Domestic Violence Witness Project
The Domestic Violence Witness Project was initiated at the Kids' FIRST Center in 1999 after domestic violence law was changed to make domestic violence in front of a child a felony. Prior to the change, domestic violence was a misdemeanor. In recognition of the impact domestic violence has not only on the actual victim, but on the children who witness it, the law today automatically makes domestic violence a felony if it is witnessed by a child. The Domestic Violence Witness Project began as a 60-day pilot project to interview child witnesses of domestic violence at the Kids' FIRST Center, to both gather evidence about the crime and help victims access community resources and Crime Victim Compensation funds to pay for counseling and medical expenses. The project was so successful it was made permanent in July, 1999.
Children who witness domestic violence are regularly interviewed at the Center Monday through Friday at 1:30. Interviews are conducted by trained police and Department of Human Services Child Welfare Program personnel. The program serves to gather evidence about what the child saw and allow an opportunity for a victim advocate to meet with the victim parent and develop a safety plan.
Domestic violence witness interviews have come to represent nearly 34% of all interviews conducted at the Center since the program’s inception in 1999.
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