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Awarded Research Grant to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury

Building Social Support to Enhance Home Visitation

FOA Number: CE04-045 - Grants for Violence-Related Injury Prevention Research
Project Period: 8/1/04–7/31/07
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000446-01
Principal Investigator: Neil B. Guterman, PhD
Columbia School of Social Work
622 West 113th Street
New York, NY 10025
Phone: 212-854-5371
Fax: 212-854-2975


Physical child abuse and neglect remains a serious public health concern, with more than 5 million children suspected as victims in the United States each year. In addition to immediate medical consequences, physical child abuse and neglect predicts some of society's most intractable social problems, including an increased risk violence perpetration later in life. In this context, early home visitation services have emerged as one promising primary prevention strategy that aims to stop physical child abuse and neglect and its later consequences. Although prior research indicates the generally positive impact of such services, growing evidence indicates that social contextual factors and most especially qualities of parents' social networks, long identified as playing a key role in the etiology of physical child abuse and neglect, also play a substantial role in shaping the degree to which such services succeed in preventing maltreatment.

The present study will examine the efficacy of a social networking enhancement integrated within home visitation services. Initial pilot work has yielded a manualized intervention that has been showing highly promising preliminary trends on child maltreatment proxies, social network qualities, parenting stress, and related factors. The present study proposes a cross-over wait-list control group design. Two hundred families will be randomly assigned to either a home visitation plus social network enhancement condition or to a wait-list control group of families only receiving home visitation services for 4 months, later to receive the social networking enhancement component. Data on physical child abuse and neglect risk, social networks, parents’ sense of control, participation in home visitation, and associated other factors will be collected at baseline and at 3- and 9-month follow-up points. This study will be conducted in close collaboration with two of the major home visitation programs in New York City that served as pilot sites: Best Beginnings of Alianza Dominicana, and Healthy Families Staten Island of the New York Foundling Hospital.