Developmental Status and Early Intervention Service Needs of Maltreated Children. Finding #7: Families are receiving parent training and family counseling services through child welfare services or by referral. It is unclear the extent to which these services provide interventions focused on enhancing child development


Study Findings

Seven services were reported in NSCAW.  This included vision services, hearing services, therapeutic nursery, parenting training (including use of a case aide), family counseling, receipt of special educational services (e.g., IFSP), and receipt of developmental child care (e.g., Head Start or other).  Approximately 39% to 67% of the families of infants and toddlers with substantiated cases of maltreatment received parent training or family counseling through child welfare systems in the period of time prior to the 18-month follow-up (see Exhibit 15). Between 18 months and 36 months after baseline, the percentage of families reported to still be receiving parent training or family counseling decreased, ranging from 9% to 31%, suggesting that for some children and families the needs for these services was no longer critical or they may have completed a time-limited or structured intervention.  A small proportion of children had vision or hearing services, in the same time period, with slightly more infants (18% and 14%, respectively) receiving services than toddlers.  The percentage of children with vision and hearing services between 18 and 36 months after baseline also was slightly less ranging from 6% to 15% across ages at baseline.


Exhibit 15.
Percentage of Children and Families Receiving Child Welfare Services by Age at Baseline
Age at baseline Services Received Between Baseline and 18 Months
Parent Training
Family Counseling
Therapeutic Nursery
Head Start
0-12  months 64 39 18 14 <1 34
13-24 months 66 51 16 8 <1 50
25-36 months 67 54 10 6 <1 45
Age at baseline Services Received Between 18 Months and 36 Months
0-12 months 14 16 9 15 <1 39
13-24 months 30 31 13 11 3 56
25-36 months 9 20 6 6 0 36
Source:  NSCAW.
Head Start or other developmentally-oriented care program (Special Education programs are not included).

One-third of infants 0 to 12 months of age at baseline (34%) were in a child care setting in the time period between baseline and the 18 months follow-up. Half of children 13 to 24 months of age (50%) and 45% of those 25 months and older at baseline were reported to be in Head Start or a similar child care setting, in the same time period. It would be expected that the proportion in child care would be smaller for the youngest children. In the period of time between 18 and 36 months after baseline the proportion of children in Head Start was similar, with the children 25 months of age and older at baseline decreasing from 45% to 36%, reflecting that the oldest children were school-aged and no longer age appropriate for Head Start. The percentage of children in therapeutic nursery of all ages, at all time points was small, ranging from 3% to less than 1%.

These seven services were combined to indicate whether the child or family received any services during their child welfare case duration. A statistical analysis was conducted to examine the association of gender, race, maltreatment type, child welfare setting, prior contact with child welfare, number of children in the home, and whether the child and family lived in an urban setting with the receipt of any of the services. This analysis indicated that living in a non-urban area was associated with not receiving services, whereas neglected children were more likely to receive services compared to children whose maltreatment was described as abuse. These analyses showed no other significant differences between children who did or did not receive any of the services.


Receipt of Child Welfare Services suggests that as children get older there may be less perceived need for parent training. The proportion of families reported to receive family counseling also declines in this time period. Receipt of services appears to be related temporally to the time of initial investigation. This reduction in services may be associated with the effectiveness of services in reducing risk factors, particularly those associated with conditions in the home directly associated with substantiation of maltreatment.  Alternatively, this reduction may indicate a declining ability of services to engage families. Analyses of child welfare parent training services provided under the auspices of Child Welfare Services suggest that only a fraction are evidence-based and that there are relatively few models that have been developed that are appropriate for younger children (Barth et al., 2005; Hurlburt et al., in press).

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