
    was one of Ireland’s primary computer hardware production operations, with
    a reputation for high quality. The hardware manufacturing operations of
    USTech Ireland were dismantled with massive layoffs in the late 1980s and
    early 1990s, leaving local management scrambling for the operation’s sur-
    vival and turning to a complete reliance on the local pool of software skills.

    The case study included 12 weeks ethnographic research on a software
    team, 20 interviews carried out with engineers and developers working in the
    company, 15 interviews with company managers and attendance at 15 team,
    department, and management meetings (plus team meetings of the team in
    which I worked). For the analysis of software work where customers were
    present, I rely primarily on interviews with managers and software develop-
    ers and team meetings of two parts of the company—software testing and
    support for a product called TPS and applications development and consult-
    ing around a technological system called ObjectWorld. These two parts of the
    company are of particular interest as they involved more direct relations with

    328 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    customers than the software development team—dealing with customer dif-
    ficulties with the product in the case of testing and support and carrying out
    new systems development in close contact with the customer (and often at
    the customer’s facility) in the case of applications development.

    My research on noninteractive software work was more detailed as I spent
    12 weeks working on a software development team as a technical writer
    compiling a manual and online help text. The five long-term members of the
    team were employed by USTech but were working on a contract designing a
    product for Womble Software, a spin-off from USTech headquarters in the
    Unite States (we were known as the “Womble team”). Womble were design-
    ing a system for the networked delivery of training videos and other content
    that was designed to allow users to manage the pace and content of their own
    training programs.

    In addition to the team leader, Seamus, the Womble team consisted of two
    permanent (Dan and Conor) and two long-term contract (Jim and Paul) staff.
    During this time, I participated fully in the work of the team and wrote a user
    guide for our product, which was installed on the system as online help for
    users of the system. I sat in the same cubicle as the rest of the team, attended
    team meetings, and interacted closely with them on a regular basis on deci-
    sions regarding the user guide.

    I became an accepted member of the team, although my researcher status
    was never forgotten. Working on the product itself and proving myself of
    some use was essential to this acceptance, which itself was helped by the
    flow of contract personnel and others through the team on shorter assign-
    ments than my own. Furthermore, I was the person on the team who dealt
    most directly with the “user” side of the product—carrying out rough testing
    by attempting to use prototypes of the system, writing help text for users,
    and occasionally making comments regarding design features to the team
    leader. As we waited for the design team in California to produce “screens”
    for us that would be the basis for the “front end” of the system (i.e., what
    users would see), I generated some rough drawings of the screens of the
    system we were designing, illustrating the logical flow of each screen. These
    became the rough template for the team’s development work. A critical
    moment in my acceptance in to the team came when I identified a logical
    flaw in the path that the user followed through the system, based on my
    rough sketches. Gingerly pointing this out to the team leader, I was relieved
    a few minutes later when he turned to me and said, “Good catch, Seán.” The
    moment was not lost on the developers in the cubicle—I had cleared the
    competence bar (set pretty low for visiting sociologists) and proved myself
    as a member of the team.

    Ó Riain 329

    Organizational Conditions of the Service Economy:
    The Blurring of Markets and Hierarchies

    Customers bring pressures with them because they transmit the demands of
    product market competition into the work process. However, these pressures
    from product markets may also be transmitted into the worlds of different
    workers in other ways. This section outlines a variety of mechanisms through
    which software developers’ work is shaped by product markets and their
    interaction with the more widely recognized influences of organizational
    hierarchies and labor markets on the organization of work. It identifies these
    general organizational conditions and then goes on to explore how these play
    out in contexts where customers are present and in those where they are not.

    The dominant organizational forms in the information technology indus-
    try have shifted from the hierarchical bureaucracies of IBM and Digital, with
    strong guarantees of long-term employment and corporate cultures (Kunda,
    1992), to the networked system of open innovation, where increasing num-
    bers of technologists work in smaller firms (Mowery, 2009) and have careers
    that stretch across a number of firms (Brown, Haltiwanger, & Lane, 2006).
    However, hierarchies have not disappeared. In effect, market relations have
    developed within and across hierarchical boundaries, blurring the lines
    between hierarchy and market. In this section, we explore how these pro-
    cesses work through the markets for capital and labor to transmit product
    market pressures more directly into the software work process.

    The Market for Capital
    Earlier we emphasized the importance of the incorporation of professionals
    within managerial hierarchies. However, the primary mechanism for trans-
    mitting the pressures of the market and the customer to software workers
    is the marketization of organizational structures themselves. One of the
    most significant organizational transformations of recent decades has been
    the blending of markets with hierarchies, placing units within the same
    organization in competition with each other and making them responsible
    for their own survival through contracts with internal and external
    customers.

    USTech had gone through a particularly significant transformation just
    prior to the time I spent there. Once a company on the model of IBM, the new
    USTech had moved firmly to the more marketized structure. The effect on
    USTech Ireland was substantial—as one manager put it:

    330 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    The goal up to now has been to support USTech as a corporation get-
    ting to customers. Now we are starting to think about what can we
    provide to third parties? It’s part of keeping us secure, not having all
    our eggs in the USTech basket.

    Or, as the financial director put it,

    In the old days, US HQ was 90% of USTech Ireland business.
    Nowadays, we have a range of customers. In the old days we could
    rely on Big Brother in the US. The budget these days has to be spoken
    for by 15 to 20 major sponsors.

    Other departments within the company itself (including within the Irish
    facility) were increasingly thought of as “internal customers.” The informa-
    tion systems manager for USTech Ireland spoke of the issues in dealing with
    other departments in the Irish division in the following terms: “At USTech
    Ireland the users are professionals and are harder to control. . . . We had one
    guy started today and half his role is planning customer [i.e., Departments at
    USTech Ireland] relations.”

    USTech has therefore gone from a hierarchy within markets to a firm that
    increasingly consisted of markets within a hierarchy, or certainly a hierarchy
    that has blended market forms with the existing hierarchical structure. In
    particular the subunits of the firm are increasingly treated as units competing
    in markets with very little central funding or services provided to them. In the
    process, “intermediary customers” between the producer and the ultimate
    user have become significant actors in the work process. The organizational
    buffers between workers and markets have been weakened—but largely
    through the growth of intermediary customers, rather than through the disap-
    pearance of organizational structures.

    So too have the financial and budgetary buffers. As the USTech Ireland
    Managing Director notes, “I don’t have a budget, it’s a customer style relation-
    ship within the company and with clients. This has a big impact in that we only
    provide services that we get paid for.” The Financial Director notes the difficul-
    ties that this raises for collective shared resources that are used across groups,
    projects, and different clients (e.g., basic research, HR, information systems).

    We have to be careful that the market will stand what the inter-group
    costs are. We work back from what the customer in the field will pay.
    If we grow by another hundred staff we’ll be able to spread fixed costs
    across a broader base, we need the critical mass.

    Ó Riain 331

    Management of these intermediary relationships is a delicate task. USTech
    Ireland has to manage relations with both its customers dotted across Europe
    and with the central USTech offices in Silicon Valley—where some other
    sections of USTech may in practice be competing for business from USTech
    Ireland’s customers. Elsewhere, a team worked closely with another group in
    Europe while at the same time seeking to use that support to develop to the
    point where it could compete with them. The lines between market and hier-
    archy are significantly blurred.

    Customers may have to be discarded or disciplined, but only at some risk
    to your own group—and even career:

    USTech Ireland relies on service organizations affiliated to other parts
    of USTech or its partners as their customers in Europe. If those service
    organizations are doing a bad job we need to let Silicon Valley execu-
    tives know. It’s a delicate job because we still need those organizations
    around Europe so we can get into those markets. . . . It’s very delicate
    with the service organizations because they could potentially be
    involved in my appraisal. (Gerry, Operations Manager)

    Similarly, obtaining support from within the organizational hierarchy of
    USTech itself can be critical to market success with customers: “We want a
    mandate for business process work with ObjectWorld—but it’s hard to get cus-
    tomers to tell the corporation that they want that for USTech Ireland unless the
    corporation is telling customers that’s what we can do” (Mike, Consulting
    Executive). Mike is caught between hierarchy and market—needing the hier-
    archy to tell customers that his unit can supply the services they need but need-
    ing the customers to pressure the corporate hierarchy on behalf of his unit.

    Therefore, a critical organizational mechanism in the transmission of mar-
    ket pressure to the world of the worker is the role of intermediary customers
    and “sponsors” that form a chain from the end-user customer to the worker.
    Where the firm at USTech had stood firmly between the customer and the
    worker 10 years before, these pressures were now transmitted to great effect
    by the formation of units at USTech that had the autonomy to sign contracts
    but the pressure to support themselves through external customers.

    Markets for Labor
    The particular character of the labor market in software also generates closer
    links between worker and product market than in many other industries. This

    332 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    is particularly so when the technological expertise required for the work is
    both part of the production process, part of the product itself, and indeed part
    of the process of servicing the product once it is in use. For example, at the
    time of my research, Java technologies were emerging as crucial to many
    software systems. But Java and similar technologies are not simply tools or
    techniques used in producing software but are also part of the product itself.

    Workers’ careers are tied to the dynamics of product markets in two key
    ways. First, software developers’ careers often involve mobility from pro-
    ducer to client organizations. This is because customers learn a great deal
    about workers’ skills in dealing directly with workers as clients, and the skills
    of software engineers are carried with them when they move (Stinchcombe
    & Heimer, 1988). This is particularly relevant for those workers who deal
    directly with clients. Second, software developers’ ability to command a high
    price in the labor market is tied to the demand for the technologies in which
    they are expert, creating a link to the product market for even those software
    workers who do not deal directly with customers.

    Mobility between buyer and seller organizations is highly relevant for the
    consultant software developers who work on site at customers’ locations. As
    the managing director says,

    Trying to get people back from the customer can be hard. The custom-
    ers want somebody Irish—for example, there are 8 USTech people at
    Hurtig Insurance in Springfield at the moment. Guys with first class
    honors degrees from Ireland. . . . They are better than anyone on the
    US side, the customers love them.

    Similarly, engineers working in testing develop both expertise in particu-
    lar products and ties with the development organizations that would facilitate
    mobility. The relations are delicate between customers and USTech: “TPS
    skills are a problem, there are a lot of them in USTech customer sites in Ire-
    land but we’re not supposed to hire from them” (Pauline, Support Manager).

    But there were issues with bringing consulting staff back from customers
    too—as customers sought to hire them away from USTech, particularly if the
    relationship with USTech was not a long-term one. “The customer picks con-
    sultants from CVs, that’s part of it. They like these people from the beginning
    [and so they choose them from among USTech consultants]” (Kevin, Con-
    sulting Engineer). Again, these tensions are only resolved through a combi-
    nation of markets and hierarchies—where market mechanisms are dominant
    the relations tend to become quite unstable:

    Ó Riain 333

    We had a contractor in. He had ObjectWorld skills—they are like
    spoiled children, so few people with the skills, this guy knows he can
    get a job elsewhere. He wasn’t very committed. He went on a customer
    site, it shouldn’t have happened. We don’t know what he was up to.
    (Jean, Consulting Engineer)

    In this respect, the creation of market forms within the firm might also
    dampen interfirm mobility. If a software developer knows that he or she is
    personally in strong demand, they may be able to capitalize on a strong market
    position without leaving the firm. Indeed, being part of a firm identified
    strongly with a “hot technology” such as ObjectWorld may be a valuable
    resource in bringing your skills to the diverse market for those skills. However,
    it was unclear if this process was at work in the ObjectWorld team at USTech.3

    The relation of skills to products was the second dimension that connected
    labor and product markets. If careers are built on particular skills, these skills
    in software are partly and importantly linked to particular technological tools
    and platforms and through this to product markets. The success of particular
    technologies in their product markets can have significant effects on devel-
    opers’ careers.

    Developers maintained their skills through external sources as much as
    through company training:

    I rely on a few places for information. The vendors of products—Cap
    Gemini and Siemens, also with other vendors. Training courses,
    documentation, that kind of thing. (Aisling, Support and Consulting
    Engineer)

    I get all my information from within the ObjectWorld family as they
    call it. It is small throughout Europe—it’s a list of names, I can email
    if I need to. There’s a bulletin board, I don’t really use it. There’s a
    Dutch guy who always knows the answer, they call. There’s a danger
    of becoming an ObjectWorld person, not learning more general skills.
    (Leslie, Consulting Engineer)

    But the labor market can also affect the development of the product mar-
    ket itself: “The big issue for ObjectWorld’s success is availability of peo-
    ple—customers may give up on it if there’s not enough people to support it
    or if they are too expensive” (Mike, Consulting Executive). Developers’ indi-
    vidual interest in scarcity of their skills is in tension with their interest in the
    expansion of the market for those skills—which is partly based on them not
    being excessively scarce or expensive.

    334 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    In the Womble team, after our deadline passed, workers sought to negoti-
    ate a place in forthcoming projects that would provide them with access to
    skills and knowledge in Java that would set them up well for careers within
    and outside the firm. This move to Java was critical for the product, although
    difficult, because as it was a new language, Java development skills were in
    short supply, and many products did not have Java “drivers” that would
    enable them to work with a system designed in Java. From the team mem-
    bers’ point of view this was a great opportunity—training in Java and experi-
    ence in developing a complex product in the language would be a huge
    resource for them in the labor market.

    On Ramesh’s, the manager of Womble and the chief architect of the Wom-
    ble Software system, second visit, he treated the whole team to a dinner and
    a night out on the town. Each one of us, as we sat over dinner and wound our
    way through the city streets, discussed our future roles with Ramesh—I
    myself talked over the possibility of doing some further technical writing on
    a contract basis once my fieldwork was over, Paul discussed his hopes to do
    some field consulting on the product, Jim and Paul their plans to work on a
    new technical area of the product, Conor his desire to do work with Java in a
    particular application of our system. Indeed, we also put in a good word with
    Ramesh for each other where the different roles seemed complementary. In
    competition over certain areas, the team members helped each other out in
    others. But in all cases, workers developed skills with a close eye on develop-
    ments in product markets with technological tools and platforms as the cru-
    cial linking mechanism between labor and product markets.

    Through both of these mechanisms therefore, software developers find
    themselves closely tied to product markets—even where customers do not
    loom large in their work lives, the demands of the product market still do.

    Software Development and the Service Triangle
    Software systems never fully match a customer’s needs, nor are they com-
    pletely reliable. Indeed, the “failures” of development of standard software
    systems are so common that testing, support, and customization are large ele-
    ments of the software industry. The needs of real customers never completely
    match the assumptions that development teams made in developing systems.
    At USTech, there were a number of teams engaged in product testing and/or
    support for TPS. These teams had a strong development role as they were
    supposed to respond to issues raised by the TPS development team (located
    in the United States). However, testing in practice was also driven by crises
    arising with the product in use—as one member of the testing team put it,

    Ó Riain 335

    “we are driven by the customer demands on us, not by what the technology
    developer releases to us” (Mark, Test Engineer).

    Customers introduced an element of unpredictability into testing and sup-
    port work because workers in these teams were exposed to the vagaries of the
    systems in use by customers. As Mark put it, “Something could come in
    tomorrow and it takes 2 weeks to test something, so it would be drop every-
    thing and work on that for 2 weeks. That would involve long hours for us
    all.” A crisis at a customer can have significant knock on effects on workers
    throughout the software engineering process. This was aggravated when
    workers were on call for support work, a system that was unpopular with
    workers, even as they accepted the need to provide such support.

    As one former consultant, now working in testing, put it:

    In my first job here I worked long hours. It was chaotic, we were react-
    ing to disasters, the customers were breathing down your neck. Tight
    deadlines. It’s bad when the customer is right there, you can end up
    working through the night. Something has to give. The quality of the
    software goes. It just made support horrendous afterwards. (Aoife,
    former consultant)

    The customer’s desire to “get the job done” can exceed even the developer’s,
    ultimately weakening the quality of the work done and externalizing the costs
    of this development process into lower status jobs within software such as
    testing, support, and debugging.

    Workers sought to manage their customers to generate a degree of predict-
    ability. Test engineers sought to control the pressures on them by coming up
    with better work processes. These include better monitoring and systematiza-
    tion of the testing and support process:

    There is bad version control on that product. Marketing gives custom-
    ers anything they ask for without thinking about it. We can never tell
    what versions customers have of things, it’s hard to deal with problems
    then. The last 6 months here it’s been “how the hell are we going to get
    this done in the time.” Have never had a chance to do any automation,
    no time in last 6 months. The marketing guy in the US doesn’t have a
    clue what’s involved. (Mark, Test Engineer)

    For these software developers and test engineers—at least in a booming
    labor market—routinization and automation provide a way for them to

    336 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    manage uncertainty in their environment, as much as for management to
    exert control.

    The attempts to control these pressures can also be more direct:

    There’s lots of energy, but that can get drained out of you. If you can,
    you need to make a valid case—try and set longer deadlines. Support
    needs an immediate response—you have to stay late on just one thing.
    It’s the nature of the business. But it is also the nature of people—you
    can say no, and you will eventually. (Aisling, Support and Consulting
    Engineer)

    Teams communicate with other teams in USTech that have relevant skills
    and information, even if they are not directly involved in the process—the
    test team may recreate a technical situation to assist the support team in solv-
    ing a problem, for example. Networks across teams and managers can also be
    used to attempt to control the flow of such demands:

    Our manager is aware of important issues, the hot issues from cus-
    tomer complaints and so on. The manager in TPS Test section keeps us
    informed of changes, medium-term decisions and important short-term
    decisions. (Aidan, Test Engineer)

    Another section of USTech provided consultants to work directly on cor-
    porate customers’ systems that used a specific set of technologies, labeled
    ObjectWorld. The ObjectWorld consultants were able to do some of their
    work from the USTech facility but also spent a great deal of time at the cus-
    tomers’ facilities. When consultants had to leave home to work on-site at the
    customers’, work hours increased enormously as the direct pressure from
    customers to get the task completed in the number of days allotted was
    intense—and often directly enforced by customers.

    One consultant engineer said that her work hours averaged 40 to 50 hours
    while at USTech but stretched to 50 to 70 hours when on site with a customer.
    On-site work brings a more intense exposure to the market in two ways.
    Working directly with customers places the kind of pressures of immediacy
    and monitoring on workers that we normally associate with the “service tri-
    angle”—not surprisingly, given that this work situation is the closest soft-
    ware engineers come to that kind of service relation. In addition, workers are
    also geographically isolated from their home and nonwork life. They often
    socialize with workers at the customer site, and the customer is generally
    aware that the visiting engineers have weaker claims than other workers

    Ó Riain 337

    regarding family or other nonwork obligations. Within the consulting teams,
    these pressures are explicitly recognized: “Everyone knows what it’s like to
    be out on the customer site so if someone calls with a problem from a site
    people drop everything” (Leslie, Consultant).

    Therefore, there is a group of software workers whose working lives are
    profoundly shaped by interactions with customers—in the “service triangle.”
    They are generally hired from the producing firm but are controlled largely
    by the client. They strategize much as other workers do to manage the
    demands of customers and seek to mediate client influence through a variety
    of alliances with fellow workers and even occasionally managers and clients.

    The Missing Customer
    What then of the software developers who work in isolation from customers?
    When workers are developing standardized software products, or to a set
    specification, they typically work in isolation from specific customer needs
    and demands. Software developers, given the difficulty of separating design
    and development, regularly make decisions with implications for users even
    when their work does not bring them into direct contact with customers.
    Nonetheless, most such software developers work as a team, in relative isola-
    tion from the end users of their products and systems and often even isolated
    from the primary customers (who are often corporate entities).

    There was a pervasive sense at USTech of pressure of time and external
    competition, perhaps not very surprising in a company where many manufac-
    turing workers and engineers had been laid off in the previous year and many
    new employees hired into the software development area. However, we
    worked in isolation from these pressures on an everyday basis. We had few
    dealings with customers—either corporate or end-user. As developers, we
    heard little from the external manager of Womble Software, located in the
    United States, although he spoke with the team leader every day and made a
    long-anticipated visit to USTech Ireland shortly before our deadline for
    delivering the system. Nonetheless, although the market was ever-present at
    USTech, the customer was conspicuous by his or her absence.

    This was not because the users of the product were irrelevant. Indeed,
    there were a variety of potential customers for the Womble team. First, there
    was the potential influence of a generalized sense of competition in the mar-
    ket for training software. But there were more concrete potential customers
    also. The second potential customer was, most obviously, the final end user
    of the product—the person who would some day sit at his or her computer
    and use the system to steer through a customized, self-paced training

    338 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    program. Third, there were the corporate managers of the organizations who
    would employ these staff—the Chief Information Officers and Human
    Resource Managers who might be involved in the purchasing decisions
    around Womble Software. Fourth, there was the sales and marketing division
    of USTech and Womble itself, which was to connect Womble to customers.
    And, finally, there was the Womble organization itself, both manager of the
    Womble team from a distance and contractor for its services. How did these
    potential customers affect the work of the Womble team?

    First, perhaps the abstract form of “the consumer” was powerful enough
    to generate the pressures of the service economy within the team (Gamble,
    2010; Korczynski, 2004)? There were certainly attempts at USTech to
    achieve this through the rhetorical mobilization and valuing of the customer
    (DuGay & Salaman, 1992). New recognition or reward schemes were intro-
    duced in the company, including small rewards for referring customers
    (Fuller & Smith, 1991). Existing quality enhancement schemes were rede-
    signed, adding in business results and not just quality in the production pro-
    cess itself. As the quality manager noted, “This is a new focus . . . more of a
    customer focus.” This manager noted that a major issue for his group were
    concerns about how to measure customer satisfaction in order to incorporate
    it into quality assessment.

    There was also significant awareness of competition from other firms and
    other countries among developers themselves—and not just among the manag-
    ers with the main responsibility for facing that competition. The managing
    director talked at length about being close to the customer and having to seek
    out a variety of customers, in contrast to when they operated as a production
    centre for the main corporate headquarters in the United States. For the develop-
    ers, occasional references to Indian software developers evidenced both respect
    for their skills and an awareness of competition with them (Ó Riain, 2000).

    Despite this rhetorical emphasis on customers and the market, there were
    clear limits to these strategies. Developers were skeptical of any initiatives
    that emphasized corporate culture or a commitment to the interests of the
    corporation—and quality enhancement and customer satisfaction fell well
    within those boundaries.

    Second, what of the final user of the system, who would actually interact
    with the technology? For those developing the system, the user was a distant
    concern. Ramesh had written a “white paper” that outlined the educational
    and learning philosophy underpinning the product and the relevance of the
    system to the user—but it remained unread and unnoticed. More signifi-
    cantly, the user rarely figured in discussions of the details of technical devel-
    opment. Whereas some of those technical decisions might have little

    Ó Riain 339

    relevance for end-users, others had implications for the logical flow through
    the system or the kinds of data that users could access and the points,
    sequences, and formats in which they could be accessed. As we discussed the
    flow of commands that would take users through the system, I asked “would
    that make sense to a user though?” Conor sardonically commented, “User?
    There’s a user?” But for the historical accident of my arrival as a researcher,
    no one in the team would have explicitly concerned themselves with the
    user’s interaction with the system. As Conor commented with a rueful shake
    of his head, “customers, God save us from customers.”

    Third, although the purchasing decisions of corporate information officers
    presumably loomed large for Ramesh, they were never remarked on in my 3
    months at Womble.

    Fourth, and similarly, the Womble team showed disdain for customer-
    related aspects of the corporation. Developers criticized the skills and contri-
    butions of sales and marketing workers, particularly when compared with
    technical workers. In contrast to their respectful tone with regard to Indian
    software developers, they commented disparagingly on the “American” sales
    and marketing focus. Their critical views were only confirmed when a visit-
    ing marketing executive braved the team cubicle to try to access his external
    e-mail account. His failure to get online to get his e-mail rapidly turned into
    a widely enjoyed story over the following days. Marketing was conspicuous
    by its absence from the cubicle and the work process.

    The irrelevance of the user and customer in the development process sug-
    gests that neither interaction nor rhetoric could bring the customer and mar-
    ket into the development process. This leaves us with a puzzle—if customer
    interaction, market rhetoric, and customer feedback had little effect on the
    work process, what organizational mechanisms did bring the market into
    software development?

    The Ever-Present Market
    Ironically, it was Ramesh, the manager of Womble, who played the most
    central role in bringing in the pressures of the product market. It was Ramesh
    who was keenly aware of the pressures of market competition on Womble
    and of the purchasing decisions of corporate information officers. He had
    written the paper that located the design of the system in relation to a philoso-
    phy of training and learning. It was Ramesh who worked closely with the
    sales and marketing divisions. These pressures were funneled through
    Ramesh into the team. Once again, it is not the triumph of the market that
    brings the service economy into software development—it is the blurring of

    340 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    market and hierarchy. But what were the mechanisms through which Ramesh
    channeled these market pressures into the team?

    In the classic definition of service work, the producer and consumer are
    present together, and the service is typically consumed in the same time and
    space in which it is produced (e.g., haircuts). There are three key elements to
    such a service relation that generate pressures on service workers. Service
    recipients’ needs and demands are presented as immediate and urgent, within
    the norms of service interaction as much as by any specific actions of the
    customer—workers know that customers will expect their immediate atten-
    tion or they are likely to take offence. Service recipients can also define the
    content of their needs and demands on the spot—perhaps, asking for more
    work to be done on their haircut, for a sandwich to be heated, and so on.
    Finally, the monitoring of workers is intensified by the presence of the cus-
    tomer and directs our attention to the control of the body and the emotions
    that has been so central to the study of service work.

    In software development, such immediate monitoring by customers is
    rarely present. Indeed, the ability to monitor software development is in gen-
    eral quite limited, with managers and colleagues struggling to assess worker
    effort and productivity on an ongoing basis.

    The fact that the team’s direct manager, Ramesh, was located some 5,000
    miles away allowed the team, including the team leader, to screen informa-
    tion from him in order to let the team balance the technical and time demands
    to their own satisfaction. Having encountered a particularly thorny problem,
    the team finally found a solution:

    Jim: So we’re going to do that then. Ramesh never needs to know
    about it. So we can have it set up the way we want it and he’ll have
    it the way he wants too.

    Paul: So we’re going to do it the sneaky bastard way
    Séamus: I like the sneaky bastard way!
    Paul: And Ramesh never needs to know
    Séamus: No, no. Well done gentlemen!
    Jim: Just don’t say anything about this on Monday when Ramesh is here!

    As Conor advised me when I had sent an e-mail to Ramesh about a prob-
    lem in the “help” screens:

    Be careful what you send to Ramesh. Cc it to Séamus or better yet send
    it to Séamus first, let him decide. That’s what I do. You have to look after
    your own behind first you know. I try to get involved as little as possible

    Ó Riain 341

    with Silicon Valley, I give it to Séamus. That way I have a buffer
    between me and the US.

    Therefore, Ramesh had a very limited ability to bring market pressures
    into the team through the kinds of direct client control that customers were
    able to exercise over the on-site ObjectWorld developers or the beleaguered
    TPS test engineers. However, both the time pressures and the content of what
    “the market” “demands” are very significant in software work, creating two
    channels through which product markets shape software development work.

    Market Time: Deadlines and Product Markets at Work
    The “demands of the market,” ever present as an abstract category, are made
    real through two organizational mechanisms, the first of which is the project
    deadline. As “time to market” and “first mover advantages” become more
    critical to competition in technology industries—and are believed by manag-
    ers to be more critical—these market pressures are made real through dead-
    lines for systems development. These deadlines are largely prospective and
    based on estimations and expectations rather than on direct competition with
    other firms’ internal development deadlines. The timeline for new products
    entering the market is fundamentally uncertain, adding to both the contin-
    gency of deadline setting and the pressure to make those deadlines as short as
    possible. As such, deadlines do not just “reflect” the market. It is up for nego-
    tiation what these market competition pressures mean and what specific
    dates they become attached to. Deadlines were set through negotiation, but
    the major source of pressure around the deadline came from Ramesh.

    The mechanism for controlling the software development team is the proj-
    ect deadline. As it is impossible for the final design specifications to provide
    solutions to every issue faced by the team and the actual work done by the
    team is difficult for management to supervise directly, the deadline becomes
    the focus of management and team efforts. “Do what needs to be done to get
    this specification working by the deadline” is the broad task of the team. The
    deadline is the mechanism by which management brings the time pressures
    of product markets into the heart of the team.

    In the weeks before 1 March, the release date for our product, life in the
    Womble cubicle becomes busier and busier. The team works longer hours
    and becomes more and more isolated from the life of the company around
    them. Internally, the team becomes more cohesive, communication becomes
    more urgent, technical arguments take on a new edge, and any delay or new
    instruction from outside the team is met with a barrage of criticism.

    342 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    The time allotted for particular development tasks is counted in weeks and
    then in days. Although not as long as the hours worked by some other soft-
    ware development firms in Ireland, the work hours do start to creep up toward
    60 a week. Séamus, the team leader, works constantly, often late into the
    evening and the night.

    Weeks earlier, Conor had told me:

    I’ve a feeling this is the calm before the storm. My attitude when its
    calm is get out of here at 4 or 5 cos when it gets busy. . . . You have to
    draw the line yourself as far as hours go, you have to say once in a
    while “sorry I have something on tonight, I can’t stay.” You have to
    keep your standard hours around 39/40. If you let your standard hours
    go up to 45 then they’ll still come to you and ask you to do a few extra
    hours that evening, they won’t think about that extra 6 hours you’re
    doing as part of your standard. It’s up to yourself to draw the line.

    As the deadline nears, however, Conor ends up staying late and coming in
    two weekends in a row. The pressures of the product market are not only
    transmitted to the team but take their toll, much as interaction with service
    recipients can take a different kind of bodily and emotional toll on other ser-
    vice workers.

    Most striking perhaps is that the deadline takes on a “taken for granted”
    quality. Although deadlines do slip in the software industry, firms seek to avoid
    this where possible—understandably, given how central the deadline is to the
    organization of work and managerial control. The Womble software develop-
    ers do not seek to change the deadline—in part this is because extending the
    deadline only extends the period of direct pressure from “the market.”

    Negotiating With the Abstract Customer:
    Technical Specifications and the Content of Work
    But the timelines and rhythms of “the market” are only part of the story. The
    content of what gets done by the deadline—what the market (customer)
    “wants”—is also up for grabs. As one developer recalled from a former
    workplace: “They said ‘come and go whenever you want, just deliver’ . . . but
    you should have seen what they asked us to deliver . . .”

    The content of the project work to be done by the deadline was contained
    in the product technical specification (PTS), a detailed document outlining
    the technical basis and logic of the system and supposedly defining the key
    aspects of the actual development process. However, in contrast to the

    Ó Riain 343

    expectations of formal models of software engineering, the specification
    document was necessarily vague in places and could not capture all the tech-
    nical dilemmas that arose during the development process.

    Beyond the general design and specific technical interfaces and require-
    ments of the system, the PTS rarely figured in the work of the development
    team. Although debates among members of the team were both regular and
    passionate, I never heard the PTS referred to in these arguments, let alone
    used in an attempt to trump someone else’s argument.

    Nonetheless, the PTS could serve strategic uses. Dan, sitting beside me,
    constantly justified his resistance to certain new tasks that arrived in before
    the deadline with the refrain “if it’s not in the specs, I’m not doing it.” On one
    occasion, Jim and Paul discussed a new requirement for the system that had
    come in from Ramesh in an e-mail that morning:

    Jim: Is it in the specs?
    Paul: No.
    Jim: Well screw it then, we don’t need to do it.

    However, they later came up with a solution to the problem, which they
    knew was not strictly compatible with the technical requirements of the PTS
    but would solve the problem satisfactorily. In this case, they were willing to
    drop their apparent dedication to following the specs in order to try to slip a
    different solution past Ramesh:

    Paul: I have a feeling we’re going to get f#*!ed on this. I think the
    thing to do is to keep our mouths shut, do this what I’m doing now,
    present it to them without saying anything and then if they come
    back saying “we’re not supporting that” then OK. Cos if I just say
    it to him, he’ll just say “Noooo . . . .”

    Jim: Yeah, he does that.

    It is noteworthy here that the PTS was ignored to produce a “better” solu-
    tion rather than simply to do less for the deadline. In general, team members
    were careful to protect themselves from undue interference from HQ in the
    United States and left the negotiation of deadlines and larger technical issues
    to Séamus, the team leader. Séamus’s discussions with Ramesh at 4 p.m.
    every afternoon were listened to carefully by the eavesdropping developers
    in the shared cubicle—when Séamus declared in frustration one day, “just
    because you say it can be done Ramesh doesn’t mean it can be done,” it rap-
    idly became a catchphrase within the team. Where the deadline remained

    344 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    fixed, the negotiation of tasks to be completed by the deadline was never
    fully resolved.

    Indeed, elements could slip under pressure. From time to time, a particular
    problem was put aside for the 10 March release, which was to contain the
    fixes for the initial bugs (errors) in the system, creating some dissatisfaction
    among the developers:

    We’re all tired, we’ve been at it for 2 months really. It’s a lot of pres-
    sure. Something every day. There’s no time to take a day and research
    something. We need a week to go over some of the bigger issues, have
    some meetings, go over things, you know. There’s some dodgy code in
    there too. (Conor)

    Furthermore, the teams were careful in their release of information to
    managers—often seeking to manage the flow of tasks being given to the team
    before the deadline. On one occasion, Ramesh sent an e-mail about a “work
    around” the team would have to do around a problem in the database they
    were using. Not realizing that Dan had been working on this issue for a while
    now, he set aside a day the week before the release for Dan to work on it.

    Jim: Dan will have that done today.
    Sean: So what about the day Ramesh is setting aside for it next week?
    Jim: Oh God, I’m not going to tell him we already have a solution.

    He’s already expecting it to slip a bit so if we get it in on time he’ll
    be really happy. I think we’re a little bit ahead of schedule but he
    thinks we’re a bit behind so that suits us.

    Even the largely absent and imagined user of the Womble software was
    not spared the ire of the Womble development team. As the team turned in on
    itself, team members emphasized how irrational and stupid those outside the
    team were. Technical issues were dominant, whereas questions of usability or
    how users might use the system in their specific organizational contexts were
    largely absent. In the brief discussions that did occur regarding how users
    might interpret certain sequences of commands or ways of navigating the
    system, developers typically emphasized how users were prone to misunder-
    stand technical systems rather than identifying problems in the design of the
    system itself. The isolation of the team and the valuing of its perspective on
    the development of the product reinforced this.

    Even in narrow business terms, this is less than ideal. As one experienced
    project manager noted,

    Ó Riain 345

    Men are much better behaved if there’s women around! For sure, in
    every case! It’s a better team if there’s women in it. Because they’re
    better behaved. They act more mature, it’s easier to deal with scenar-
    ios. Not twice as mature, it’s a marginal thing. . . . I’ve never been on
    a team with a vast majority of women. On a back-office team, all
    men—you get the more boisterous, dressing room atmosphere. And
    you can’t just turn it off when the customer appears. It’s a more cordial
    atmosphere with women there, you don’t need to turn it off.

    Even leaving aside the gender implications of this observation, the connec-
    tion between the isolation of the “back office team” and the inability to deal
    with (even corporate) customers is clear. The Womble team was certainly
    characterized by this boisterous atmosphere, to the extent that one senior
    manager expressed his disappointment at the team’s inability to present an
    appropriately professional image to a visiting marketing executive.

    Negotiating the timing and content of the work to be done in the software
    development team essentially involved negotiating with the market for that
    software. However, this happened at a distance from the market and in ways
    that were mediated through managers and the legitimated institutions of the
    deadline and the technical specification. These pressures interacted with
    techie culture and team processes to reinforce the exclusion of the concerns
    of the user from the development process, even as they reinforced the pres-
    sures of the market.

    Conclusion
    Customers and service triangles can be important sources of pressure for
    software workers. However, what we have seen is that the service economy
    can manifest itself in software work in various ways—through the flow of
    customer problems and requests, interactions with customers themselves,
    and deadlines and project specifications,. However, in each case, it is the
    combination of integration into product market dynamics with pressures
    from managers and others within the employing organization that generates
    the specific kinds of pressure that affect these different groups of software
    workers. Although studies of service work may appear to have focused pri-
    marily on the addition of “the customer” to the manager–worker relation, and
    thus directed our attention to customers themselves, the substance of these
    analyses in fact emphasizes the interactions among all parties within the
    triangle.

    346 Work and Occupations 37(3)

    The irony is that an organization of production that mobilizes the cus-
    tomer as the driving force of the production process ultimately, and largely
    unintentionally, marginalizes the customer as irrational and incompetent—an
    outsider in the service economy, with little input into the technologies they
    end up using. It is the combination of customers and managers that makes the
    triangle a source of pressure for workers and software developers prove to be
    no exception—whether they meet customers in their everyday work or not.

    Acknowledgments

    Many thanks to Dan Cornfield, Steve Lopez, Art Stinchcombe, and Chris Tilly for
    exceptionally helpful comments.

    Declaration of Conflicting Interests

    The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship
    and/or publication of this

    article.

    Funding

    The research upon which this article is based was funded by the Social Science
    Research Council and Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Notes

    1. There is a third dimension. As a consequence of its focus on the interactional pressures faced

    by relatively powerless workers, the sociology of service work has focused primarily on the

    critique of the demands of the service encounter and the costs in terms of emotion, control,

    and authenticity. New work in the area has shown that, under certain conditions, relations

    between workers and “customers” can be structured in more rewarding and empowering

    ways (Lopez, 2006). This is relevant in software also, where movements such as “open

    source” development have reconstructed relations among users and producers, blurring the

    boundaries between those categories. However, that issue lies beyond the scope of this

    article.

    2. All names of organizations and persons in the article are pseudonyms. The names of a

    number of products and technologies have been changed, except in cases where they were

    in very widespread use within the industry. Some details regarding the companies discussed

    in the article, USTech and Womble Software, have been changed slightly, although not in

    ways that affect the substance of the analysis.

    3. I am indebted to Art Stinchcombe for this point.

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    ORIGINAL ARTICLE

    BIt’s Tricky …^: Intimate Partner Violence Service Providers’ Perspectives
    of Assessments and Referrals by Child Welfare Workers

    Annelise Mennicke1 & Lisa Langenderfer-Magruder2 & Lindsey MacConnie1

    Published online: 17 August 2018
    # Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

    Abstract
    The present study explored the perceptions of workers who provide intimate partner violence (IPV) services regarding child
    welfare workers’ IPV assessment and referral processes. Data from four focus groups was interrogated to find common
    themes. A total of 27 individuals participated in the focus groups, working in the community, shelters, and prisons/jails.
    Participants primarily expressed concerns regarding child welfare workers’ practices. IPV providers perceived child welfare
    workers as incompetent in performing IPV assessments and making referrals. IPV workers also perceived that some child
    welfare workers engaged in dismissive, manipulative, or coercive behaviors when working with IPV victims. While the
    present findings are not generalizable, they speak to the tension frequently noted between victim services and child welfare.
    Child welfare agencies should consider ongoing, trauma-informed training for IPVassessment to help increase worker self-
    efficacy in performing these tasks. Local, interdisciplinary trainings including both IPVand child welfare providers may be
    particularly useful to promote better understanding of each provider’s role in cases with co-occurring IPV and child mal-
    treatment concerns, which may help to reduce tensions between the intersecting service systems.

    Keywords Intimate partner violence . Assessment . Referral . Screening . Child welfare

    Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a common experience, as
    one in four women and one in ten men in the United States
    have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by
    an intimate partner in their lifetime (Smith et al. 2015). IPV
    victims can experience myriad psychosocial problems, either
    related or unrelated to the IPV (e.g., health care, mental health,
    child welfare, or substance use). Given this, IPV victims are
    sometimes identified by adjacent system providers and re-
    ferred to IPV-serving agencies. The present qualitative study
    explored IPV service providers’ perceptions of the IPV

    assessment and referral processes. Participants primarily
    focused on their perceptions of child welfare professionals’
    role in assessment and referral and, as such, the present
    article is framed using this context.

    Literature Review

    Child welfare workers often interact with clients who have
    histories of IPV and need appropriate referrals. IPV is preva-
    lent in child welfare cases, with up to 70% co-occurrence
    (Cross et al. 2012; Fusco 2013). In addition to consequences
    for the adult IPV victims (Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention [CDC] 2017), researchers have established signif-
    icant relationships between witnessing IPV in childhood and
    both behavioral and emotional problems (Evans et al. 2008).
    Though tensions frequently arise between the IPV and child
    welfare service sectors over who should be the primary
    client—the child or the adult (Fleck-Henderson 2000; Fusco
    2013)—the prevalence of their co-occurrence necessitates
    coordinated efforts to address family violence holistically.
    For child welfare workers, this often includes assessing for
    IPV and making appropriate referrals to IPV resources.

    * Annelise Mennicke
    amennick@uncc.edu

    Lisa Langenderfer-Magruder
    Lmagruder@fsu.edu

    Lindsey MacConnie
    lmacconn@uncc.edu

    1 School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Charlotte,
    Charlotte, NC, USA

    2 College of Social Work, Florida State University,
    Tallahassee, FL, USA

    Journal of Family Violence (2019) 34:47–54
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-018-9991-2

    http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1007/s10896-018-9991-2&domain=pdf

    mailto:amennick@uncc.edu

    However, research findings indicate that child welfare
    caseworkers frequently underidentify active IPV in their risk
    assessments (Casanueva et al. 2014).

    Those working in IPV-specific services (hereinafter
    BIPV agencies^ or BIPV providers^) are trained in the
    complex process of assessment, which includes screening
    tools, open-ended questions, and the use of clinical exper-
    tise or judgment. Specifically, a combination of a struc-
    tured interview and unstructured follow-up questions re-
    sults in client Bstorytelling^ and effectively captures more
    of the client’s experience (Cattaneo and Chapman 2011).
    Often screening tools are used to assess violence, but they
    can only glean so much. Assessors must rely on other
    means to gather information. Due to the difficulty in em-
    pirically defining IPV, assessment involves a combination
    of experience and intuition (Waltermaurer 2005), placing
    much of the onus on the assessor and their skills in the
    field (Stover and Lent 2014). A significant skill necessary
    for assessment is the ability to build rapport, which can
    help workers earn a client’s trust. For example, Fincher et
    al. (2015) found that women utilizing Women, Infants,
    and Children (WIC) services were more likely to disclose
    IPV in a face-to-face interview in which the interviewer
    established rapport, remained non-judgmental, and
    expressed interest in the situation. While this method of
    assessment is ideal for IPV workers, staff from non-IPV
    agencies often do not have the time or support to conduct
    such thorough assessments.

    Given the prevalence of IPVacross settings, many non-IPV
    agencies have documented challenges in conducting assess-
    ments. For example, non-IPV providers are often inadequately
    trained on the best practices and intricacies of IPVassessment
    (Bennett et al. 2016). Further, they may question the value or
    appropriateness of screening for IPV given their lack of train-
    ing, workload priorities, and concerns about the outcome of
    screening (Minsky-Kelly et al. 2005). This is especially true
    for the child welfare system. For example, child welfare
    workers report a lack of preparedness and confidence in
    assessing for IPV, even though they are required to do so
    (Coulter and Mercado-Crespo 2015). In fact, results from
    two waves of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent
    Well-Being indicated that child welfare workers under-
    identified IPV in more than two-thirds of cases (Casanueva
    et al. 2014), likely due to lack of training in recognizing the
    spectrum of IPV-related behaviors (e.g., emotional abuse;
    Zannettino and McLaren 2014). Additionally, many child
    welfare workers reportedly dislike IPV cases (Fusco 2013);
    perceive a lack of personal safety when working with IPV
    perpetrators (Bourassa et al. 2008); and have contrasting
    viewpoints with IPV service providers (Coulter and
    Mercado-Crespo 2015).

    Since many non-IPV providers note a lack of comfort and
    training to address IPV, referral to specialized services is key.

    IPV providers receive the training necessary to ensure their
    comfort and knowledge of assessment protocol .
    Unfortunately, many individuals who seek services from
    non-IPV providers face barriers related to the referral process.
    Many agencies do not have an in-house IPV specialist or do
    not have a clear protocol for referral (Bennett et al. 2016). In a
    study of mothers involved with child protective services, 25%
    reported an incident of domestic violence in the past 12months
    and of those cases, only 32% reported receiving a referral to
    IPV-specific services (Casanueva et al. 2014). This is attribut-
    ed to both a lack of identification of IPV by child welfare
    workers as well as the lack of availability of IPV-specific
    services (Casanueva et al. 2014).

    Aim

    At the outset, this study aimed to explore the IPV assessment
    and referral process from the perspectives of both IPV and
    non-IPV providers, which is conveyed in the Methods section
    below. However, what achieved thematic saturation were the
    IPV providers’ thick descriptions of assessments and referrals
    conducted by child welfare professionals. Therefore the aim
    of this paper was to explore IPV service providers’ percep-
    tions of the IPV assessment and referral processes.

    Methods

    Design

    Researchers conducted five focus groups among service
    providers in [Southern state name blinded for review] and
    [Northeastern state blinded for review. Three groups were
    comprised of service providers who worked within different
    arms of a county social service organization, including one
    group for direct domestic violence-related services (victim
    support and batterer intervention), one group for homeless-
    ness and substance use services, and one group for services
    for workers who provided IPV services to child welfare-
    involved families. A fourth group was conducted with staff
    of the North Carolina correctional agency who provide bat-
    terer intervention services to incarcerated men. Lastly, a
    group was conducted among a domestic violence victim
    services organization in New York. The five focus groups
    varied in size: two groups had nine participants, and the
    others had six, seven, and three. Because the aim of this
    project focused on the perspective of IPV workers, re-
    sponses from the homelessness/substance use focus group
    were not analyzed. This resulted in a total of four focus
    groups being analyzed, including 27 participants.

    48 J Fam Viol (2019) 34:47–54

    Participants

    Participants were recruited through coordination with ad-
    ministrative staff at the agencies. The staff distributed
    flyers about the focus group, coordinated space and times,
    and managed a list of interested participants. By coordi-
    nating with agency supervisors, groups were scheduled at
    convenient times for employees. Participation was incen-
    tivized by offering a $10 gift card to a local retail estab-
    lishment to compensate for their time.

    See Table 1 for a detailed description of the demographic
    characteristics of the sample. A total of 27 service providers

    participated. The majority of participants were female (89%,
    n = 24), and the modal age category was between 30 and
    39 years old (37%, n = 10). Twelve service providers identi-
    fied as Black, two identified as multiracial, nine as White, and
    four identified in other racial categories. Providers had a wide
    range of experience in the field, from 2.5 years to over
    30 years. The majority of service providers classified their
    work as intervention (n = 23), while some selected both pre-
    vention (n = 8) and intervention. Some provided Bother^ ser-
    vices, such as case management or assessments. Service pro-
    viders could indicate multiple settings in which they did their
    work, including in the community (n = 17), shelters (n = 8),
    and jails or prisons (n = 3). Other service settings included
    administrative offices and schools.

    Procedures

    Each focus group lasted approximately 90 min. The facilitator
    discussed the study procedures and gathered informed con-
    sent. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed ver-
    batim. Any identifying information was anonymized during
    the transcription process to protect the identity of respondents
    and eliminate potential sources of bias from the coders. All
    procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board
    at the [University blinded for review] as well as the [state
    blinded for review] Department of Public Safety.

    The researcher followed a semi-structured interview guide
    with seven main questions. The facilitators prompted the dis-
    cussion with probing questions as needed. Interview questions
    focused on defining relevant terms (e.g., BCan you tell me how
    you define the following ideas: intimate partner violence; do-
    mestic violence; abuse; family violence; violence against wom-
    en; violence; control; coercion; conflict^); discussing problem-
    atic relationships that clients are experiencing (i.e., BWhat do
    they look like? What are both partners doing?^); identifying
    assessment procedures used for these relationships/clients (BDo
    you directly ask about violence? control? Do you use assess-
    ments? observations? written reports?^); and clustering types
    of IPV (BHow confident do you feel about this solution?^).
    Focus groups were all facilitated by the first author, with sup-
    port from graduate research assistants.

    Analysis

    Transcripts, field notes, and memos were uploaded into
    the qualitative software NVivo. Transcripts were coded
    using the hierarchical coding process based on Strauss
    and Corbin’s (1990) constant comparative method. First,
    each transcript was read and reread by coders to get a
    general sense of the data. Next, two coders assigned codes
    to transcripts until acceptable inter-coder reliability was
    reached (>90% congruence). Once codes were assigned,
    codebooks were used to identify manifest themes (those

    Table 1 Participant demographics (N= 27)

    % (n)

    Gender

    Female 88.8 (24)

    Male 11.1 (3)

    Race

    Black 44.4 (12)

    White 33.3 (9)

    Multiracial 7.4 (2)

    Other 14.8 (4)

    Age

    20–29 7.4 (2)

    30–39 37.0 (10)

    40–49 29.6 (8)

    50–59 11.1 (3)

    60–69 11.1 (3)

    Years in field

    Less than 5 25.9 (7)

    5–10 25.9 (7)

    11–20 25.9 (7)

    More than 20 22.2 (6)

    Client Population Served*

    Homelessness 37.0 (10)

    Domestic Violence 81.5 (22)

    Substance use/Abuse 18.5 (5)

    Other 11.1 (3)

    Services Provided*

    Prevention 29.6 (8)

    Intervention 85.2 (23)

    Other 25.9 (7)

    Service Setting*

    Jail/Prison 11.1 (3)

    Shelter 29.6 (8)

    Community 63.0 (17)

    Other 33.3 (9)

    *Percentages in category do not add up to 100 as participants could select
    multiple categories

    J Fam Viol (2019) 34:47–54 49

    explicitly stated by participants) and latent themes (dis-
    crete patterns of responding not explicitly stated by par-
    ticipants). All participants’ focus group data were coded,
    including both IPV and non-IPV providers. However, in-
    terpretation focused on IPV providers’ perceptions specif-
    ic to child welfare professionals, as this is what rose to
    saturation. As such, themes with associated exemplars and
    a random participant number are presented below.

    Results

    IPV service providers referred to assessment as Btricky^ even
    for those who are trained and specialize in the field. For ex-
    ample, one IPV specialist stated, BI’m not trying to side-step
    the issue of assessment, although actually I am a little bit,
    because it’s tricky^ (Participant 1). One participant expounded
    on this idea, stating,

    I think these blurry ones we tend to with our assessment
    process, tends to be significantly longer, there’s no ste-
    reotypical victim of domestic violence. We spend a lot
    more time really looking at what [is] going on with this
    person, like [another participant] was saying, where is
    this violence coming from? Figuring out whether it’s a
    survival mechanism, or if this person is just mean, it’s
    not really [a] power and control thing. So really just
    taking more time, umm to get to know where that cli-
    ent’s coming from, and then like [another participant]
    said, stopping it. (Participant 10).

    Despite this acknowledgement of the difficulty in conducting
    thorough IPV screenings, IPV workers did not trust assess-
    ments and referrals from child welfare workers. Reasons for
    this mistrust, which contribute to tensions between the fields,
    were rooted in two themes. First, IPV workers perceived that
    child welfare workers lacked competence when it came to
    assessing for IPV. Second, IPV workers described manipula-
    tive or otherwise coercive practices that child welfare workers
    engaged in when working with clients who experienced IPV
    in their relationships.

    Perceived Lack of Competence

    IPV service providers perceived that child welfare
    workers lacked competence regarding IPV generally and
    with assessment in particular. IPV providers reported that
    child welfare workers often did not adhere to best prac-
    tices because they did not have a comprehensive working
    knowledge of the dynamics of IPV. As it relates to
    assessing for IPV, one participant with professional expe-
    rience in both IPV and child welfare stated:

    Because I used to do, I used to be a [child welfare]
    investigator and, it’s not until I got here that I was like
    hmm I wasn’t doing that right. And I didn’t get the DV
    state training until I started this job. So I worked there
    for years and didn’t have any DV training. So I do think
    that’s very … it makes a difference. (Participant 8)

    As a result of this, IPV workers reported that child welfare
    workers sometimes missed identifying IPV in a client. For
    example, Participant 8 stated,

    And there’s the cases that don’t necessarily come in as
    domestic violence, that aren’t labeled as domestic vio-
    lence, and you know, we call team staffing with [child
    welfare] and we’ll be sitting in there and we’ll hear the
    case and I’m like, this is a domestic violence case but…
    it wasn’t [screened in].

    This led to feelings of frustration toward child welfare
    workers. For example, Participant 8 continued, BWhat ends
    up happening is, and I find myself, I have to stop myself, I’m
    not their supervisor. So I shouldn’t have to tell them, that’s
    something that should be coming from their supervisor.^

    Even for trained IPV service providers, assessments are
    complex, which participants acknowledged could contribute
    to child welfare workers sometimes getting it wrong. For IPV
    workers, screening tools help, but, ultimately, they rely on
    open-ended questions and clinical expertise to make determi-
    nations about clients’ needs. This comprehensive process re-
    quires time to sort through nuance, which child welfare
    workers do not have. For example, Participant 9 spoke to the
    challenge of receiving conflicting information on cases:

    While I have [child welfare] workers tell me all the time
    that domestic violence cases are their least favorite cases
    … I think it’s because it’s tricky, a lot of people will hear
    something, you’ll go to the house and they’ll tell you
    something different.

    Despite acknowledging the inherent difficulties of working
    IPV cases, other IPV workers made statements implying this
    was more than a lack of training, instead perceiving child
    welfare workers as incompetent when it came to assessing
    for IPV. Participant 10 spoke to her own history as a child
    welfare professional:

    I think a lot of times when [child welfare workers] be-
    come involved, you make people feel like they’re not
    human … I used to work at [a child welfare agency], I
    had a caseload, I mean you have a job to do and your
    thought is, BI have X [number of] cases to deal with.
    You’re the 10th or 15th case. I’m just trying to get
    through the day.

    50 J Fam Viol (2019) 34:47–54

    Based on their own experiences conducting assessments, par-
    ticipants stressed that the process requires skill, which is de-
    veloped over time and is heavily influenced by both building
    rapport and relying on one’s own intuition.

    In addition to the need for more training, IPV workers
    acknowledge that part of the tension between the two fields
    stemmed from constraints within the agencies and differing
    priorities. Participant 12 summed it up by stating, BIt’s a very
    different role obviously being a [child welfare] worker and
    being a victim advocate and, um, it’s tough for [child welfare
    workers] too, their hands are tied a lot of the times …^
    Another described these differing priorities by way of describ-
    ing how they built rapport with clients, stating:

    In the engagement and the rapport building part, is help-
    ing the client understand the different roles. [Child wel-
    fare’s] goal is to protect that child, ok, but then as a part
    of protecting that child is making a referral to these
    supportive agencies to get that supportive education, to
    help the parent who’s responsible for supervision, and
    then for us, our client is the parent, not the child. We’re
    all kind of operating from a different perspective, with a
    singular goal for how we get there too. A lot of times for
    me in that engagement process is helping the client un-
    derstand the role, ok. A lot of people are here, ok. And I
    know I’ve had a lot of conversations with social workers
    in the past too, based on my recommendations too, and
    again, they’re advocating for the best interest of the
    child, I’m advocating for the best interest of the consum-
    er hoping that that’s going to help in their relationship
    with the child. We all come from it from different per-
    spectives as well. (Participant 15)

    Manipulative Practices

    Though participants perceived that child welfare workers
    lacked competence, they acknowledged that assessing for
    IPV is no easy task. Conversely, participants were less forgiv-
    ing of those child welfare workers who they perceived to
    engage in manipulative or otherwise coercive practices on
    IPV cases. Participants felt like some child welfare workers
    were dismissive of IPVand tried to manipulate screening tools
    to avoid initiating a referral and making the case more com-
    plicated. For example, many participants noted that child wel-
    fare workers would flippantly state, BNo power and control,^
    when staffing a case, because they knew this was how the IPV
    specialists screened in for IPV. One participant stated, BSome
    of us have noticed that since we’ve been in these positions,
    they realize that we’re asking about power and control, so
    they’ll start off, ‘I don’t see power and control’^ (Participant
    9). That same participant added:

    Well that’s part of our consult. We have to ask those
    questions, but they’ll come to these staffings, and wanna
    shut down the case so they’ll start it off with, BThere’s
    no power and control.^ Because, they’re wanting to …
    close the case.

    Linking back to perceived incompetence, Participant 10
    expounded on this, saying, BBut a lot of them don’t knowwith
    power and control … they don’t know what it is. When they
    say that, you should say, ‘What is power and control?’^

    Other participants highlighted how child welfare workers
    will try to coerce their clients to get a restraining order. For
    example, one participant stated:

    A lot of these ones that are being combative with, they
    came out and said, BThis is your third case we got for
    you on [domestic violence],^ and they’re implying that
    you keep doing it, so just from the get go, they set it up
    where the person is very defensive and they bring up
    staffing with legal all the time to try to get them to do
    something. (Participant 9)

    This idea about staffing with legal came up several times.
    After some clarification, participants explained how child wel-
    fare workers would use the threat of initiating a forced protec-
    tive order to manipulate clients to voluntarily get one.
    Participant 12 described this as an informal practice, stating,
    BYes, they say, ‘We can’t make you [get a restraining order],
    but we’re putting it on your [case] plan.’^ Participant 10 elab-
    orated about this coercive practice by stating:

    [Child welfare workers] threaten to do a petition or
    staff the case with the legal team to see if they have
    enough to do a petition, and most of the time, to just
    hear we’re going to staff with an attorney or staff
    with your legal team, [IPV victims/child welfare cli-
    ents will] go get the protective order. They may just
    get the seven day [temporary protective order] and
    then not go for the one-year hearing, but they at least
    will say, BWell, I did what you asked me to do. I
    didn’t go back for the one year.^ In their minds,
    they’re thinking, BYou told me to get a protective
    order. I got it. You didn’t say go and get the standard
    one year.^ So, it’s like a form of punishment because
    a lot of times people don’t want the protective order.
    If they don’t want it, they won’t enforce it properly.

    One participant did offer context to this practice, linking it
    back to a lack of comprehensive training, by stating:

    But [child welfare worker’s] hands are tied a lot of the
    time. Because they have to get something done on these
    safety assessments, they have to put—so, let’s get a

    J Fam Viol (2019) 34:47–54 51

    restraining order, let’s [do] this. It’s trying to figure out
    what kinds of [things to put on the safety plan]. How can
    you safety plan without maybe a restraining order …
    without, you know, kicking the perpetrator out of the
    home? What can you do instead to safety plan?
    Without that education, it does make it difficult for
    them. (Participant 15)

    Discussion

    The aim of this paper was to explore IPV service pro-
    viders’ perceptions of the IPV assessment and referral
    processes. Corroborating literature that interagency work
    on IPV cases can be challenging (e.g., Sudderth 2006),
    IPV providers in the current study spoke to issues of in-
    competence and coercive practices among child welfare
    workers. Participants frequently reported perceptions that
    child welfare workers lacked the training and knowledge
    to effectively conduct comprehensive assessments and re-
    ferrals, contributing to counterproductive or otherwise in-
    advisable practices (i.e., screening manipulation, victim
    blaming, coercing restraining orders). These perceptions
    may, in fact, be shared by both child welfare workers
    and victims themselves. Previous research indicates that
    many child welfare workers (Postmus and Merritt 2010)
    and their supervisors (Postmus and Ortega 2005) lack
    necessary IPV training, leaving workers feeling unpre-
    pared for the complexity of these cases (Fusco 2013).
    From the victim perspective, Hughes et al. (2011) found
    that few child welfare-involved women who had experi-
    enced IPV thought their child welfare caseworker listened
    or offered support to them.

    However, the substance of the case is not the only chal-
    lenge child welfare workers face when conducting their work.
    The volume of their caseloads is often high (American Public
    Human Services Associat ion 2005; Government
    Accountability Office [GAO] 2003), a consideration that
    some participants in the present sample were willing to take
    into consideration as a factor that might detract from compe-
    tency in any one substantive area (e.g., IPV). It is also impor-
    tant to consider that, when child welfare workers have a case
    with IPV, they are often required to interact with all involved
    parties (e.g., child, victim, perpetrator) to fulfill their role,
    which can add to the challenging nature of these cases. For
    example, Fusco’s (2013) study found that child welfare
    workers were often fearful of the perpetrator and frustrated
    when victims returned to their abusers. Though working pri-
    marily with IPV victims is not without its own challenges, it is
    likely easier to consistently engage in victim-centered practice
    than it is for service providers in other contexts. Child welfare
    workers who encounter IPV may have competing interests

    even within their own role, let alone when collaborating with
    others. Thus, while IPV-specific providers, with their wealth
    of victim-based advocacy knowledge, may experience frustra-
    tion with child welfare workers’ incompetence, it is plausible
    this Bincompetence^ is not due to lack of knowledge, but
    instead due to competing priorities on the case, perhaps dic-
    tated by agency policy, which are not aligned with IPV victim-
    centered practice.

    The aforementioned issues speak to the importance of pro-
    moting institutional empathy between IPV providers and child
    welfare professionals. Institutional empathy is Bthe under-
    standing of the context and environment that shape how an-
    other system operates and works with families who are
    experiencing child maltreatment and domestic violence^
    (Banks et al. 2008, p. 894). Understanding that child welfare
    workers must carry out their role in the context of a large
    bureaucracy with high turnover rates can help IPV providers
    better understand child welfare workers’ case priorities and
    decision-making around child safety (Banks et al. 2008).
    Similarly, child welfare workers who have knowledge of the
    women’s right’s movement and other influential factors in IPV
    service provision might have a greater appreciation for the
    victim-centered practice of advocates (Banks et al. 2008). In
    the context of IPV-related collaborations, having a better un-
    derstanding of one another’s roles can help set more realistic
    expectations and reduce blaming among professionals (Laing
    et al. 2012). In the present sample, several participants alluded
    to their own institutional empathy. For example, by acknowl-
    edging how Btricky^ assessments can be, even for IPV pro-
    viders, the participants demonstrate an understanding that
    child welfare workers do not, as part of their role, receive
    the intensive assessment training that IPV providers receive.

    Limitations

    The present study is not without limitations, namely, a
    lack of generalizability. Though our use of purposive sam-
    pling was appropriate for qualitative inquiry, the percep-
    tions of this sample cannot be assumed to hold true across
    all IPV providers or all communities. Moreover, self-
    selection and social desirability bias are potential limita-
    tions. Demographically, though our sample is primarily
    women, it is relatively diverse in other ways (e.g., race,
    age). Moreover, the overrepresentation of women is sim-
    ilar to the common makeup seen in community and social
    services professions, such as social workers, counselors,
    and probation officers (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018).

    Implications

    Despite these limitations, we offer several suggestions for
    practice, research, and policy. Given the prevalence of child
    welfare competency concerns among the present sample,

    52 J Fam Viol (2019) 34:47–54

    coupled with extant literature indicating IPV competency is-
    sues from both the perspectives of child welfare workers
    (Fusco 2013) and victims (Hughes et al. 2011), child welfare
    agency leaders could consider increasing IPV training for their
    workforce. IPV education should extend beyond preservice
    training and include opportunities for ongoing learning that
    builds on previously acquired IPV knowledge and skills.
    Continuing education on the intricacies of IPV dynamics
    might help to dismantle implicit or explicit victim-blaming
    attitudes among child welfare workers as training content in-
    creases in complexity over time. Building proficiency in
    trauma-informed IPV assessment might increase worker self-
    efficacy and result in both more accurate assessments and
    more timely and appropriate referrals. Given research findings
    indicating child welfare-involved IPV victims often rely on
    their caseworkers for support (Jenney et al. 2014), it is imper-
    ative that we understand how to boost child welfare workers’
    self-efficacy in assessing for IPV and making appropriate re-
    ferrals for services. Researchers should continue to explore the
    perspectives of both child welfare and IPV providers to deter-
    mine what specific training content would be beneficial both
    for themselves as well as collaborating providers.

    The onus for increased competency cannot rest solely on
    child welfare workers. IPV providers should be held to similar
    standards regarding both knowledge of IPVas well as of their
    sister agencies. In this vein, local, interdisciplinary trainings
    might be beneficial, as this would address both IPV compe-
    tency and, ideally, help streamline the referral process by of-
    fering an opportunity for local providers to interact with one
    another. Further, local trainings might also offer an avenue for
    increasing institutional empathy between professionals
    through open dialogue and rapport building. Notably, several
    of the present participants had previous child welfare experi-
    ence and their example quotes were ones that demonstrated an
    understanding of the challenging nature of conducting IPV
    assessments in child welfare. It is possible that their experi-
    ence in both service sectors has resulted in greater institutional
    empathy than providers who have only worked in one sector.
    These individuals could have particularly insightful sugges-
    tions for improving both training and institutional empathy
    and their practice wisdom should be solicited in future re-
    search on these topics.

    Since social service providers, and child welfare workers
    in particular, often endure a heavy workload (GAO 2003),
    agency leaders could help alleviate the stress of additional
    training by securing policies for protected time for their
    workers to participate in continuing education efforts.
    While we recognize that child welfare workers must be at
    least superficially familiar with numerous social problems
    to effectively do their jobs, because IPV is so prevalent on
    their caseloads (e.g., Fusco 2013), we believe this protected
    IPV training time to be justifiable within the confines of an
    already time-intensive work schedule.

    Funding This work was supported, in part, by funds provided by the
    University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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    • “It’s…
    • Abstract

      Literature Review

      Aim

      Methods

      Design

      Participants

      Procedures

      Analysis

      Results

      Perceived Lack of Competence

      Manipulative Practices

      Discussion

      Limitations

      Implications

      References

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