Methods: 5,840 families were randomly assigned to the treatment and control conditions at a ratio ranging from 1:1 to 3:1, depending on the service capacity of the program over time. Two cohorts were analyzed separately: (1) an initial or “early” cohort that was restricted to families with at least one child five years of age or younger, and a subsequent or “later” cohort, where these child age restrictions were lifted. Intent-to-treat (ITT) and treatment-on-treated (TOT) analyses were conducted, controlling for a set of baseline family characteristics.
Results: An intent-to-treat analysis revealed no differences between treatment and control groups in the early cohort, and a modest difference in post-randomization CPS involvement, with the treatment group demonstrating favorable results. This decline was most pronounced in families with lower baseline incomes, which were approximated by summing earnings, child support income, and TANF, unemployment insurance, and SNAP benefits. Treatment-on-treated analyses to assess the impact of more frequent home visits again showed program effects in the expected direction, which were more pronounced in the families with lowest incomes. Across all analyses, no statistically significant differences emerged.
Conclusions and implications: These findings, although not statistically significant, suggest that providing economic support to families at risk of child maltreatment, especially those with lower incomes, may be a promising preventive tool for CPS intervention. The short-term and limited nature of the intervention produced results that trended in the hypothesized direction. Future interventions that provide longer and more intensive economic supports, or that integrate the Project GAIN model in other evidence-based prevention programs, are in need of testing.