Children and young people experiencing domestic abuse within Scotland have for some years been identified as a priority group for service; their needs increasingly recognised and additional resources made available to meet identified gaps in services and levels of service. The Scottish Executive invested £6m (2006-8) through the Women's Aid Children's Serivces Fund to ensure more specialist workers are able to offer direct support to children and young people experiencing domestic abuse, and to provide outreach work to children in the wider community. This study was commissioned to provide an assessment of the sesrvices provided and the experiences and outcomes for young service users.
All 43 projects set up under the scheme had made significant progress towards meeting all, or almost all, of the key aims of the scheme. All projects achieved, or nearly achieved, the target of a minimum of three children’s support workers in each Women’s Aid group or local authority. All projects enhanced support to children in refuge, and to children leaving refuge and receiving follow-on support. All projects were in the process of developing an outreach service to children experiencing domestic abuse but whose mothers were still living at home. All projects enabled an increased number of children and young people to access a Women’s Aid service. The service children’s support workers were offering was valued by children, their mothers and other professional stakeholders. The services were available to a wider range of children. Children’s support workers were working in participative ways with children. Partnership working between Women’s Aid and other organisations was mainly positive. When issues arose, partners were working hard to understand each other’s perspectives and resolve them. Some challenges to future expansion of the service were highlighted, including the lack of a stable funding base for the future, lack of suitable premises for group-work and difficulties in delivering a full range of services.