New Study on Reducing Risk of Child Abuse

From Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal newsletter.

From Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal

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Source: Guterman, N. B., Tabone, J. K., Bryan, G. M., Taylor, C. A., Napoleon-Hanger, C., & Banman, A. (2013). Examining the effectiveness of home-based parent aide services to reduce risk for physical child abuse and neglect: Six-month findings from a randomized clinical trial. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37(8), 566–577.

Reviewed by: Anne Blumenthal

Although preventing child abuse and neglect is a major public health and social welfare priority, information regarding the effectiveness of preventive interventions has been mixed. Drawing from ecological and stress theories, parenting aide models aim to provide guidance, assistance, and stress management to parents who are at high-risk of maltreating their young children. Parenting aides deliver in-home services up to twice a week, targeting child safety, parenting skills, problem-solving skills, and social supports for parents. This study explored whether or not an in-home parenting aide program reduced self-reported child maltreatment and maltreatment risk factors over a six-month period through a randomized control trial.

The sample was composed of 138 mothers with children under the age of 12 deemed to be at high-risk of abuse and/or neglect and who were referred to parenting aide programs across the southeast US. The mothers were randomly assigned to either a treatment group (receiving both case management and parenting aide intervention, n = 73) or a control group (receiving only case management services, n = 65).  Of the mothers for whom data were collected prior to the intervention (N = 138), 101 (73.2%) completed the six-month follow-up interview.

Results showed that mothers who had received both case management and parenting aide interventions reported significant declines in their aggression and assault toward their children. Mothers in the control group did not report experiencing a decline in either aggression or assault. Importantly, mothers in the treatment group experienced declines in proximal maltreatment risk factors, such as parenting stress, depression, and anxiety, significantly greater in comparison to the control group. Overall, the study shows that parenting aide programs are moderately effective in reducing reported child maltreatment and maltreatment risk factors.

Methodological notes: 

Enrolment for the study was open for a two-year period, and recruitment took place in six locations across the US. Parents were referred to the parenting aide programs through a variety of mechanisms including: child protective services, self-referral, medical services, schools, or other. The study aimed to ensure fidelity in the research design by ensuring that all parenting aides attended a mandatory training, and did not “leak” the intervention to the control group. However, the authors identify that the control group may have received parenting aide type-interventions in addition to case management, and acknowledged that leakage may have occurred. Given the significant differences between Canadian child welfare systems, social support services, and social welfare systems, it is unclear if findings can be easily generalized to Canada.Study finds parent aide services reduce the report of physical abuse for at-risk families

Source: Guterman, N. B., Tabone, J. K., Bryan, G. M., Taylor, C. A., Napoleon-Hanger, C., & Banman, A. (2013). Examining the effectiveness of home-based parent aide services to reduce risk for physical child abuse and neglect: Six-month findings from a randomized clinical trial. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37(8), 566–577.

Reviewed by: Anne Blumenthal

Although preventing child abuse and neglect is a major public health and social welfare priority, information regarding the effectiveness of preventive interventions has been mixed. Drawing from ecological and stress theories, parenting aide models aim to provide guidance, assistance, and stress management to parents who are at high-risk of maltreating their young children. Parenting aides deliver in-home services up to twice a week, targeting child safety, parenting skills, problem-solving skills, and social supports for parents. This study explored whether or not an in-home parenting aide program reduced self-reported child maltreatment and maltreatment risk factors over a six-month period through a randomized control trial.

The sample was composed of 138 mothers with children under the age of 12 deemed to be at high-risk of abuse and/or neglect and who were referred to parenting aide programs across the southeast US. The mothers were randomly assigned to either a treatment group (receiving both case management and parenting aide intervention, n = 73) or a control group (receiving only case management services, n = 65).  Of the mothers for whom data were collected prior to the intervention (N = 138), 101 (73.2%) completed the six-month follow-up interview.

Results showed that mothers who had received both case management and parenting aide interventions reported significant declines in their aggression and assault toward their children. Mothers in the control group did not report experiencing a decline in either aggression or assault. Importantly, mothers in the treatment group experienced declines in proximal maltreatment risk factors, such as parenting stress, depression, and anxiety, significantly greater in comparison to the control group. Overall, the study shows that parenting aide programs are moderately effective in reducing reported child maltreatment and maltreatment risk factors.

Methodological notes: 

Enrolment for the study was open for a two-year period, and recruitment took place in six locations across the US. Parents were referred to the parenting aide programs through a variety of mechanisms including: child protective services, self-referral, medical services, schools, or other. The study aimed to ensure fidelity in the research design by ensuring that all parenting aides attended a mandatory training, and did not “leak” the intervention to the control group. However, the authors identify that the control group may have received parenting aide type-interventions in addition to case management, and acknowledged that leakage may have occurred. Given the significant differences between Canadian child welfare systems, social support services, and social welfare systems, it is unclear if findings can be easily generalized to Canada.