Abstract: Predictors of Family Engagement in Child PTSD Screening Following Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Predictors of Family Engagement in Child PTSD Screening Following Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence

Thursday, January 21, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Amanda Stylianou, PhD, Associate Vice President, Quality & Program Development, Safe Horizon, New York, NY
Kristina Nikolova, PhD, Assistant Professor, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Arsly Rodriguez, Senior Director of the Child Trauma Response Team, Safe Horizon
Elizabeth Ebright, Safe Horizon, Safe Horizon
Background and Purpose: Children’s exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) impacts one in five children and can result in significant negative effects, including impacts on children’s mental health, physical health, and cognitive and social development, particularly when it overlaps with child physical abuse or neglect. Most family violence occurs during the first seven years of a child’s life, when brain development is most vulnerable and susceptible to the negative effects of trauma, making children exposed to IPV at significant risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or PTSD symptomatology. Early intervention can prevent the development of PTSD but requires the support of caregivers, making caregiver engagement a crucial component of intervention efforts. The Child Trauma Response Team (CTRT), a multiagency partnership, provides a coordinated, immediate, trauma-informed, and interdisciplinary response to children under age 18 and their impacted family members who have been exposed to IPV. The purpose of this evaluation was to determine what factors predict family engagement with the CTRT, as evidence by parental completion of a PTSD screen of the impacted child(ren).

Methods: Program data during the implementation phase of the CTRT was used, totalling 244 families and 352 children. Caregiver and children’s socieodemographic information was collected, as well as the crime classification of the incident, and the type of services provided to the family (e.g. outreach, counseling, safety assessment). Classification and regression tree (CRT) analyses were used to determine the most important predictors to family engagement with the CTRT program. Logistic regressions were used to confirm the CRT findings.

Results: 70% of children completed a child PTSD screen and 74.3% of those children screened positive for trauma symptoms. The safety assessment service was a predictor of families’ engagement in child PTSD screens. Hispanic families, felony incident, and older caregiver age were also associated with higher rates of trauma screening. A positive child trauma screen was predicted by the child’s ethnicity, the caregiver age, and the crime classification.

Conclusions and Implications: Community-based collaborative interventions can be used to assess caregiver and children’s safety and well-being post-IPV. The findings indicate that there are subpopulations that are under-engaged in trauma services and would benefit from targeted engagement attempts, including Black families and families who have experienced a misdemeanor IPV incident. The role of safety assessments in predicting families’ engagement indicates that developing program models that comprehensively address the needs of caregivers and children exposed to IPV should be a crucial component of interventions aimed at children and families.