U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Evaluating the Efficacy of the SAFeR Approach to Improving Legal Responses to IPV: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,221,556)

IPV is a pervasive issue in the American family court system as many abused mothers seek safety for themselves and their children in custody and visitation determinations. Despite mandates requiring courts to factor IPV into custody and visitation decisions, studies indicate they often fail to do so. In partnership with the Battered Women’s Justice Project (BWJP), the overarching objective of this proposal is to evaluate the effectiveness of the SAFeR program (Screening, Assessing, Focusing on the Effects, and Responding to Abuse) for promoting IPV-informed decision making among family law attorneys in custody and visitation cases. The proposed study uses a longitudinal, cluster RCT design and qualitative interviews that will compare IPV-related knowledge, assessment, and behaviors in practice among a sample of 1,440 attorneys across the U.S. Half of the attorneys will be randomly assigned to receive SAFeR training, while the other half serves as controls. Attorneys are geographically dispersed to ensure participant diversity and enable comparisons between attorneys who serve rural and urban settings. In addition to pre- and post-intervention surveys, follow-up surveys will be conducted three and six months after the intervention. Multi-level and structural equation modeling procedures will be conducted to examine differences between the intervention and control groups and whether and how differences between groups persist over time. In addition, in-depth qualitative interviews will be conducted with 96 randomly selected attorneys (half from the intervention group and half from the control group) before and one year after the intervention. Open coding and constant comparative analysis will be used to analyze the interviews. Findings will be disseminated to academic audiences, legal and CJ professionals, and policymakers in various formats (e.g., scientific presentations, peer-reviewed journal articles, newsletters or policy briefs, conferences with legal decision-makers). Data derived from NIJ funding will be deposited at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), hosted by the ICPSR repository. In addition, project documentation (e.g., final project report, data collection instruments) will be archived.

Date Created: October 21, 2021