Improving parenting in families referred for child maltreatment: a randomized controlled trial examining effects of Project Support

Ernest N Jouriles, Renee McDonald, David Rosenfield, William D Norwood, Laura Spiller, Nanette Stephens, Deborah Corbitt-Shindler, Miriam Ehrensaft
Journal of Family Psychology: JFP 2010, 24 (3): 328-38
Project Support is an intervention designed to decrease coercive patterns of aggressive discipline and increase positive parenting. This research evaluates Project Support in a sample of families reported to Children's Protective Services (CPS) for allegations of physical abuse or neglect; 35 families with a child between 3- and 8-years-old participated. In all families, CPS allowed the children to remain in the family home while the family received services. Families were randomly assigned to receive either Project Support or services as usual, which were provided by CPS or CPS-contracted service providers. To evaluate intervention effects, a multimethod, multi-informant assessment strategy was used that included data from mothers' reports, direct observation of parents' behavior, and review of CPS records for re-referrals for child maltreatment. Families who received Project Support services showed greater decreases than families who received services as usual in the following areas: mothers' perceived inability to manage childrearing responsibilities, mothers' reports of harsh parenting, and observations of ineffective parenting practices. Only 5.9% of families in the Project Support condition had a subsequent referral to CPS for child maltreatment, compared with 27.7% of families in the comparison condition. The results suggest that Project Support may be a promising intervention for reducing child maltreatment among families in which it has occurred.

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