Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Interim Report. 7.6 Contact Data

01/08/2001

Workers serving clients in both the experimental and control groups were asked to complete a one-page contact report following each in-person contact with a family member (see Appendix K). The report was a simple check-off form, asking about who was present in the visit and about the content of the conversation. Although these forms were quite simple and easy to fill out, it proved difficult to get workers to complete them. We implored workers who did not fill out these forms to do so, and we have at least one on a fair proportion of the cases. However, it is likely that for at least some cases on which we have forms that we do not have them for all of the contacts. We are unable to determine how many contacts occurred for which we have no forms. Furthermore, the quality of information may be affected by the fact that some of the forms were submitted after many calls from our office and after long delay. The following analyses were limited to those families with contact reports. Only "primary"; analyses are reported for contact reports.

Some data on contact forms are presented in Table 7-6. Forms were received on between 71 percent and 91 percent of the experimental groups and between 51 percent and 71 percent of the control groups. It should be noted that the lower rate for control group cases is partially due to the fact that there was no contact in the four weeks after the date of random assignment, the period of time for which we requested contact forms for the control group (a period comparable to the 4 week period of services for the experimental group. On average, more contact forms were submitted for the experimental group than for the control group. In addition to the overall number of reports submitted, in all three states the experimental group received significantly more home visits, visits with caretakers, visits with the other parent, and visits with children. The experimental group workers were more likely to involve other adults in the family, non-family members, and other workers. As experimental group families received significantly more contacts than the control group families, they also received significantly more individual activities. For both experimental and control families, in all three states the most common concrete service was the provision of transportation. Purchasing food, child care, and providing clothing, furnishings, and supplies were also common forms of concrete services.

Contact forms also captured general information about the topic of discussion, counseling, or instruction. In all three states, for both experimental and control families, the most common topics of discussion were the discipline of children, goals, and the caretaker’s interaction with the children. Other common topics were the child’s anger management and supervision of children.

Table 7-6.
Contact forms
  Kentucky New Jersey Tennessee
C E p C E p C E p
Number of cases with at least one form submitted 111
(63%)
124
(71%)
  119
(71%)
250
(91%)
  25
(51%)
73
(74%)
 
Average number of forms per case 3.1 13.8 .001 4.4 12.4 .001 2.5 9.5 .001
Average number of home visits 1.9 10.3 .001 3.6 10.8 .001 2.0 8.0 .001
Average number of visits with caretakers 2.4 12.8 .001 3.8 10.3 .001 2.2 8.2 .001
Average number of visits with the other parent 0.4 2.2 .001 0.6 1.9 .001 0.2 1.7 .01
Average number of visits with children 2.1 10.3 .001 3.6 9.4 .001 1.9 7.2 .001
Concrete Services                  
Transportation 0.5 3.5 .001 0.9 2.3 .001 0.2 1.9 .001
Buying food 0.1 1.0 .001 0.4 0.8 .003 0.0 0.5 .01
Child Care 0.3 0.4   0.2 1.0 .001 .04 .21 .03
Clothing, furnishings, and supplies 0.2 0.9 .001 0.2 0.6 .01 0.0 0.3 .01
Topics of Discussion                  
Discipline of children 1.5 7.1 .001 2.2 6.0 .001 1.4 4.7 .001
Goals 1.8 6.0 .001 2.1 6.6 .001 1.8 4.2 .001
Caretaker’s interaction with children 1.5 6.0 .001 2.2 5.7 .001 1.7 4.8 .001
Child’s anger management 1.1 3.9 .001 1.6 4.8 .001 0.8 1.5 .06
Supervision of children 1.1 4.0 .001 1.4 2.9 .001 1.6 2.9 .001

NOTE: C = Control Group, E = Experimental Group

The contact forms contained additional concrete services and topics of discussion (see Appendix H). Only those that were most often reported are shown here. Entries are average numbers of times per family that an item was reported, for those families with at least one form submitted.


Experimental group contacts. We examined further the contact forms for the experimental group to explore some issues in the adherence of programs to the Homebuilders model of service, subscribed to in all three states (see Table 7-7). In addition to other critical elements of family preservation, the Homebuilders model specifies that workers should provide an in-home contact within 72 hours of referral, and family preservation workers should be available 7 days per week. Substantial contact should take place within the first week; Kinney, Haapala, and Booth suggest that the typical case receive 11 hours of service in that time.12 Concrete services are also an important component of service, particularly early in the case.

In Kentucky, of the 124 experimental families with submitted contact forms, 55 (44%) received an in-home contact within 72 hours, 97 (78%) had contact in the first week. Those 97 families had an average of 5.1 hours of face-to-face contact in the first week. Regarding availability of worker, 18 (1%) of contacts occurred on either Saturday or Sunday. Finally, 34 (27%) of the experimental families received some type of concrete service within the first seven days.

In New Jersey, of the 250 experimental families with submitted contact forms, 73 percent received an in-home contact within 72 hours, 219 (88%) in the first week, and those families had an average of 6.5 hours of face-to-face contact in the first week. Regarding availability of the worker, only 196 (6%) of submitted contacts occurred on Saturday or Sunday. Finally, 38 percent of the experimental families received some type of concrete service within the first seven days.

In Tennessee, of the 73 experimental families with submitted contact forms, 42 (57%) received an in-home contact within 72 hours, 53 (73%) had contact in the first week. We are able to calculate hours of contact for 45 of these 53 cases and these cases had an average of 8.3 hours of face-to-face contact in the first week. Regarding availability of worker, 60 (9%) contacts occurred on either Saturday or Sunday. Finally, 21 (29%) of the experimental families received some type of concrete service within the first seven days.

These data seem to indicate that some "structural"; aspects of the Homebuilders model (contact within 72 hours of referral, amount of contact in the first week, services provided at all hours, including weekends, and concrete services early in the case) are not always upheld in these states. However, it is not possible to draw firm conclusions about this, because of issues in the quality of the contact form data discussed earlier.

Table 7-7.
Experimental group contacts
  Kentucky New Jersey Tennessee
N % N % N %
Number of families with contact data 124   250   73  
Total number of contact forms submitted 1713   308   690  
Contacts in week 1 280 16 753 24 169 25
Contacts in week 2 353 21 667 22 142 21
Contacts in week 3 322 19 601 19 133 19
Contacts in week 4 322 19 515 17 111 16
In-home contact within 72 hours 55 44 183 73 42 57
In-home contact with 7 days 97 78 219 88 53 73
Concrete service within 7 days 34 27 95 38 21 29

(12) Jill Kinney, David Haapala, and Charlotte Booth. (1991). Keeping families together: The Homebuilders model. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.