Bridging Disciplinary Boundaries (January 11 - 14, 2007)
This study uses data from a nationally representative sample of children referred for child abuse and neglect (NSCAW). Specifically, this analysis uses the services and safety outcomes after 36-months of 368 children who were initially placed in-home and received FGDM during the initial case assessment. Given potential selection biases in determining who receives FGDM, propensity score matching (PSM) was used to create a matched comparison group of cases that did not receive FGDM. Because preliminary bivariate analysis showed that families who receive FGDM significantly differ from families who do not receive FGDM in regard to the child's age, type of abuse, number of types of abuse, severity of harm of abuse, and proportion of cases receiving FGDM among all cases within each primary sampling unit, these variables were used to estimate the propensity score for receipt of FGDM. The resulting matched sample contains 333 FGDM cases and 333 comparison cases that did not experience FGDM.
Analysis using PSM shows that families who experienced FGDM were significantly more likely to receive certain services for children and caregivers as reported at baseline than families who did not experience FGDM. Analysis using PSM shows that families who experienced FGDM were significantly more likely to receive caregiver counseling, substance abuse, and mental health services as well as child mental health services as reported at baseline. By 36-months most differences in service receipt disappeared, except for family preservation services where families who experienced FGDM were more likely to receive these services than families who did not experience FGDM. For children's safety outcomes, analysis shows that children who experienced FGDM did not significantly differ from those who did not experience FGDM in regard to re-reports or substantiated re-reports of subsequent maltreatment after 36-months.
This study provides one of the first national and longitudinal assessments of the outcomes of children who received FGDM. The findings provide a much needed national-level description of the services and safety outcomes of children who received FGDM. Given the limitations due to selection biases in using non-FGDM cases as a comparison for assessment, the use of PSM in this study allowed for a more accurate assessment by creating a matched comparison group of non-FGDM cases. Furthermore, since experimental assignment of cases to FGDM may be controversial, the use of PSM is one way to estimate how long-term outcomes differ for children who did and did not receive FGDM. The findings show early boosts in service receipt. Findings regarding children's long-term safety outcomes highlight the need for agencies to focus on additional ways that their FGDM efforts can be improved to prevent subsequent reports of child maltreatment.