The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Helping Mandated Moms Who Are Intimate Partner Violence Victims with Their Parenting

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 11:15 AM
Nautilus 4 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Cynthia F. Rizo, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Rebecca J. Macy, PhD, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Shenyang Guo, PhD, Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Dania Ermentrout, MSW, MPH, Clinical Instructor and MOVE Evaluation Project Manager, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background and Purpose: Increasingly female, intimate partner violence (IPV) victims who are their children's primary caregivers are mandated to services by child protection services (CPS) and/or the courts. Many states' child welfare policies consider IPV-exposure to be child maltreatment, and IPV victims involved with CPS are often mandated to parenting programs. IPV victims become court-involved when they are arrested for using violence to defend themselves or their children from male perpetrators (Muftić et al., 2007). Once adjudicated, these victims are often mandated to parenting programs in lieu of jail. Unfortunately, scant evidence exists regarding parenting programs for CPS- and/or court-mandated IPV victims.

Growing numbers of such IPV victims troubled the staff at two community-based agencies (a child abuse prevention agency and an IPV prevention agency) in a southeastern U.S. city. The two agencies partnered to develop a manualized, empowerment-based, parenting program for these women. Using a group modality, participants met together once per week with two group leaders for 13 meetings to focus on IPV and parenting.

In collaboration with these agencies, our team conducted research to complete the first phase of evidence-based practice development (treatment development, feasibility and pilot testing; Fraser & Galinsky, 2010). We aimed to determine whether the program showed promise in improving participants' parenting attitudes and behaviors. 

Methods: Following court and/or CPS referral, IPV victims who entered into the program were invited into the research. Those who consented were assessed via standardized instruments at three time points: program entry, program completion, and three-month follow-up. Parenting information was collected using the Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI) and the Healthy Families Parenting Inventory (HFPI). The AAPI has four subscales (punishment, empathy, inappropriate expectations, role reversal) to assess attitudes related to harsh or neglectful parenting. The HFPI has nine subscales (depression, home environment, parenting efficacy, parent/child behaviors, personal care, problem solving, resources, role satisfaction, social support) to assess beneficial parenting. To analyze these data, we first investigated interclass correlation coefficients to assess for group treatment effects. We then used hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to investigate changes in longitudinal trajectories.

Results: Seventy three women consented, which was an 82% participation rate among those who began the program (N=89). Many research participants remained at program completion (96%; n=70) and follow-up (82%; n=60). Interclass correlation coefficients were non-significant for group treatment effects. While accounting for important covariates (education, income, race, relationship status), HLM analyses showed statistically significant improvements on punishment (p<.05); home environment (p<.01); role satisfaction (p<05); and parenting efficacy (p<.01), and positive data trends on personal care (p<.10); problem solving (p<.10); role reversal (p<.10); and social support (p<.10).

Conclusions and Implications: This community-based program showed promise for improving participants' self-reported parenting attitudes and behaviors. These findings are significant because no policy or practice interventions for IPV victims who are CPS- and/or court-mandated to services have yet been determined. Given such findings, the program warrants future investigation with a rigorous randomized-control trial. In addition to discussing next research steps, we will provide attendees with information on promising intervention strategies from this program.