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A support programme for mothers, who are victims of domestic abuse, to develop their relationship with their child and support their child’s recovery from domestic abuse

Evaluation type

Feasibility study
See project

Organisation name


Funding round

A supportive home





Activity Type

Parenting programmes




King’s College London

What does this project involve?

Domestic Abuse Recovering Together (DART) aims to support mothers, who are victims of domestic abuse, to develop their relationship with their child and support their child’s recovery from domestic abuse. Developed and delivered by NSPCC, DART offers a 10 week programme, where up to 6 families attend weekly group sessions, typically at an NSPCC Hub. Sessions use range of activities designed to strengthen the mother-child relationship, promote communication about the abuse and support one another through recovery.

Why did YEF fund this project?

In the year ending March 2023, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates that 2.1 million people aged 16 years and over (1.4 million women and 751,000 men) experienced domestic abuse. However, due to underreporting of this crime, the actual number is likely higher. We also know that domestic violence can have long term impacts on children, and can contribute to conduct problems, and long term mental health issues. This can make involvement in violence more likely for these young people. YEF is, therefore interested in the potential of domestic abuse recovery programmes to support children and reduce the risk of these negative outcomes. However, these programmes do not currently have a strong evidence base in a UK context.

YEF, therefore, funded a feasibility study of NSPCC DART. It aimed to ascertain how the programme is currently being delivered, explore the user experience, and detail the barriers to DART’s cohort reflecting the ethnic diversity of the communities it works in. It also asked whether an experimental impact evaluation of DART was practically possible and acceptable to stakeholders, and how large such an evaluation would need to be.

To explore these questions, the evaluator collected seven case studies (where they analysed project documentation, interviewed staff and referrers, and observed DART planning sessions). They also conducted interviews with NSPCC staff, reviewed other stakeholders who were delivering services in the domestic abuse sector, and analysed DART administrative delivery data. A total of 41 interviews were conducted; five with senior NSPCC staff; seven with referrers; and 29 with practitioners. In addition, three observations were carried out, each involving two practitioners. In total, 75 families accessed, or were due to access, DART between January 2021 and October 2023 as part of this feasibility study. 85% of these families self-identified as White; The remaining 15% were from racially minoritised communities, including Black Caribbean, Black British, and British Asian communities.

Key conclusions

DART is currently being delivered at NSPCC Hubs across the country, in addition to 25 external scale-up sites, by trained DART practitioners. Across these sites, there was considerable variation in delivery. Sites adapted the DART delivery manual to suit their needs, while staffing and financial constraints caused significant challenges to delivery. The intervention needs to establish clearer referral routes and guidance on eligibility criteria.
Eighty-four per cent of families that started the programme across the four NSPCC Hubs analysed in the feasibility study completed it (with families completing an average of 9.5 sessions out of 10). NSPCC practitioners and referral partners perceived that the programme provided significant benefits to families, including improving the mother–child relationship, communication, emotional management and self-esteem.
DART practitioners identified several barriers preventing the participation of families from racially minoritised communities, including cultural differences, low awareness of DART, the lack of ethnic diversity among practitioners and language barriers. Some sites have started engaging with local minority communities to address these barriers, such as organising community-specific events and providing information in various languages. However, more work is required.
To conduct an impact evaluation, significant challenges relating to sample size, the management of administrative data and outcome measures would need to be overcome.
Acceptability of an experimental or quasi-experimental methodology for evaluating DART varies among DART staff and referrers. Resource constraints and ethical concerns would need to be addressed before future evaluation

What will YEF do next?

YEF is exploring options for further evaluation and considering what steps would need to be taken to make future impact evaluation successful.

Download the report