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OU Researchers Find Home-Based Intervention Prevents Abuse
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center found a home-based intervention program aimed at preventing recurrence of child abuse and neglect is working in Oklahoma.
The statewide trial evaluated the effectiveness of SafeCare. The SafeCare model is designed to directly address home safety, home cleanliness, nutrition, child medical care and parent-child interactions, said OU researcher Mark Chaffin, Ph.D., of the OU Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. Chaffin is also a professor of pediatrics with the OU College of Medicine.
Chaffin said the research found the SafeCare model reduced recidivism of child abuse and neglect among families in the child welfare system.
“Often, parents are completely overwhelmed. The SafeCare program gives them the knowledge, skills and resources to care for their children,” Chaffin said.
With the SafeCare Model, home visitors work in the home with each family for one to two hours a week over a period of about six months.
Researchers estimate that implementation of the SafeCare model in Oklahoma prevents up to 104 first-year maltreatment recurrences per 1,000 cases. Recidivism over four years fell from 70 percent to about 50 percent among study participants.
The model targets physical abuse and neglect, particularly child neglect. Child neglect cases comprise 78 percent of child protective services cases, researchers said.
The OU study was the largest ever to test the SafeCare model. The trial involved 219 home visitors who served 2,175 parents between 2003 and 2006.
Half of Oklahoma’s home-based programs adopted SafeCare and the other half continued to deliver standard services. The project was funded by a $3.4 million National Institutes of Health grant, with additional support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The program is being replicated in several other states as well, and Chaffin and colleagues are researching its effectiveness in a multi-county project in California.
Since the trial ended, all of Oklahoma’s child welfare home-based programs have converted to the SafeCare model.
“Oklahoma has now become the first state to fully scale up an evidence-based home visiting model for families in the child welfare system,” Chaffin said.
Pilot studies designed to further improve the effectiveness of the model have been conducted by OUHSC researchers and plans are in place to test these improvements in later trials.
The statewide Oklahoma trial is published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.