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The Waffle House shooter had an earlier weapons arrest near the White House. Also on our Monday rundown: new eviction data underscores America’s affordable-housing crisis; plus we will take you to a state where one county is putting juvenile justice under public health.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 17, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and one area where the awareness is growing has to do with the effects on children of witnessing domestic violence. Children exposed to such situations are often the forgotten victims, but an effort in the Buckeye State is trying to address that problem.

The Ohio Intimate Partner Violence Collaborative is working to create better outcomes for children and families exposed to domestic violence. Child welfare caseworker supervisor Melissa VanFossan, with Franklin County Children's Services, says intimate partner violence threatens the safety and health of children.

"Just children witnessing the physical part is traumatic enough, but when batterers start controlling the survivor, that can affect children in many ways; I mean, there could be times that children don't have their basic needs met."

VanFossan says that in the past, caseworkers would approach domestic violence incidents differently, and hold everyone in the home accountable, even sometimes the victim. She says this new approach uses community resources to back up the non-offending survivor and help the family move forward.

"It means using a lot of community resources to help relocate families, linking them with different counseling services for adults as well as the children, and linking the batterers with batterer intervention services."

Franklin County was one of the first four counties in Ohio to begin working with the courts, the Department of Job and Family Services and other agencies to create a safer environment for the child and the family. The new collaborative works in partnership with the survivor of the abuse, works to keep the child with the non-offending parent, and seeks to hold the perpetrator accountable. The collaborative is also training additional counties and community partners to expand the work at both state and local levels.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH