Bridges to Better text with curved shape on either side.
Medium-skinned woman with long brown hair holding a sleeping baby in a sling on her chest. She's smiling at a woman across the table with food. The other woman is medium-skinned and smiling while they chat. In the background is a medium-skinned boy wearing headphones and dancing with eyes closed.

I design policy

The current design of the child welfare system is not working for most families and causes additional harm to some with impunity. Policymakers and advocates can create accountability and boldly invest in family and community health and wellbeing. 


What if…

we shift funding away from systems and invest in communities?

  • Our research showed that many survivors of domestic violence who are involved in the child welfare system do not find workers or the system to be helpful in accessing support and resources, nor in holding their partner accountable for their violence and abuse. (Executive Summary, pg 4-5)

Bridges to Better calls on policymakers and advocates to shift funding away from systems and invest in survivor and community-led solutions.

cluster of red flowers in front of green leaf background

Strategies to Address the Urgent Need for Change

Reduce Child Welfare's Harmful Impacts on Survivors

Listen to survivors to understand how equating domestic violence with child maltreatment, findings of “failure to protect”, racial biases, and gendered parenting expectations impact how they are perceived by child welfare. 

Co-Design Policy with Survivors of Domestic Violence

Engage and support survivors and communities who are most harmed or marginalized by the current system – Black, Native American, Alaskan Native and Latina/o survivors – to re-design child welfare policy.

Invest in Protective Factors for Adult and Child Survivors

Embed protective factors in policy solutions – like establishing safer and more stable conditions (think housing, child care, and employment) that help adult and child survivors to stabilize and heal.  

Invest in Economic Support and Legal Representation

The current child welfare menu of responses to domestic violence (i.e., restraining orders, counseling, battering intervention, parenting classes) is not sufficient to meet families’ needs. Increasing access to economic support reduces child maltreatment, and providing quality pre-petition legal representation prevents foster care.

medium skin toned mom holding dark-skinned baby in sling

Policymakers and policy advocates have a critical role in changing the landscape to build survivor-centered and community-connected solutions.

What can you do?


Reallocate state and federal funding to support family well-being and violence prevention.


Use lessons and findings from the Rethinking Protection page to generate additional investment and research in improving policy to help survivors and families.


Build relationships with relevant task forces and commissions to support changes to state and federal policy to redress harm to survivors, establish accountability for people who use violence, and reduce burden on families.


Check out our Resource Library for tools, training and information. See even more policy resources at Promising Futures.