Safe and Understood: Intervening with families to promote healthy child outcomes and prevent abuse recurrence for young child victims of domestic violence exposure

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Project at a glance


To improve outcomes for young children at-risk due to exposure to domestic violence.  More specifically, this project is focusing on young children (0-4) whose exposure to domestic violence has been substantiated by child protective or recognized by other referral services.


  • To describe, compare and contrast current policy, standards, and practice frameworks and services for young child victims of exposure to domestic violence across Canada.
  • To strengthen the evidence base for Mothers in Mind and Caring Dads for promoting the social, emotional, and developmental health of children exposed to domestic violence.
  • To implement Mothers in Mind and Caring Dads for mothers and fathers in a different delivery system context and a primarily French-speaking community (Quebec) and in a more rural and bilingual community (New Brunswick).
  • To explore the potential applicability of Mothers in Mind and Caring Dads to Aboriginal child welfare communities. 
  • To promote a culture within child protection, public health, child mental health, and domestic violence services that better recognizes and responds to the needs of young child victims of domestic violence exposure.


  • Provision of intervention services
    The provision of intervention services to 300 child victims of domestic violence exposure, 168 mothers and 192 fathers across three provinces (Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick) and in two official languages.

  • Expansion of program development & implementation
    Expansion of program development and implementation in Quebec, New Brunswick and within Aboriginal services and promotion of culture of recognition and response to young child victims of domestic violence exposure within child protection, domestic violence, public health, and child mental health services.

  • Randomized intervention study
    A rigorous cluster randomized intervention study in one site (Toronto), process and outcome evaluations of Mothers in Mind and Caring Dads in partner sites in Quebec and New Brunswick, and a participatory action research evaluation with Native Child and Family Services.



Child Development Institute (CDI): is an accredited children’s mental health agency in Toronto, Ontario.
University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario.


University of Toronto, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Child Welfare Institute, Hospital for Sick Children


Spring/Summer 2017