Awarded Cooperative Agreement to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury
Over 2 million cases of child maltreatment are reported each year in the United States, and of these, child neglect remains the largest single category. A disproportionate number of cases of neglect occur with mothers who often have their own personal histories of abuse and delinquency. This behavioral pattern is frequently passed on from mother to child resulting in a vicious cycle in the transfer of delinquency and inappropriate parenting across generations. A number of home visitation programs have addressed this problem by providing parents with specific skills about how to interact with their children in more positive ways (Gershater-Molker, et al., 2003; Olds et al., 1997). These programs often struggle to demonstrate long-term effectiveness because of difficulties in maintaining high-risk parents’ participation and high levels of fidelity in program implementation. This proposed two-site project aims to test the effects of cellular phone technology enhancements on an existing parenting program (Planned Activities Training from Project Safecare). The proposed project employs a 3-group design with random assignment of parents to one of three groups (1) Planned Activities Training (PAT); (2) Cell Phone Enhanced PAT, or (3) a Control Group. A unique strength of the proposed study is that it will recruit one cohort of participants from an ongoing longitudinal descriptive study of child neglect in which parenting and environmental risk and protective factors have been tracked since children’s birth (n = 180). A second cohort of high-risk parents (n=180) will be recruited from Head Start programs in the same communities as the original cohort. Families in both cohorts will be enrolled when children are 4 years of age and will be assessed prior to intervention, immediately following intervention, and 6 months and 12 months later to examine intervention effects on child maltreatment, parenting, and children’s behavior. In addition, in each of the intervention groups, data will be collected on program fidelity and intervention dosage, retention, parent engagement and follow-through with procedures in the intervention; social validity; as well as cost-benefit analysis. We expect that knowledge generated through this study will aid in the improvement of parenting interventions focused on reducing child maltreatment and increasing cost-effectiveness.