Family Connections is a community-based neglect prevention program targeting at-risk families with children between the ages of 5 and 11. The program, based at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, was the only program in the nation designated as "demonstrated effective" in showing positive outcomes in the prevention of child abuse and neglect, in the 2003 report, Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Evaluation results show Family Connections improves protective factors such as parenting skills and attitudes, and reduces risk factors such as parent depression, caregiver drug use, caregiver stress, and children's behavioral problems. The program also demonstrated reduced incidents of child abuse and neglect and increased child safety and well-being.
Building on the positive outcomes from the original program, this program is now being replicated in eight communities with funding from the Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The replication projects were awarded as cooperative agreements between the grantee and the Children’s Bureau, allowing for considerable input, on a continuing basis, by the Bureau. Each project was awarded both planning and implementation funds. At the end of the planning phase (11 months), each project developed and submitted for Children’s Bureau approval, an implementation plan for their replication project. Each project has made revisions to their implementation plan based on Children’s Bureau input and was given approval to move forward. Each project will be expected, during the implementation phase (1 month plus 4 years), to manage, administer the program, monitor and evaluate the replication projects. Given the need for more rigorous research on prevention programs, the evaluation design for all the projects must include random assignment and a cost-analysis of the project. All projects are currently in their first year of implementation, which began October 2004.
With technical assistance and support from James Bell Associates, the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, the following has been accomplished by this grantee cluster:
• Identified and agreed upon the Family Connections fidelity criteria which outline the critical components of the model;
• Identified and agreed upon cross-site outcome measures and instruments in the domains of risk and protective factors, and child safety and well-being;
• Identified and agreed upon cross-site data elements to be submitted to the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect;
• Identified and agreed upon cross-site cost analysis data elements for the Pre-Implementation and Implementation phases of the project;
• Agreed upon a common framework for the local evaluations which include informed consent and random assignment to treatment and control groups, and a plan for conducting intent to treat analysis as part of their evaluation plans.
The Family Connections replicating sites include:
Black Family Development, Inc., Detroit, MI
Child and Family Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Children's Institute International, Los Angeles, CA
DePelchin Children's Center, Houston, TX
Respite Care of San Antonio, Inc., San Antonio, TX
Special Service for Groups, Los Angeles, CA
University of Maryland Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Youth Health Service, Inc., Elkins, WV
Lin Brodowski, M., Dubowitz, H., & Filene, J. Family Connections National Replication Project: Lessons Learned from the First Two Years. NIH Neglect Consortium Meeting, January 19, 2006.
New Potential Replication of Family Connections, contact Diane DePanfilis, Ph.D., MSW, at firstname.lastname@example.org,