A team of researchers from the Mark Chaffin Center for Health Development at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University has documented the process of combining two complementary, home-based child maltreatment prevention models to improve services for at-risk families.
“The intent is to provide a road map for other practitioners and researchers who may wish to conduct this kind of work,” the team stated in its report “Systemic Braiding of 2 Evidence-Based Parent Training Programs: Qualitative Results From the Pilot Phase,” published in Family and Community Health.
Early intervention services in which trained home visitors work directly with at-risk parents are effective at preventing child abuse and neglect. While the growing popularity of home-based services has resulted in a variety of available models, agencies that work with families in need of intervention often select just one. This practice can make it difficult to select the best model to meet a wide range of family needs, the researchers stated.
To test whether combining models would increase their relevance for families, the researchers developed a pilot program in which they wove together elements of SafeCare® and Parents as Teachers—models with similar goals yet slightly different approaches. SafeCare is a home-based behavioral parenting model housed at Georgia State University in the National SafeCare Training and Research Center. It serves families with children from birth to age 5 and focuses on providing parents with skills to ensure positive parent-child interactions, child health and home safety. Parents as Teachers, run by a nonprofit organization headquartered in Missouri, is also a home-based model that focuses on teaching parenting skills, and it serves families for at least two years, from pregnancy through kindergarten.
The idea for the pilot project rose from collaboration between a Parents as Teachers leader in Georgia and the developer of SafeCare, with an aim to “more comprehensively meet the needs of families routinely served by PAT (Parents as Teachers).”
The researchers documented the process of combining the two models in five phases, from presenting the idea to workers at various Parents as Teachers sites to trial implementation with families.
“Our research team has learned, through trial and error, strategies to accomplish the systematic braiding of 2 curricula,” the report stated. While more long-term analyses is needed to confirm the effectiveness of combining the two models, early qualitative feedback indicates that the pilot project better meets the needs of families at risk for child maltreatment, the team said.
The report’s authors are Dr. Kate Guastaferro, a former graduate research assistant at Georgia State’s School of Public Health; Ms. Katy Miller, Dr. Jenelle Shanley Chatham, Dr. Daniel Whitaker and Dr. John Lutzker with the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development, and Dr. Kate McGilly with Parents as Teachers National Center in St. Louis, MO.