Katherine Ziomek

  • Hosted by Battered Women’s Justice Project
  • Sponsored by Medtronic, Robins Kaplan LLP
  • Service location Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Law school University of Minnesota Law School
  • Issue area Domestic Violence
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Katherine will improve outcomes for battered women and their children by developing tools and trainings for Child Protective Services (CPS) workers to better address cases involving domestic violence and by providing legal advocacy to battered women in custody disputes.

Adequately addressing the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child maltreatment is a national problem. Although many advocates for women and children recognize that protecting children necessitates protecting mothers, as the system currently functions, a battered mother—rather than being treated as a co-victim of a violent perpetrator—is often treated as a co-perpetrator by CPS, due to her failure to protect her child from abuse or witnessing abuse. As a result, fear of CPS involvement and removal of a child may discourage women from seeking assistance, and the removal of a child from his or her mothers’ custody may cause further emotional harm to the child’s wellbeing. Finally, racial bias in CPS collection has led to a persistent disparity in how child maltreatment cases are handled and who is placed in out-of-home care. Working with CPS and domestic violence advocates to develop the nuanced understanding of intimate partner violence and assessment tools needed to help both child and mother in domestic violence cases will improve outcomes for both women and children.

Fellowship Highlights

During the Fellowship period, Katherine:

  • Assisted over 50 individuals with issues related to domestic violence, child custody, and Child Protective Services
  • Secured pilot testing of the neutral tools in Child Protective Services in a Minnesota County
  • Collaborated with a coalition in West Virginia to expand the use of the neutral tools to Child Protective Services in West Virginia
  • Participated in the planning and outlining of an amicus brief for a high-profile case related to domestic violence and “failure to protect” laws

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Host: Women Empowered Against Violence

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Host: Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Mary Bissell

Mary Bissell

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Rachel White-Domain

Host: Illinois Prison Project

Sponsor: Albert & Anne Mansfield Foundation