The REACH Plan: going further than ever before to prevent domestic abuse & support child victims

The REACH Plan: Going further than ever before to prevent domestic abuse & support child victims

Our Chief Executive, Jo Casebourne, unpacks our ambitious five-year plan to find out what works to protect child victims of domestic abuse, and to transform domestic abuse services.

The impact that domestic abuse has on children is one of the most pressing social issues and needs urgent attention. We estimate that this year, 827,000 children will be affected by domestic abuse – a number higher than the number of children we expect to start primary school in England and Wales. We know that domestic abuse has devastating effects on the lives of children, whether this is in relation to their physical health, mental health, or their ability to form positive relationships in the future, but we don’t know enough about how best to support these children. Nor is there a plan in place to resolve this.

This week, we launched REACH (Researching Effective Approaches for Children), a landmark five-year plan to find out what works to prevent domestic abuse and support child victims. This is a comprehensive, rigorous, sustained attempt to find out which types of support improve outcomes for children which in time could transform domestic abuse services. This plan has the potential to make England the first country in the world to have identified a set of proven approaches to support children affected by domestic abuse, and gives us the opportunity to create real change for child victims.

The REACH Plan was borne out of an understanding that finding out what works is the essential first step towards preventing domestic abuse and improving outcomes for child victims. We know that practitioners in local areas are working incredibly hard to support children, but short term funding for projects and a lack of investment in evaluation means that we don’t always have all the information we need to ensure children receive effective support and are given the best possible chance to live happy and healthy lives. The cost to children, society, and services is enormous – latest estimates put the social and economic cost of domestic abuse at £74bn. Our REACH Plan sets out the steps that we need to take to find support that works, laying down a clear path from the identification of promising interventions to rigorous, full-scale impact evaluation. This kind of evaluation will tell us which approaches work best to support children affected by domestic abuse, and pave the way for a nationwide plan for child victims, underpinned by high-quality evidence.

We know that this cannot wait, and so we’ve already begun work to find out more about effective support for child victims of domestic abuse. As a part of the REACH Plan, we’re funding the delivery and evaluation of six promising interventions* in prevention, family-based work, and therapeutic support, with the ultimate aim of evaluating the programmes for impact.

Bounce Back 4 Kids, run by trauma-support charity Parents And Children Together (PACT), is a therapeutically informed support programme which aims to support children who have experienced domestic abuse through group sessions for children and their non-perpetrating parent or carer.

“This generous funding from Foundations allows us to gather evidence of the lasting impact of our work and demonstrate the real difference it makes to families. We are thrilled that this funding enables us to expand our services and reach more children and survivors of abuse to give them the support they need.”

Kathryn Warner (Director of Community Services & Development at PACT)

WeMatter, a video-based programme delivered by Victim Support, is designed to support children who have been affected by domestic abuse through weekly online sessions, providing peer support and equipping children with the coping strategies they need.

For Baby’s Sake is a trauma-informed programme, starting in pregnancy, which takes a therapeutic, whole-family approach, aiming to break cycles of domestic abuse and give children the best start in life.

“Parents want support to break cycles of domestic abuse and create safer, brighter futures for their babies and children. We are excited that Foundations is focusing on building evidence on what works.”

Amanda McIntyre (Deputy CEO of the For Baby’s Sake Trust)

Restart is an early intervention programme delivered by the Drive Partnership, which brings together children’s social care, housing, and domestic abuse sector services to identify, change, and disrupt patterns of harmful behaviour at an early stage.

Breaking the Cycle, delivered by Action for Children, is a counselling services for children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse, aiming to support the emotional health and wellbeing of children who have experienced domestic abuse and who are displaying related signs of trauma.

Fathers for Change is a 1:1 programme delivered by the Fatherhood Institute, which works with fathers of young children who have a history of intimate partner violence and focuses on fatherhood as a motivator for change.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Foundations on this important evaluation of Fathers for Change. This one-to-one intervention positions fatherhood as a key motivator for change in abusive men. […] High quality, robustly evidence-based programmes are much needed in England, and we look forward to exploring whether and how it could work here.”

Kathy Jones (CEO of the Fatherhood Institute)

We will be working alongside partners to develop these services and interventions so that, in the long-term, they can undergo the kind of impact evaluation that we need to be confident that they are effective in supporting children. This groundwork is essential. If services are evaluated before they are ready, then evaluations can fail.

However, this is just the start of our journey. The REACH Plan is ambitious, and it requires cross-sector, cross-government commitment. We also want to build coalitions of funders, evaluators, and delivery partners who can help us make this plan a reality and give child victims the best possible chance to go on to live happy and healthy lives.

*Funding for the For Baby’s Sake, Bounce Back 4 Kids and WeMatter evaluations includes funding via the Evaluation Accelerator Fund run by the Evaluation Task Force, a joint Cabinet Office-HM Treasury unit providing specialist support to ensure evidence and evaluation sits at the heart of spending decisions.


Related News

Read our latest news and blogs


May 14, 2024

Building the evidence to support child victims of domestic abuse 


May 9, 2024

Calling local champions: help us build the evidence needed to tackle domestic abuse