ATLANTA — A 10-year study published in the journal Pediatrics has found that the SafeCare program, aimed at reducing child abuse and neglect, reduced child maltreatment by 26 percent among parents of children aged 5 and younger in a population of families in Oklahoma.
The study compared in-home services with and without the SafeCare program, which is led by the National SafeCare Training and Research Center (NSTRC), based at Georgia State University. The study found that SafeCare reduced child abuse and neglect recidivism (i.e., re-occurrence of maltreatment) in the study population.
The study, published by University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), is the largest and longest randomized trial within a child welfare system to date that shows such a positive impact on child maltreatment recidivism.
“As the longest-term evaluation to date of a home visiting program in a child welfare system, these findings demonstrate the impact of SafeCare when implemented broadly,” said SafeCare developer John R. Lutzker. “Due to the size and scope of the study – which measured neglect as well as abuse – it can be deduced that these results will also have a similar impact on child maltreatment prevention when implemented in other states.”
The study began in 2002, when a research team led by Mark Chaffin, professor of pediatrics at OUHSC, and one of the nation’s top maltreatment researchers, collaborated with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to design an implementation of SafeCare that could be rigorously evaluated.
The team randomized the six service regions in Oklahoma to incorporate SafeCare or to continue to implement their existing intensive home-based services program. The Oklahoma University team also trained more than 200 community-based providers to adopt SafeCare.
“These results demonstrate the need for SafeCare’s practices in preventing maltreatment, even within child welfare systems,” Lutzker added. “The families in this study averaged five prior encounters with child protective services, so we’re dealing with the most at-risk families. For SafeCare to reduce the recidivism rate among this population indicates that it is a powerful intervention for highly at-risk parents.”
The article, “A Statewide Trial of the SafeCare Home-based Services Model With Parents in Child Protective Services,” was published online Feb. 20 in Pediatrics, doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-1840. The study is available online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org.
Established in 1979, SafeCare is an evidence-based, behavioral parent-training program for families at-risk or reported for physical abuse or child neglect. Trained SafeCare professionals provide in-home, module-based skills training targeting child health, home safety, and parent-child interaction to parents of children ages 0-5 years. SafeCare training is available through the National SafeCare Training and Research Center at Georgia State University. SafeCare services are currently available in 15 states and several international locations. For more information, visit www.safecarecenter.org.
About the National SafeCare Training and Research Center
The National SafeCare® Training and Research Center (NSTRC) was established in 2007 with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The goal of NSTRC is the nationwide implementation of the SafeCare model. The NSTRC is engaged in research efforts to improve the training, implementation, and translation of the SafeCare model. Additionally, NSTRC is cultivating collaboration with communities, child welfare administrators, and policy makers to increase support and resources for evidence-based practice and the prevention of child abuse and neglect on a local, national, and international scale. For more information, visit http://publichealth.gsu.edu/968.html.
Feb 27, 2012