Session: Improving the Well-Being of Children Who Experience Trauma: A Focus on Parenting and Child Outcomes in the Context of Early Intervention (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

32 Improving the Well-Being of Children Who Experience Trauma: A Focus on Parenting and Child Outcomes in the Context of Early Intervention

Thursday, January 11, 2018: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Marquis BR Salon 9 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Mental Health
Symposium Organizer:
Jessica Dym Bartlett, MSW, PhD, Child Trends Inc
Lisa Berlin, PhD, University of Maryland at College Park
Childhood trauma is a pervasive problem in the United States. Almost half of all children—approximately 35 million—experience one or more types of trauma by the time they reach adulthood (National Survey of Children's Health, 2012). Moreover, traumatic events (e.g., child abuse and neglect, exposure to substance misuse by a parent) can have serious and lifelong impacts on children's development, including difficulty forming secure attachments with caregivers, internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and mental health and substance use disorders (Perry, 2002). Additionally, parenting in the context of trauma is challenging given that the parents themselves may have trauma histories or limited parenting capacities secondary to mental health or substance use disorders. Social workers are well-positioned to provide intervention that many children and their caregivers need to mitigate these effects of trauma and to promote healthy parent-child relationships that support the child's healing process, even when a parent is the source of trauma in the first place. This symposium brings together social work researchers from four institutions across the country, both academia and non-profit research, to present quantitative and qualitative findings from evaluations of childhood and parenting interventions that address trauma.

The first paper presents findings from an evaluation of a statewide, trauma-informed care intervention in child welfare. Authors used quantitative methods to assess and contrast the effects of three evidence-based trauma treatments, Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC; Kinniburgh et al., 2005) Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP; Lieberman & VanHorn, 2004/2016), and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT; Cohen et al., 2006), on behavior and posttraumatic stress symptoms among maltreated children (n=842; birth-age 18). The results highlight variation in the effectiveness of different trauma therapies and potential explanations for differences in treatment outcomes.

The second paper is a descriptive evaluation of the effects of trauma on children's behavioral and emotional functioning, and the role of attachment in treatment outcomes among children who experience traumatic events at the hands of their caregivers. The evaluation was conducted with children (n=333; ages 2-8 years) and families who participated in therapy due to child trauma. Findings indicate that children with normal attachment may be less impacted by trauma and exhibit more resilience to trauma compared to children with low levels of attachment.

The third paper reports on select findings from a mixed methods evaluation of a dyadic, attachment-based parenting intervention for mothers in treatment for substance dependence. The evaluation utilized a newly developed measure of parents' reflective functioning (RF) and interview data where participants shared perceptions of change in parental RF. Qualitative findings served to unpack the meaning of the quantitative measure offering greater understanding of the process of change in parenting capacities.

Taken together, the three papers will highlight successful intervention outcomes for young children and caregivers who experience trauma. Our discussant, a widely respected expert in program evaluation, parent-child interventions, child maltreatment, and other forms of trauma, will identify key questions and common themes about these interventions and parental and child outcomes with a focus on implications for social work research, policy, and practice.

* noted as presenting author
The Effect of a Statewide, Trauma-Informed Intervention in Child Welfare on Child Well-Being
Jessica Dym Bartlett, MSW, PhD, Child Trends Inc; Beth Barto, LMHC, LUK Inc.; Ruth Bodian, MSW, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families
Studying Mechanisms of Change in a Trauma-Focused Parenting Intervention: Using Qualitative Data to Understand Quantitative Measurement
Ruth Paris, PhD, Boston University; Anna Herriott, MSW, Boston University; Jae Quinn, MPH, Boston University
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