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U.S. Department of Justice, Office Of Justice Programs, Innovation - Partnerships - Safer Neighborhoods
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Working for Youth Justice and Safety
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Safe Start

Overview

Funding

Evaluation

TTA

Contacts

Resources

FAQs

OverviewTop  
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides leadership and technical assistance in the development, implementation, and operation of new approaches, techniques, and methods related to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. In 1999, OJJDP created the Safe Start Initiative to prevent and reduce the impact of children's exposure to violence in both the home and the community, and to expand the knowledge base of evidence-based practices. Exposure to violence is defined as being a victim of abuse, neglect, or maltreatment, or as witnessing domestic violence or other forms of violent crime in the community.

The Safe Start Initiative has two specific goals: 1) To serve children exposed to violence and their families using the most evidence-informed services to date. This service delivery approach will ultimately create a comprehensive service delivery system encompassing prevention, early intervention, treatment, and acute response which improves the access, delivery, and quality of services for children at high risk of being exposed to violence and for those who have already been exposed. 2) To conduct high quality research to test the practices to improve the knowledge and evidence-base for services to children exposed to violence and their families.

Safe Start Communities

Safe Start was designed as a comprehensive national framework consisting of four phased practice components, two of which have either been implemented or are currently being implemented in various communities across the country. The Safe Start communities are funded competitively through OJJDP, and work to coordinate the efforts of service providers in key areas, such as early childhood education, health, child welfare, substance abuse prevention and intervention, domestic violence, law enforcement, and the courts to address the needs of children exposed to violence.

Safe Start Demonstration Sites
The initial phase provided funding for demonstration sites in 11 communities from 2000-2006: Baltimore, MD; Bridgeport, CT; Chatham County, NC; Chicago, IL; Pinellas County, FL; Pueblo of Zuni, NM; Rochester, NY; San Francisco, CA; Sitka Tribe of Alaska; Spokane, WA; and Washington County, ME. The communities were engaged in creating a continuum of care primarily based on then-current literature on the detrimental effects exposure to violence has on children, particularly young children. The sites were charged with developing a systemic response for preventing and reducing these effects on children and their families.

Safe Start Promising Approaches Pilot Sites
The second phase provided funding for Safe Start Promising Approaches in 15 communities from 2005-2010: Chelsea, MA; Dallas, TX; Dayton, OH; Erie, PA; Portland, OR; Oakland, CA; Miami, FL; Kalamazoo, MI; Toledo, OH; San Mateo, CA; San Diego, CA; Bronx, NY; Providence, RI; Pompano Beach, FL; and New York City, NY. These communities draw on the findings and experiences of the demonstration sites and other advances in evidence-based practices. The focus of the pilot phase is to test the effectiveness of specific intervention approaches for improving outcomes and reducing the harmful effects of children's exposure to violence. A description of the communities is included in Safe Start: Promising Approaches Communities: Working Together to Help Children Exposed to Violence.

Safe Start Promising Approaches (additional sites)
To continue the goal of expanding evidence-based practices, OJJDP has funded 10 additional Safe Start Promising Approaches sites (2010-present), including Aurora, CO, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, El Paso, TX, Honolulu, HI, Kalamazoo, MI, Philadelphia, PA, Queens, NY, Spokane, WA, and Worcester, MA. These communities draw on the findings and experiences of the previous Safe Start grantees to test the effectiveness of evidence-based intervention approaches for improving outcomes and reducing the harmful effects of children's exposure to violence.
EvaluationTop  
OJJDP has undertaken several research-based evaluations to assess the overall impact of its programs at the various phases of the initiative.

For the Demonstration Sites, the Association for the Study and Development of Communities conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the 11 Safe Start sites. The goal of this evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of communities in creating a comprehensive continuum of care for families experiencing violence. The evaluation found that expanding existing partnerships and implementing systems change activities, creating coordinated and comprehensive systems of care, institutionalizing system changes, and increasing community supports for children exposed to violence could help improve outcomes for these children. These system changes helped improve outcomes for children by increasing identification and access to services and awareness of the impact of children's exposure to violence. The evaluation also found that these communities were able to reduce trauma symptoms in children, parenting stress, and in some cases, even the amount violence children were experiencing. A summary of findings is available in the report: Communities Working Together to Help Children Exposed to Violence Findings From Phase I of the Safe Start Initiative.

For the Safe Start Promising Approaches sites, the RAND Corporation conducted an experimental/quasi-experimental evaluation of the Safe Start Promising Approaches communities. The goal of this evaluation is to develop an evidence base of promising practices and policies that yield the best outcomes for children exposed to violence and their families. The groundbreaking study design uses proven uniform measures across age, type of violence and setting. The evaluation for the first 15 sites is complete. RAND also launched and continues the evaluation of the next 10 sites for the Safe Start Promising Approaches. This study is currently underway.

Hyde, M.M., Kracke, K., Jaycox, L.H., & Schultz, D. (2008). The Safe Start Initiative: Advancing system and practice responses to children exposed to violence. Protecting Children, 22 (3/4): 80-95.

Schultz, D., Jaycox, L.H., Hickman, L.J., Chandra, A., Barnes-Proby, D., Acosta, J., Beckman, A., Francois, T & Honess-Morreale, L. (2010). National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches: Assessing Program Implementation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, TR-750.

Jaycox, L.H., Hickman, L.J., Schultz, D., Barnes-Proby, D., Setodji, C.M., Kofner, A., Harris, R., Acosta, J.D., & Francois, T. (2011). National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches: Assessing Program Outcomes. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, TR-991-DOJ.

Research

Safe Start, in partnership with the Center for Disease Control, is leading the collection of the first-ever comprehensive national numbers on the amount of violence children in this country experience. This National Survey of Children Exposed to Violence is being conducted by Dr. David Finkelhor, Dr. Heather Turner, and associates from the University of New Hampshire. The National Incidence and Prevalence Study on Children Exposed to Violence (NatSCEV), documents the incidence, prevalence and evaluation variations in rate, types of violence, characteristics, protective factors and levels of trauma. The following publications are related to the NatSCEV.

Finkelhor, D., Turner, H.A., Ormrod, R., Hamby, S.L., and Kracke, K. 2009. Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey. Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R.K., and Turner, H.A. 2009. Lifetime assessment of polyvictimization in a national sample of children and youth. Child Abuse & Neglect 33:403–411.

Finkelhor, D., Turner, H.A., Hamby, S.L. and Ormrod, R 2010 Polyvictimization: Children's Exposure to Multiple Types of Violence, Crime, and Abuse. Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R, Turrner, H.A.,and Hamby, S.L, 2012. Child and Youth Victimization Known to Police, School, and Medical Authorities. Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Hamby, S.L, Finkelhor, D., Turner, H.A., and d Ormrod, R 2011. Children's Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Other Family Violence. Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
ContactsTop  
ResourcesTop  
OJJDP Publication(s)
Child and Youth Victimization Known to Police, School, and Medical Authorities
April 2012. This survey provides an assessment on whether authorities, including police, school, and medical authorities, are identifying victimizations. 8 pages. NCJ 235394.
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Children's Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Other Family Violence
October 2011. This bulletin presents the findings from the 2008 National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence that specifically looked at family violence. 12 pages. NCJ 232272.
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Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey
October 2009. This bulletin presents background information on and the methodology, findings, and implications of the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), the most comprehensive nationwide survey of the incidence and prevalence of children’s exposure to violence to date. 12 pages. NCJ 227744.
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Children's Exposure to Violence and the Intersection Between Delinquency and Victimization
October 2013. Based on interview data from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), this bulletin identified groups of children (ages 10-17) who are either primarily victims or primarily offenders in terms of group size and how their characteristics and experiences differ. 12 pages. NCJ 240555.
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Polyvictimization: Children's Exposure to Multiple Types of Violence, Crime, and Abuse
October 2011. This bulletin from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention presents findings from the 2008 National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence regarding children’s exposure to multiple types of violence, crime, and abuse. 12 pages. NCJ 235504.
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Questions and Answers About the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence
October 2011. This fact sheet from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention contains questions and answers regarding the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence. 4 pages. NCJ 235163.
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Safe From the Start: Taking Action on Children Exposed to Violence
November 2000. This is an Action Plan created by the National Summit on Children Exposed to Violence to understand and address children’s exposure to violence. 76 pages. NCJ 182789.
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Other Resources
National Resource Center: Dissemination and Integration of Innovations
OJJDP and the Safe Start Initiative work with a wide range of national and local partners to raise awareness of the impact of exposure of violence on young children and their families and to disseminate information on innovations and promising practices in the field. National partners include the American Psychological Association, the California State Attorney General's Office, the Early Trauma Treatment Network, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the Institute of Violence, Abuse, and Trauma at Alliant University, the Institute for Community Peace, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and Zero to Three.

OJJDP's Safe Start Center develops resources and provides public access to a wide variety of information on children's exposure to violence within homes, schools, and communities. Among its publications, the Moving from Evidence to Practice Series includes resources for different systems, such as the following:

Cohen, E., McAlister Groves, B., and Kracke, K. (2009). Understanding Children's Exposure to Violence. Moving From Evidence to Action: The Safe Start Series on Children Exposed to Violence, Issue Brief #1. North Bethesda, MD: Safe Start Center, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Program, U.S. Department of Justice.

McAlister Groves, B., and Augustyn, M. (2009). Pediatric Care Settings. Moving From Evidence to Action: The Safe Start Series on Children Exposed to Violence, Issue Brief #2. North Bethesda, MD: Safe Start Center, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Program, U.S. Department of Justice.

Escudero, P. V., Garst, L. R., Langley, A. K., Nadeem, E., and Wong, M. (2010). Schools. Moving From Evidence to Action: The Safe Start Series on Children Exposed to Violence, Issue Brief #3. North Bethesda, MD: Safe Start Center, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Gewirtz, A. H. (2010). Homeless Shelters, Permanent/Supportive Housing, and Transitional Housing. Moving From Evidence to Action: The Safe Start Series on Children Exposed to Violence, Issue Brief #6. North Bethesda, MD: Safe Start Center, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.