Session: Preventing Child Maltreatment in Family, Neighborhood, and Policy Contexts: Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Start (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

100 Preventing Child Maltreatment in Family, Neighborhood, and Policy Contexts: Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Start

Friday, January 15, 2016: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Ballroom Level-Renaissance Ballroom West Salon A (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Kaela Byers, LMSW, University of Kansas
Barbara Hirschman Chaiyachati, MD, PhD, Yale University
It is well established that experiences of adversity early in life increase vulnerability to difficulties in learning, physical health, and social-emotional health, which have implications for wellbeing throughout the life course. Thus, a fundamental component of optimizing wellbeing is the prevention of child maltreatment, as experiences of maltreatment threaten the safe and healthy start necessary for promoting a positive lifelong trajectory. Modifiable risk factors for child maltreatment, including harsh and intrusive parenting practices and maternal depression, deserve particular attention in prevention given their potential to be augmented by effective interventions. In this symposium, we bring together novel work on three modifiable risk factors (maternal depression, harsh parenting, and community context) and their associations with child maltreatment. Drawing on an ecobiodevelopmental framework, we provide important insights for micro, mezzo, and macro practice on risk amelioration through intervention design, promotion of known protective factors, and using best practices in current service systems.

The first paper clarifies the relationship between maternal depression and child maltreatment by recognizing heterogeneous experiences of maternal depression among young mothers in a manner relevant to intervention design. Specifically this paper highlights the importance of initiating prevention efforts including screening and treatment of parent mental health issues at the earliest possible opportunity to maximize child wellbeing. The second paper similarly expands upon the relation between a known modifiable risk factor, harsh parenting, and child outcomes over time while accounting for bidirectional influences in the mother-child relationship. The mother-child relationship is a protective factor with important implications for improving upon problematic parenting behaviors that threaten child social-emotional regulatory capabilities. These two papers together examine risk, protection, and promotion of child wellbeing in a micro practice context, and provide recommendations for best practices with children and families that promote safe, stable, and healthy environments.

The third paper extends beyond this micro focus to address how neighborhood-level socioeconomic conditions impact parenting micro-cultures among families of young children, focusing specifically on use of harsh parenting behaviors. By linking neighborhood contextual factors to parenting, this paper illustrates how optimizing the mezzo environment by reducing extreme inequalities and building healthy communities with access to resources for children and families may reduce risk for child maltreatment.

Finally, the fourth paper considers best practices in policy uptake and implementation by examining referral, engagement, and services for high-risk families to address the effects of child maltreatment and prevent recurrence. This final paper provides the macro context with lessons for policy implementation to ensure intended effects are realized when policies are rolled out for broad application.

Together, these papers apply a variety of methods and analytic techniques across the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice to explore risk amelioration through intervention design, promotion of known protective factors, and using best practices in current service systems. These papers illustrate interdisciplinary and applied efforts across the spectrum of child maltreatment prevention research toward the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare Grand Challenge of a good and healthy start for all children.

* noted as presenting author
Adolescent Motherhood: Understanding the Link Between Maternal Depression, Parenting, and Child Maltreatment
Chie Kotake, MA, Tufts University; Ann Easterbrooks, PhD, Tufts University
Harsh Parenting and Emotion Regulation Across Infancy
Jennifer A. Mortensen, PhD, University of Arizona; Katherine W. Paschall, MS, University of Arizona; Melissa A. Barnett, PhD, University of Arizona; Ann M. Mastergeorge, PhD, University of Arizona
Neighborhoods and Risk for Maltreatment: A Multilevel Study
Elizabeth A. Shuey, PhD, Tufts University; Tama Leventhal, PhD, Tufts University
Best Practices in Providing Part C Early Intervention Services to Families Involved with Child Protective Services
April D. Allen, MPA, MA, Brandeis University; Lisa Tse, BA, Columbia University
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