Abstract: Before and after: An Examination of the Impact of Parenting Program Participation on Parental Attitudes Among Substance Abuse Affected, Child Welfare Involved Families (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Before and after: An Examination of the Impact of Parenting Program Participation on Parental Attitudes Among Substance Abuse Affected, Child Welfare Involved Families

Friday, January 14, 2022
Monument, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Jody Brook, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Kiley Liming, PhD, Associate Researcher, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Kaela Byers, PhD, Associate Research Professor, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
D. Crystal Coles, PhD, Assistant Professor, Morgan State University
Background/Purpose: Parenting skills and education programs are among the most prevalent interventions for families involved in child welfare (CW) services. These programs generally center on the transfer of parenting knowledge, attitude and skills. Minimal research exists examining attitudes of parents involved in CW, despite the evidence indicating that high-risk parenting attitudes are correlated with loss of parental rights (i.e., Grella & Greenwell (2006). To fill this void, this study investigated if caregivers, who were substance-affected and randomized to participate in the Strengthening Families Program: Birth-to-Three (SFP B-3), demonstrated positive improvements on their parenting and child-rearing attitudes from program start to finish (total of 16 weeks). Parenting attitudes were measured with the Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI-2), which includes five subscales (expectations, empathy, alternative discipline methods, parent-child roles, and supporting independence).

Methods: The sample included caregivers (N=220) with young, substance-affected children in out-of-home placement with a case plan goal of reunification. All caregivers were randomly selected to receive SFP B-3, a 14-session parenting-skills intervention. Researchers conducted paired t-tests analyses to determine if there was a statistically significant mean difference in parenting attitudes at baseline compared to program exit on all five scales. Further, researchers conducted paired t-tests using calculated norm scores referenced off a national sample to compare study caregivers to other parents of the same gender, age group, and ethnicity. Norm scores ranged from 1 (i.e., high risk for child maltreatment) to 10 (i.e., nurturing parenting style). Caregivers who completed the program (when compared to those who failed to complete) had statistically significant differences in income level.

Results: Caregivers were primarily White (75%) females (85%). Results indicated statistically significant improvements on three of the five measurement scales: expectations (t(219)=2.36, p<.05), empathy (t(219)=10.03, p<.001), and corporal punishment (t(219)=2.08, p<.05). Non-significant results were found on the role reversal scale and the power/independence scale. When comparing study caregivers to a national sample, using norm scores, study caregivers demonstrated statistically significant improvements on the empathy (t(219)=5.02, p<.001) and role reversal scales (t(219)=4.38, p<.001).

Conclusion/Implications: Caregivers who completed this parenting intervention significantly improved on having realistic expectations, demonstrating empathy, and valuing alternatives to corporal punishment. Results suggest that participation in this intervention may improve parenting attitudes and practices of caregivers who are substance-affected and seeking reunification with their young children. More research is needed in the area of parenting programs for this population, and the benefits of positive parenting attitudes on child safety, well-being and permanency outcomes.