Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Final Report - Volume Two. 9.1.5 Family and Child Functioning

09/01/2002

We interviewed caretakers at three points in time, shortly after the beginning of service (the "initial" interview), four to six weeks later (at the end of service for families receiving family preservation services, called the "post-treatment interview"), and again a year after services began (the "followup interview"). Caseworkers for both experimental and control group families were interviewed at the first two of these points in time. In these interviews, we examined a number of areas of family and child functioning that might have been affected by family preservation services. We looked at both levels of functioning at post treatment and followup and changes over time in levels of functioning. We examined responses to some of the individual items in the interviews, and we combined responses into various scales measuring dimensions of functioning. The following are the areas examined.

Caretaker interview:

  • Life events. An inventory of recent positive and negative life events was used to construct three scales: positive life events, negative life events, and depression.
  • Problems. Nine items, examined individually.
  • Economic functioning. Four items on difficulty in paying for rent, electricity and heat, food, and clothes were examined individually and combined in a scale.
  • Household condition. Ten items, examined individually and combined in a scale.
  • Child care practices. Fifteen items, examined individually and in three scales: positive child care practices, negative child care practices, and punishment.
  • Caretaker depression. Scores on the SCL-90 depression scale.
  • Child behavior. Thirty-five questions comprising scales for aggression, school problems, positive child behaviors, and negative child behaviors.
  • Overall assessment of improvement. A single question.

Caseworker interview:

  • Caretaker functioning. Nine five-point scale questions, examined individually and averaged.
  • Household condition. Thirteen questions combined in a scale.
  • Caretaker problems. Twenty-one questions combined in a scale.
  • Child problems. Twelve questions combined in a scale.

The results of the measures of functioning are summarized in Tables 9-2 and 9-3. In a few of these areas of functioning, in one or the other of the states, families in the experimental group appeared to be doing better post-treatment. There were very few differences at the year followup and in changes over time. Those differences that did appear (primarily at post-

Table 9-2
Summary of Family and Child Functioning Outcomes, Data from Caretaker Interviews Differences Between Experimental and Control Groups at Post treatment, Followup, and Change Over Time
Area Post treatment Followup Change over time
Life events
Positive life events KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: fewer experimentals experienced positive life events
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Negative life events KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Depression KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Family problems, individual items KY: Ø
NJ: fewer experimentals not enough money for food, rent, or clothing
TN: fewer experimentals had few or no friends
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
N/A
Economic functioning
Individual items KY: Ø
NJ: fewer experimentals difficulty paying rent and buying clothes
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: fewer experimentals difficulty paying rent
PA: more experimentals having difficulty buying food and clothes
N/A
Scale KY: Ø
NJ: experimental average lower (better)
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Ø denotes that differences between groups were not significant at p <= .05; N/A denotes not applicable
Table 9-2,
continued Summary of Family and Child Functioning Outcomes
Differences Between Experimental and Control Groups at Post-treatment, Followup, and Change Over Time

Area

Post treatment Followup (one year after beginning of treatment) Change over time

Household condition

Individual items KY: experimentals fewer broken windows or doors
NJ: Ø
TN: more experimentals in unsafe building because of illegal acts
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: more experimentals reporting not enough basic necessities
N/A
Scale KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: no significant differences
NJ: no significant differences
TN: no significant differences
PA: experimental group reporting more problems in household condition
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø

Child care practices

Individual items KY: fewer experimentals used punishment for not finishing food
NJ: experimentals less often got out of control when punishing child and more often encouraged child to read a book
TN: more experimentals went to amusement park, pool, or picnic
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
 
Positive scale KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Negative scale KY: Ø
NJ: experimentals lower (better)
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Punishment KY: Ø
NJ: experimentals lower (better)
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Ø denotes that differences between groups were not significant at p <= .05; N/A denotes not applicable
Table 9-2,
continued Summary of Family and Child Functioning Outcomes Differences Between Experimental and Control Groups at Post-treatment, Followup, and Change Over Time
Area Post treatment Followup (one year after beginning of treatment) Change over time
Caretaker depression KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø

Child behavior

Aggression KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
School problems KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Positive child behaviors KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Negative child behaviors KY: Ø
NJ: experimental group lower (better)
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Overall assessment of improvement KY: experimentals, greater improvement
NJ: experimentals, greater improvement
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
N/A
Ø denotes that differences between groups were not significant at p<= .05; N/A denotes not applicable
Table 9-3
Summary of Family and Child Functioning Outcomes, Data from Caseworker Interviews Differences Between Experimental and Control Groups at Post-treatment and Change Over Time
Area Post treatment Change over time
Caseworker report of caretaker functioning (9 items)
Individual items KY: Ø
NJ: control group higher (better) in ability in giving affection and providing learning opportunities
TN: experimental group higher (better) on five items
PA: Ø
KY: respecting child's opinions: experimental group declined, control group increased
NJ: control group had more positive change in respecting child's opinions
TN: experimental group more positive change on setting firm and consistent limits
PA: Ø
Scale KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: experimental group higher (better)
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Caseworker report of household condition Scale (13 items) KY: control group better
NJ: control group better
TN: Ø
PA: control group worse
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Caseworker report of caretaker problems Scale (21 items) KY: experimentals more problems
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: experimentals declined more
PA: Ø
Caseworker report of child problems Scale (12 items) KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
KY: Ø
NJ: Ø
TN: Ø
PA: Ø
Ø denotes that differences between groups were not significant at p <= .05.

treatment) were not consistent across states and were not maintained. At best, it can be said that family preservation services may have small, apparently short-term, effects on some areas of functioning. There was one item with some consistency, the overall assessment of improvement by caretakers. At post treatment, in Kentucky and New Jersey, a significantly larger proportion of experimental group caretakers generally thought there was "great improvement" in their lives. This difference was significant in both the primary and secondary analyses. In the Tennessee secondary analysis, results tended in the same direction, though not significantly (p = .09). At followup, differences between the groups in Kentucky and New Jersey had nearly disappeared. In Tennessee at followup, control group respondents more often thought there was "great improvement" (p = .055).

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