The Empirical Development of an Early Child Maltreatment Prevention Program

Principal Investigator: Neil B. Guterman, PhD (CUSSW) 
Project Steering Committee: Robert Abramovitz, MD; Bruce Grellong, PhD; Jackie   Miller, MSW, CSW; Alan Siskind, PhD (JBFCS)

While programs are in place which detect and treat child abuse after it occurs, little is known about how to effectively address the problem proactively -- before it ever occurs.  While early child abuse prevention gives great hope, potentially alleviating the tremendous social and economic consequences of child abuse, the promise of early intervention has, as yet, not been rigorously tested. This study is evaluating a state-of-the-science program which targets high-risk families transitioning into parenthood for the first time.  The program addresses the underlying risk and protective factors typically found in abuse and neglect cases including: parents knowledge of child development and the demands of parenting; bonding, attachment, and communication between parent and child; parents' coping skills in caring for an infant or child, including caring for children with special needs; managing the burdens of child care; family isolation and resource deprivation; access to appropriate social and health services for family members; and, history of abuse and neglect in first-time parents.
The program incorporates those components found to be supported by researchers and practitioners in the field.  Accordingly, the program components include: differential screening and assessment, prior to or at birth; hi-intensity services; provision of home-based and community-based services; medium to long-term duration of services; integrating and complementing existing support services and programs; ethnically responsive and empowerment oriented; linked to a medical home for screening and referral of cases, and coordination of medical support services; and complimentary components of parent support and education, social support, assertive case management, and referral.
The program development and research uses a developmental research approach which incorporates a scientific approach to program problem analysis, design, development, evaluation, and diffusion and adoption.
The Principal Investigator is Dr. Neil B. Guterman.  The study is being funded through the Center's research development program with additional support by JBFCS.  The developmental work for the program began in September, 1993 and the research is planned for three years.

The study was described in the 1994 issue of Practice & Research.