Abstract: Parents As Teachers and Parenting Protective Factors: A Pre- Post Evaluation of Program Participants (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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204P Parents As Teachers and Parenting Protective Factors: A Pre- Post Evaluation of Program Participants

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Xiao Ding, MSSA, Doctoral students, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Catherine LaBrenz, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
Beth Gerlach, PhD, LCSW, Associate Director, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Swetha Nulu, MPH, Assistant Research Director, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Monica Faulkner, PhD, Research Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin, TX
Background: Child maltreatment has been linked to long-term negative mental and physical health outcomes and can negatively impact developmental trajectories. This impact can be particularly detrimental for infants and young children, given the rapid brain development that occurs during the first few years of life. Yet, studies have found that protective factors, such as social support and resilience, can help reduce child maltreatment rates. Thus, it is important to identify programs that can support parents and increase protective factors to reduce the likelihood of maltreatment.

Methods: Data for this study come from an evaluation of the Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES). The HOPES program was implemented at 24 sites across Texas between 2015 and 2018 and allowed each community to select evidence-based programs targeting child maltreatment prevention. The sample for this study includes N = 803 primary caregivers who participated in a Parents as Teachers program as part of HOPES. Paired t-tests were run to examine changes in protective factors between a pre- and post-test among program participants. Protective factors were measured by the Parenting Assessment of Protective Factors (PAPF), a scale that measures resilience, social connectedness, support, and parenting competence. A series of linear regressions were run to examine the relationship between covariates, such as employment status, living arrangement, and pregnancy, on changes in each PAPF subscale.

Results: Respondents had consistently lower scores on all PAPF subscales at pre-test; this included a 0.05 point increase on the resilience subscale (t=14.18, p<.001; a 0.22 point increase on the social connections subscale (t=39.77, p<.001); a 0.22 point increase on the concrete support subscale (t=45.97, p<.001); a 0.08 point increase on the parenting competence subscale (t=22.53, p<.001); and a 0.14 point increase on the overall PAPF measure (t=41.49, p<.001). None of the covariates was associated with changes in the PAPF subscales.

Conclusion: Results from this study suggest that caregivers who participated in the Parents as Teachers child maltreatment prevention program had higher levels of protective factors after program completion. This includes protective factors related to resilience, social connectedness, knowledge of child development, and perceived support. Future research should compare changes among a Parents as Teachers sample to a control group and examine changes over time to be able to control for other confounding factors. However, given the link between protective factors and reductions in child maltreatment, the findings from this study add to the child welfare literature about programs that could increase protective factors.