Sunday, 16 January 2005 - 8:45 AM
This presentation is part of: Outcomes of Child Welfare Services
The Effectiveness of Aftercare Following Intensive Family Preservation ServicesKristine E. Nelson, DSW, Graduate School of Social Work, Portland State University and James K. Nash, PhD, Graduate School of Social Work, Portland State University.
There has been considerable controversy concerning the effectiveness of intensive family preservation services, especially in cases of child neglect (Berry, 1992; Fraser, Nelson, & Rivard, 1997; Nelson & Landsman, 1992; Yuan & Struckman-Johnson, 1991). This paper reports the results of a demonstration project that investigated the effectiveness of adding an extended (up to 12 months) aftercare component to an existing intensive family preservation program for African-American families. Target children were African American or mixed race, under 12, and at imminent risk of placement. Methods The evaluation component of the demonstration project employed a longitudinal design using families as their own controls. All families referred by child protective services were asked to participate in the evaluation of the demonstration project and 118 families or 47.6% of those referred completed pre- and post-tests. Of these, 69 received aftercare services for an average of 117 days following six to eight weeks of intensive services. Factors contributing to child well-being were measured using 20 items from Magura and Moses’ (1986) Child Well-Being Scales (alpha = .85). In keeping with the cultural traditions of the African-American community, kinship care was counted as a successful family preservation outcome. Non-relative placement included foster care, family foster care, foster group care, residential treatment, assessment services, and hospital placement. Results There were no initial differences between the intensive service only and aftercare groups except in caregiver motivation. More caregivers receiving aftercare (60.3%) were initially rated as motivated and realistic than caregivers receiving intensive services only (40.5%), χ2(1) = 3.66, p = .056. Factors contributing to child well-being improved significantly from intake to the end of intensive services, t(109) = -2.34, p < .01. The rate of non-relative placement for families during the 12-month period that preceded the intervention was 41.5% (n = 49) and 20.3% (n = 24) in the 12-months following termination, p < .01. Families receiving aftercare had a placement rate of 13%, χ2(1) = 5.46, p < .05. A logistic regression examined the influence of family and service characteristics on placement rates. The final model included criminal involvement of a family member, mental health issues, aftercare, and chronic neglect (three or more substantiated referrals in a seven year period). All except aftercare increased the likelihood of placement. The model correctly predicted 97.9% of non-placement and 45.8% of placement cases. Implications The reduction in non-relative placements by half in the year following termination of services supports the effectiveness of providing culturally-relevant intensive family preservation and aftercare services to African-American families with children at imminent risk of placement. Significant improvement in factors contributing to child well-being indicates that child safety was not compromised by providing services as an alternative to placement. Additional efforts are needed to increase effectiveness with caregivers who are criminally involved or who have mental health issues. Short-term intensive family preservation services, even with extended aftercare, do not appear to be effective with families experiencing chronic neglect. Modifications of the intensive family preservation services model are needed to address problems associated with chronic neglect.
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