Friday, January 17, 2020: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Marquis BR Salon 12, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Child Welfare (CW)
Kristen Slack, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Richard Barth, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore
After decades of research demonstrating an inverse correlation between income and child maltreatment risk, little is understood about the extent to which this connection is causal. In 2011, the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board began a five-year experimental study of an intervention designed to improve the economic circumstances of families investigated by child protective services (CPS) in Milwaukee, WI, whose cases were closed at the investigation's conclusion. This population is known to have both a high rate of re-involvement with CPS, and to experience high rates of poverty and economic hardship. The intervention, Project Gain (Getting Access to Income Now), involved a package of short-term (i.e., 4-6 weeks) economic supportsemergency assistance, advocacy around access to means-tested government benefits, and assistance with employment, housing, and financial decision-making. The primary question guiding the evaluation was: How much child maltreatment prevention can be achieved by focusing on economic supports alone?
The purpose of this symposium is to disseminate the initial findings from the evaluation with respect to intervention impact, as well as the predictors of other key outcomes like program participation and engagement, and the role of income instability in predicting child maltreatment. Paper 1 presents the impact results for an early and a late cohort of families eligible for participation in the study. This analysis relies on state administrative data. Paper 2 presents the impact results for a third study cohort, which was administered a baseline and one-year follow-up survey in the final year of the study. Paper 3 offers the results of an analysis of the predictors of program participation and engagement in the treatment group. Paper 4 is a descriptive analysis of the role of income instability in predicting future CPS intervention.
Together, these analyses provide important insight about the potential benefits, and limits, of a short-term intervention intended to improve the economic well-being of families as a means of reducing child maltreatment risk. The results have implications for the design of future efforts to reduce child maltreatment using economic support strategies, and for the child maltreatment prevention field, in general.
* noted as presenting author