Consulting on Domestic Violence Cases

Domestic Violence impacts the lives of many families. Join Pete Cudney from VT-CWTP as he chats with Family Service Worker Jess Peloquin and Domestic Violence Specialist Samantha Zellinger about utilizing consultation effectively when working to support families impacted by domestic violence, how they have developed their partnership, and some of the most common themes they consult on together.

Host Info:

Pete Cudney, LICSW – Training and Coaching Specialist at VT- CWTP.
Pete Cudney is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the UVM Child Welfare Training Partnership.  Prior to this role, Pete spent 20 years working clinically to support children and families impacted by complex developmental trauma.

Guest Info:

Samantha Zellinger, DV Specialist at VT FSD.
Samantha has been a Domestic Violence Specialist with Vermont DCF Family Services for the last 9 years.  Samantha has worked with survivors and victims of domestic and sexual violence for over 30 years at crisis hotlines, shelters, a law office, and child welfare settings.

Jessica Peloquin, Family Service Worker
Jess Peloquin is a Vermont DCF Family Services Worker. Prior to this, Jess was a Lund Substance Abuse Case Manager and has worked for Easterseals as a Family Engagement Specialist.

Show Notes:

Additional resources related to domestic violence can be found at


Cassie Gillespie (00:02):

Hello, I’m Cassie Gillespie. And you’re listening to Welcome to the Field, a podcast for child welfare workers, caregivers, and community partners. Today, my colleague Pete Cudney will be your host, and he’ll be talking with Samantha Zellinger and Jessica Peloquin about using consultation in domestic violence cases. Before we jump in, let me introduce them. So you know who you’re listening to. Samantha Zellinger has been a domestic violence specialist with the Vermont DCF Family Services for the last nine years. Samantha has worked with survivors and victims of domestic and sexual violence for over 30 years at crisis hotlines, shelters, law offices, and child welfare settings. So she knows her stuff. We’re also going to hear from Jess Peloquin today just as a DCF Family Services worker. And prior to this, Jess worked as a LUND substance abuse case manager and Easter Seals as a family engagement specialist. Okay, here we go.

Pete Cudney (00:59):

Thanks Cassie, Jess, Samantha. It’s so great to have you on Welcome to the Field.

Samantha Zellinger (01:05):

Thank you.

Jessica Peloquin (01:05):

Thanks for having us.

Pete Cudney (01:06):

Absolutely. I’m excited. So today we’re going to talk about your partnership, your collaboration, and how you go about consulting together on cases that involve domestic violence. We won’t focus on domestic violence as a phenomenon itself. But if any listeners are interested in learning more about domestic violence, we’d point you to the Safe and Together Institute. They offer a wealth of online training resources and their own podcast, and listeners can find links to those resources in the show notes for this episode. Also one note before we dive in. I’m guessing it could be helpful for you to recall work you’ve done together in support of maybe specific families as we’re talking. And so we’ll just be careful to not use names or any other identifying information if we do that. So if you want to do that, perhaps you could just identify a case just by the first letter of the family’s last name would that work. Okay, great. Thanks. All right. So to get started when, when did you first meet each other and how long have you worked together?

Samantha Zellinger (02:17):

I started in 2012 as a domestic violence specialist. And then Jess started a couple of years later than that.

Jessica Peloquin (02:28):

Yep. I came in 2015 as a family engagement specialist with Easter seals.

Pete Cudney (02:34):

Okay. So you first met each other, you weren’t in the family service worker role then. Okay and so when, Jess, when did you begin as a family service worker with family services?

Jessica Peloquin (02:46):

The fall of 2019. Okay.

Pete Cudney (02:48):

Okay. And so when you started as a family service worker, what was your training like how much exposure had you had to understanding domestic violence? At that point.

Jessica Peloquin (03:03):

I would say I had a basic understanding, like the power dynamics and the wheel around how it encompassed more than just physical violence. But that’s really where it landed.

Pete Cudney (03:16):

Okay and that was probably to some degree training that was offered to you in our foundations training that all of the Vermont family service workers get in the beginning. And as you know, I’m involved in some of that training and my experience of that training is that there’s so much material that needs to be covered for the role of a family service worker that we have to cover such a breadth, but we can’t go into great, great depth in terms of any one particular area. Was that your experience of the conversations about domestic violence. Okay. So you had maybe a surface level understanding but not real deep yet. Okay. And as I know, as you both know, and, probably our listeners know as well, the job of a family service worker is very complicated.

Pete Cudney (04:05):

I mean, it’s folks who do that job have to be highly skilled professionals. You have to handle really complicated situations that involve risk and high consequence outcomes and you are supporting families that are struggling with so many different aspects that you really can’t be an expert yourself in all of those different areas. Right? Would you agree with that? And so, especially when you’re a new family service worker, I would imagine that can be daunting. And so for that purpose you know, Vermont’s family services division has consultants available who have expertise in specific areas. And, and so Samantha, that’s been your role, you said since 2012, or was that your role prior to 2012 as well elsewhere?

Samantha Zellinger (04:56):

I’ve worked in the domestic violence field, sexual violence field for about 30 years, but in this particular position since 2012. So yeah, you know, while I don’t carry a caseload like Jess does and I’m not responsible for a particular family, it’s my job to do that consultant piece and help them make sure that they’re getting that expert advice on how to handle that particular topic.

Pete Cudney (05:24):

Yeah. That makes sense. And I think it’s just so great that family services division has folks like you, I would imagine Jess that there are times where you might need to consult on substance abuse issues. Well, maybe less for you. That’s been a role that you’ve carried in the past as well. Right?

Jessica Peloquin (05:41):

It has, yes. I was the family treatment court case manager with Easterseals and, the LUND substance abuse case manager before coming into family services.

Pete Cudney (05:50):

Right. So you do bring some expertise in that area, but in general, a new family service workers, probably at times, going to need consult about domestic violence. At other times, if they don’t have your experience, they might need to consult about substance use. They might need to consult about trafficking in a case, right? So there’s all of these really particular situations that might come up where consultation is actually a really important skill. But my experience of consultation is that both for the person offering the consultation. So that would be you Samantha, and the person seeking the consultation. There’s actually a set of skills that you need to develop together in order for that to be most effective. Would you agree with that?

Samantha Zellinger (06:34):

I would. And I would also say that because Jess played that role in a previous position when she was the LUND worker she understood that. So she understood that what the role of the consult would be and was able to really embrace that then as an FSW and come to our consults in a different way that maybe a different new worker could come to it.

Pete Cudney (07:00):

That’s such a good point. Were you thinking, do you think you were thinking about that at the time when you started to use consultation that like what’s the best way to approach this conversation? What did your early consultation conversations with Samantha, you know, about domestic violence? What were you focused on? What did those look like?

Jessica Peloquin (07:20):

When we first started consulting, I relied a lot on Sam to give me clear, cut next steps and wording. Like I wanted concrete support because domestic violence is intimidating and, you know, I want it to be very mindful and careful about how I approach things. And I had a basic understanding and I went into consults looking for very direct support.

Pete Cudney (07:51):

That makes sense. And is that your recollection as well, Samantha early on.

Samantha Zellinger (07:55):

Yeah, I think that, you know, that the direction that they were looking for, that Jess was looking for in particular, but also a lot of new FSWs is, you know, what do I do next? How do I handle this? How do I make sure that I don’t make this worse for the families? Especially with Jess’s role as a CF worker where the children are at home. We want to make sure that we’re not putting anybody at additional risk by trying to address the concerns that we have. And so she was like, tell me what to do, what to say, what to write, that’s going to make it better. And then the more conversations we had, the more she needed that less step-by-step.

Pete Cudney (08:41):

Yeah. I started to understand the concepts yourself. I would imagine Jess. Yeah. Okay. And so if I remember correctly from our previous conversations and in full disclosure, I was a part of this as well. The whole St. Johnsbury district then chose to dive into some conversations together, some training related to domestic violence. And Jess, I think we said that was about 10 months after you started as a family service worker. Yep. Okay, before that happened, how quickly, when you were a family service worker, did you have to support families on your caseload where domestic violence was, was present? Was that pretty immediate in your work?

Jessica Peloquin (09:23):

Yeah, I would say within the first six months I had a fairly heavy DV caseload.

Pete Cudney (09:30):

Okay. And so that may be specific to the kind of case that a worker carries, but it’s probably fair to say that a new family service worker in just about any role is going to encounter families where there’s domestic violence present fairly early on in their work. Would you agree? Yeah.

Pete Cudney (09:47):

Would agree too Sam?

Samantha Zellinger (09:47):

I think a DV case caseload, will ebb and flow. You never know exactly what’s going to come across your desk and even if, you know, the supervisor is saying, well, I’m going to try to give you the easy cases. You never know what’s going to develop with a case. So you have to be prepared to handle whatever comes up within that case. It turned out with Jess, like as soon as she finished foundations and was getting a case load, I was like, that’s my family, that’s my family. That’s my family. And so I think at least 50% of her cases were having active domestic violence concerns that we needed to talk about.

Pete Cudney (10:31):

Okay. Okay. Yeah. So I’m putting myself in the shoes of a new family service worker. You take this important job on you go through a foundations training where you’re learning material, that’s, you know, five miles wide, but only an inch deep. And then you have a case load and very quickly you need to be able to handle these situations. And so early on you were using consultation in that way. And then about 10 months in to your work, St. Johnsbury district used the safe and together model, their overview training, and everyone watched it. It’s a really great resource that that’s hosted online. Everyone watched that. And then we all discussed it together. And how, Jess, how do you think that impacted your understanding of domestic violence and in particular, your partnership with Samantha when you would consult on cases?

Jessica Peloquin (11:25):

I think the training definitely deepened my understanding and it helped me, it literally put together the pieces of why Sam was asking some of the questions she was asking. And so it was like a light bulb moment where I was like, oh, it all makes sense. And so then I was able to kind of start eliciting that information without being prompted. Like it just became more natural. And I think once I had a better understanding, it just flowed.

Pete Cudney (11:57):

That makes sense, Samantha, what’s, what’s your recollection, both for Jess and maybe other, you know, other professionals in that district of they’re thinking about domestic violence. What is it about that particular training do you think that is helpful?

Samantha Zellinger (12:11):

It really gives people the basic understanding about the pattern of behaviors that we’re looking for so that we can assess the risk that we’re looking at in a particular family in Jess’s case. I mean, you’re looking at, she just finished foundations and then we went into pandemic mode and we all had to adjust, like, how are we going to do our jobs a little differently? And so Jess was really open to the idea of like, I want your help. I want to know how you can assist me in these cases. And I have all these cases. And so we had we had set up, we were probably doing consults regular constables, maybe once every other week and on an as needed basis. So, you know, while we had an appointment every other week to talk about things, she was also calling or emailing or texting me and saying I need this or that from you.

Samantha Zellinger (13:07):

And then later on in that year, we had this training with the whole district and she was able to then go, now, I understand why you’re your brain, how your brain functions with this and how you’re asking these questions and then able to take it back to the families and able to extract that information that she knew that she would need for me in order for us to have that conversation moving forward, what does this family need? Like, what information am I going to need? Cause she’s the one that’s in there. She’s meeting with the families, I’m not. And she was able to then bring that back to me and say, this is what I know. Now tell me what you know about DV so that I can go back to the family and help make things better.

Pete Cudney (13:49):

That makes so much sense. So that matches up Jess with what you said about being able to kind of see the larger whole, the whole pattern that’s going on. And it sounds like in the beginning, maybe you didn’t may not have even known what to be looking for, or even what questions to be asking. Samantha, maybe you were more of a, I don’t want to say, were you more passive in your use of consultation? Like kind of waiting for her to point the direction?

Jessica Peloquin (14:13):

Yeah, I think in the beginning I knew what I was observing in the home. I knew what the risks were. I didn’t know how to necessarily always approach them. I worried very much about wording. And so in the beginning I would rely heavily on Sam to ask and elicit information from me or tell me what I needed to get. Whereas now I am more aware on a deeper level of what I’m observing and I have a better understanding of how to approach those situations in the moment and elicit information. So that way, when I’m going back and talking with Sam, we’re having a conversation, not me asking 7,000 questions and then like taking down concrete notes and then going back and going at it again, like it’s, I don’t want to say casual, but it’s a very natural, it’s a more collaborative versus a dictation.

Pete Cudney (15:14):

Yeah. I mean, it sounds like, it sounds like it’s co-assessment almost at this point because you have this larger understanding you’re able to bring your understanding double check it, maybe with Samantha and then Samantha, maybe you take it to a greater level of depth or add some nuances. Is, am I getting that right?

Samantha Zellinger (15:33):

Yeah. I think that the important thing to understand is like, I have that DV expertise, but she has the family expertise, you know? So she, when, when work meeting I’m not the expert in the room, I’m the expert with domestic violence, she’s the expert in other things. And so we’re collaborating that information together and figure out how to make that help the family.

Pete Cudney (15:57):

Yeah. That makes sense. That local kind of expertise, knowledge about the family is right. That’s really, really something that only the worker who builds the relationship and spends the time with the family can, can bring that makes sense. You really need both parts of that equation in the conversation. Samantha kind of rolling back time to when you were newer with this and facing it on, you know, half of the families that you were supporting. And I would imagine that that may have carried some kind of psychic weight, right? You were talking about not wanting to say the wrong thing. And Samantha had talked about early on workers can be worried about not wanting to make things worse. And do you remember that was that stressful for you? Like what’s that experience like for a new worker?

Jessica Peloquin (16:43):

It’s very intimidating and it’s very stressful. Because like Sam said, a lot of my cases children are still in the home. And so I am trying to balance holding perpetrators accountable and working with victims to keep them safe and give them tools and ensure that when I’m walking out the door, I haven’t stirred the pot to put that victim or those children at risk when I leave. And so gaining an understanding and the tools to be able to do that successfully, has been a long road. And it’s definitely made a difference in, in the work that I’m able to do.

Pete Cudney (17:27):

Yeah, I mean, it sounds like for a new family service worker, there could be, if we weren’t talking about it in a different way there could be almost an implied expectation that that worker would, would carry with them that, all right, I’ve finished foundations, I’m carrying a caseload. I want to contribute everyone else in my office is carrying big loads and I want to do my best so that it seems like there could be an expectation that a worker would put on themselves that they should know this stuff.

Jessica Peloquin (17:58):

Absolutely. And I think even as seasoned workers, you feel like you’ve seen it before, or you’ve been doing it long enough, like you should just know. And the reality is we can’t know all of it. And every family dynamic is different. And I think the only way that we’re able to truly step back and assess that and make sure we’re looking at all angles and keeping everyone safe is to actively utilize those consultations.

Pete Cudney (18:23):

Yeah. That makes sense. I mean, I could picture a worker worrying that to ask for consultation is a sign of weakness or something like that. But in reality, it’s a sign of professional development that you have self-awareness that you shouldn’t know all of that. That’s not what you’re asked to be an expert in. And so therefore you should turn to someone else for, a partnership that makes sense.

Samantha Zellinger (18:47):

Absolutely. And keeping in mind that, you know, the DV specialists we consult with each other, we don’t assume that we know everything about things or when we’re remembering things. So like, if Jess comes to me with a complicated case, sometimes I’ll say to her, I’m not sure, but we have a unit meeting coming up. I’ll do a consult with the rest of the DV specialists and I’ll get back to you. So if the expert in the room is saying, I need to do a consult, then the FSW in the room should be feeling comfortable with that as well.

Pete Cudney (19:19):

Yeah. That makes sense. Just that kind of consultation ongoing as a really healthy way to check our thinking with other people and therefore not carry risk alone. Right. Yeah. That makes sense. So now that you’re at a more advanced level of partnership together, what are, what are some of the themes maybe that you find yourselves talking about? Obviously it must be unique to every family, but I would also imagine that there may be some themes that come up more frequently in your consultation. Is that true?

Samantha Zellinger (19:49):

I think some of the common themes are staff safety. Sometimes in domestic violence also puts our staff at risk. And so trying to assess whether or not, there needs to be a second staff, there are, you need to take law enforcement, you know, things like that. I think that another one is language, making sure that we’re not using, victim blaming language in our case plans, or when we’re reporting out to court and sort of talking about that, I often give her some pointers and questions to ask to get a deeper understanding of what’s really going on in the family. Sometimes we get at a surface level and then like, well, let’s go down this road or maybe that road will give us a better understanding on things. So I think those are some of the main things that I would have for now.

Jessica Peloquin (20:42):

Yeah. I think, I think one of the shifts that has also happened is with case plans, I used to like ask Sam to give me action steps around domestic violence to be mindful of wording. Right. And now I write them and then I review them with her and if we need to make some tweaks, we do. I think staff safety is definitely something that we touch on. And there are times where cases aren’t necessarily flagged for DB in the beginning that I’ll go in and notice, some behaviors or some things and bring them back to Sam and, and just kinda give a download of like, I know this isn’t on your radar and here’s what I’m observing. And sometimes it’s not even domestic violence between parents. There’s a power and control dynamic in one of my families between a parent and the youth. And, that actually got a little tricky at one point. And so just bringing that back and processing it, cause sometimes I just need a minute to process and to gain kind of a little more clarity around how to take a step back and change my thinking because I don’t go into it thinking of DV. Right. So I use that time sometimes for that.

Pete Cudney (22:00):

That’s great. And along the way, there must’ve been times, well, I’m assuming, that, that you disagreed with one another, or maybe initially had just had a different perspective on a path and you’re both nodding your heads. Yeah. What’s coming to mind. How did you work through that? I mean, yeah, just share a little about that.

Jessica Peloquin (22:18):

So we’ve had a couple of cases where we haven’t necessarily agreed. And I think I, what we have done is when we meet, we’ve kind of put both our sides out there, you know, Sam talks about her concerns and why, and I will talk about, well, you know, what, I’m observing in the home and why I support moving forward in a different manner. And then we do our best to kind of meet in the middle. So I’ll take some of the things that Sam has suggested and do my best to implement them. And then she’ll take what I’m saying and try to help figure out how to support me in making that happen safely.

Samantha Zellinger (23:00):

I think it’s important to understand that, you know, DV specialists don’t carry a caseload, so we don’t carry the liability. We don’t make the decisions on things. We’re there to point out some, some pitfalls, some possibilities, some figuring things out, and then we’re looking at it from two different standpoints. I’m looking at it from a domestic violence lens. She’s looking at it from a child protection lens. We don’t get offended when we go down a different road, you know, it’s fine. You know, like, all right, it doesn’t fit with what you need to do. A judge has said something different, a treatment provider said something different. He can’t do what I want you to do. And that’s okay. It’s about the conversation that gets us moving forward.

Pete Cudney (23:48):

Yeah. That makes sense. That’s well said. Yeah, because of your different roles and responsibilities, the final outcome may be, impacted to some degree by things like, you know, legal thresholds or court actions. Yeah. That’s a really good point. Samantha,

Jessica Peloquin (24:03):

I think the most important piece with that though is like, just because we disagree, like Samsung, like she doesn’t get offended and I don’t just shut down because she’s not giving me what I want to hear. Like we take the time to put out on the table, all of the information that we have, all of our barriers and where we’re at. So that way we can navigate what the best course of action is that kind of meets hopefully both of our needs. I think it’s important to still fully listen to and share your side, to make sure that you’re getting the best outcome.

Pete Cudney (24:37):

Yeah, absolutely. You’ve talked about some of the patterns or themes that have come up in consultation. I’m curious about maybe a couple more. Are there times just where figuring out how to engage with a perpetrator who is using power control, domestic violence, are there times where that’s a tricky and you focus on?

Jessica Peloquin (25:00):

I think sometimes that is our main focus. I think in the beginning, that’s one of the things I needed a lot of support around because I’d never, I want, I always want to hold them accountable and I never want to rock the boat. I don’t want to create more risk. I don’t want to make them mad and then leave and have that household be in chaos. So finding a balance on, you know, not pushing their buttons and not ignoring the behavior was a tricky balance in the beginning.

Samantha Zellinger (25:35):

I think it always is. You know, and because I understand more about domestic violence and understand more about patterns I’m more comfortable with the idea of talking to perpetrators than the average FSW would, but it’s oftentimes, it’s, it’s not about giving them more competence. It’s about giving them more confidence in having those conversations. So it’s a little bit of practice with them and saying, you know, well, you can’t win an argument in this way, so let’s go down that road. And just giving them the tools to figure out how to have that conversation and pay attention to the cues that they’re giving. And not only in terms of being able to pull back and keep safety, but also what does that cue give me for information for the pattern that you can now bring back to me and we can talk about what does that mean for safety for the kids and for the mom?

Pete Cudney (26:37):

I think of this work as being potentially so impactful for everyone involved. For the families and also for the workers, you know, engaging in these situations and very frequently when you’re actually engaged with the family you’re alone and any partnerships that we can develop, where though we’re physically alone in that moment, our planning and our thinking has involved others. I mean, we, talk about the impact of secondary traumatic stress on the professionals who do this work. And, we talk about, the risks of professional dangerousness, right? Of carrying risk in isolation and not reaching out for partnership and, and Samantha, as you were talking, I was just, I was struck by how important the relationship is. You were saying it’s to build this confidence. And we talk in the field about how, the difference between stress becoming toxic for the professionals versus manageable and tolerable over a long period of time really is the presence of supportive professional relationships. And, it sounds like this particular relationship just that you’ve developed with Samantha is a really critical one just for your own well being.

Jessica Peloquin (27:49):

Absolutely. And we did a lot of work. I mean, in the beginning we had a conversation around like Sam was like, here’s the basic of what I need when you come into these. And I was like, here are all the things I need from you when I come into these things, right? Like we had a conversation about what consults needed to look like for us to both be able to get what we needed out of it, and that has since shifted, but like, we stay on top of those things. And those are things that we initiated

Samantha Zellinger (28:17):

And through this process, and I don’t even know if Jess knows this, but through the process and because of my role, I’ve also been doing the coaching trainings with The Partnership. So, you know, I’ve been getting that feedback of how to handling those. And so I’ve then been using those in my consultations. How do I use coaching as a way to do my consultation? So that’s helpful.

Pete Cudney (28:43):

Has it been helpful? Oh, that’s great. Yeah.

Samantha Zellinger (28:45):

We just finished those yesterday. So that’s been really helpful in transitioning. How do I get that stuff to Jess that I need to get to Jess? How do I use that in my consultations? Isn’t

Pete Cudney (28:58):

It such a great model for dialogue, but dialogue that can be reflective. Yeah, I appreciate that. I liked coaching too. Thanks Sam. Another pattern that I’m curious about the role and importance of engaging can extended family members is that a important piece of working to support families with domestic violence?

Jessica Peloquin (29:21):

It is because we know the more people that we pull in the more eyes on the more people that are, that know the patterns that know their risk the more we can build in safety.

Samantha Zellinger (29:32):

Yeah. And with the CF cases in particular, those kids are home. And so we want to make sure that the extended family, the neighbors, the fictive kin are aware of what the concerns are and that they are going to be providing the safety at nights on weekends. You know, when we’re not the person that they’re going to be calling, but also because eventually we’re going to be stepping out, you know, Jess’s, this role is not permanent and she’s going to be stepping out. And so who’s going to provide that safety, that accountability, that encouragement for a behavioral change so that everybody is safer in the home when DCF steps out.

Pete Cudney (30:15):

It sounds like it’s one of the most critical aspects that you have to really build or help a family to build. Right. Those, those support networks. Thank you. Samantha, in, in your consultation, in the St. Johnsbury district and a kind of broader level, are there, are there patterns, like, what does your consultation look like? Do you have things scheduled regularly is a drop in, could you just talk a little bit about how you do that?

Samantha Zellinger (30:39):

So the DCF specialists or DCF DV specialists are allowed to create their consultations in any way that makes sense between their own practice and that particular district. When we went into pandemic mode it was really trying to figure out how to make this all work from my house. And a lot of the FSWs were in their houses too. And how do we make this happen? So borrowing from some of my other DV specialists and trying to figure out how that all worked. We developed plan that I, for my ongoing and CF workers, I do monthly scheduled consultation. So once a month, hopefully, sometimes it’s every six weeks or so, but, I try to meet with each one of my FSWs to say, tell me what’s going on with your families. Tell me what’s new. Tell me what you’re struggling with, who’s your new cases.

Samantha Zellinger (31:42):

So then I’m staying up to date on who should be on my radar. And then we’re not only doing consultations in crisis mode. So there may be a crisis that comes up, you know, two weeks after a regular consultation. And you’re more than welcome to call me, text me, email me and say, we need to talk and that’s fine. But I basically know what’s going on with the family already. And, you, we don’t have to spend half an hour giving you an update on things and we’ve already been working on things. And then for my front-end workers, I have developed for my districts what I call drop in. And so once a week I have an hour set aside that is drop-in for them. And they can can jump on Teams I’ll be there and they can talk about any new case or pivot points in cases like if they are doing the SDM tools or their changing a safety plan, or they’re getting ready to close or going to court or something like that. And they just want to talk and say, Hey, we’re, we’re making this change. This is what’s going on. What, how does that impact what we’ve been seeing with here? So those are the things that I’ve developed in my districts. The other DV specialist may have a different things that they do in their districts.

Pete Cudney (33:02):

Oh, I appreciate that so much. It sounds like a recognition that this work is so busy that if we’re not careful, if we don’t design habits that force us to do something different, we can just become a reactive to whatever is the most critical crisis on our caseload. And that the patterns that you’re trying to set up, Samantha our regular to be proactive to keep everyone a little bit ahead so that we’re not waiting for those crisis situations to then react. I appreciate that so much. So I think we’re probably getting close to the end of our conversation. So, you know, I just, maybe I have some of those kind of magic wand kind of questions for, each of you. So my question for you, Jess, is what would you want to offer as advice to someone who’s just started as an FSW? And who’s very likely to have to support, you know, families involved with domestic violence. What would you be offering?

Jessica Peloquin (34:00):

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use your consultants. Like it’s not a sign of weakness and they’re there for a reason. Like I can not stress enough how important and how helpful it is just to ask.

Pete Cudney (34:16):

Dive into it, try it if you’re hesitant, try it and see. Okay, great. And, and similarly, Samantha for you what would you wish for, or offer as advice to new family service workers across the state related to their experiences, working with families where there’s domestic violence present,

Samantha Zellinger (34:38):

Similar to what Jess said, I would say that, you know, we’re there. So please use us. I would also just like to say that we spend a lot of time working within the community too, with our community partners, with the domestic violence programs or other programs. And so we can also be that liaison to those programs to say, you know, what do you have that can help this family get over this hump? I get a new behavioral pattern, what makes it better for them? And so we can be reaching out to those programs for you to say, you know, what might make it easier for you? Yeah,

Pete Cudney (35:16):

Very helpful. Great. Hey, I want to thank you both so much, not just for taking the time to do this, but for being willing to just, you know, be vulnerable and just talk about your work with us. So just thank you so much. And Samantha, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Cassie Gillespie (35:38):

Thank you for listening. Welcome to the Field is produced by the Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership and the state of Vermont. Our music is composed and performed by local band Brick Drop, and our sound production and engineering has been brought to you by Esmond Communications and Egan media productions for welcome to the field. I’m Cassie Gillespie, and we’ll see you next time.

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