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Rethinking Protection: Raising the Bar on Legal & Economic Protections for Survivors & Children


Shellie Taggart
Futures Without Violence
Sharwline Nicholson
Mother, Survivor and Lead Plaintiff on Nicholson v. Scoppetta
Melody Webb, Esq
Executive Director, Mother's Outreach Network (D.C.)
Bridges to Better Resource


July 1, 2024


Mandatory Reporting
Racial and Gender Equity
Systems Change

Date: Monday, July 1st 2024 from 3:30-5:00 PM EST 
Closed Captioning

The legal structure that undergirds child welfare creates challenges to the safety and well-being of survivors of domestic violence and their children. Mandatory reporting creates a vast surveillance system of low-income children and families, who are disproportionately Black and Indigenous due to structural inequities and biases across intersecting systems. Substantiation of a survivor “failing to protect” children from harm caused by their abusive partner lands them on a central registry which can result in the loss of a job, prohibit involvement in children’s school activities, and impact future employment prospects. Lack of accountability and meaningful pathways to change for abusive partners leaves survivors with fewer resources and increased burdens. Foster care placements due to DV separate a child from the one adult who contributes most to their healing. These are not isolated occurrences, but daily realities for survivors of DV and their children. Raising the bar by strengthening legal protections for survivors who are at risk of or involved in child welfare systems is a critical strategy in any community seeking to rethink or redesign how we create safety.

Learning Objectives:
•Describe a continuum of needed legal protections and social supports for survivors of domestic violence and their children
•Ensure high quality, accessible legal advocacy for keeping families out of child welfare and children out of foster care
•Strengthen representation for survivors in foster care proceedings through utilization of the four-point rubric of Nicholson v Scoppetta

Facilitator: Shellie Taggart – Project Director, Children & Youth Program, Futures Without Violence
•Sharwline Nicholson – Mother, Survivor and Lead Plaintiff on Nicholson v. Scoppetta
•Melody Webb, Esq. – Executive Director, Mother’s Outreach Network (D.C.)


Accessibility information: This webinar is presented in English with closed captioning in English. If you require other accommodations to access this resource, please email us so that we can do our best to meet your need.

Disclaimer: Bridges to Better is a project of Futures Without Violence. The development of this webinar is supported by Grant Number 90EV0532 from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Points of view shared are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the official positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Part 1: Rethinking Protection: Collaborating to Create Survivor-Centered Systems
Part 2: Rethinking Protection: A New Angle on Accountability
Part 3: Rethinking Protection: Innovating to Advance Safety, Well-being, and Justice
Part 4: Rethinking Protection: Keeping Domestic Violence Survivors Out of Child Welfare