Methods: This study utilized a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the effectiveness of FRT. In this design, state administrative data was used to compare long-term outcomes for children whose families received FRT with children in the same child welfare region whose families received services as usual. Propensity score matching was used to match participants on key characteristics and control for differences between groups. Additionally, surveys were collected from therapists, clients and supervisors to assess short-term outcomes for the intervention group.
Results: Key findings include:
- Therapists and caregivers reported improvements across family social supports, caregiver decision-making capacity, family violence, parenting stress, substance use, and caregiver knowledge about child development.
- Caregivers reported more optimism regarding overall family dynamics and wellbeing, and therapists reported improvements in client in-home safety.
- The intervention group had statistically significantly fewer investigations with confirmed maltreatment allegations compared to the comparison group. Mann-Whitney U tests indicated that investigations with confirmed allegations in the past 6 months were greater for the comparison group (mean rank: 27.50) than for the comparison group (mean rank: 23.25; U=262.5, p=.039).
- The number of new foster care entries did not differ significantly between groups, though the intervention group had fewer entries in the 6 months prior.
- Neither the intervention group nor the comparison group had new family-based services cases.
Conclusion and Implications:
Findings revealed significant improvements across nearly all short-term outcomes. These findings are promising and speak to the emphasis of FRT on child development and family social support, which are clear areas of strength for the program which may contribute to overall family stability, an important factor in mitigating risk for child maltreatment. Regarding long-term outcomes, children in the intervention group had significantly fewer confirmed maltreatment allegations than children in the comparison group. While there were not many significant differences between groups, this is promising and suggests that families that participate in FRT may have more success in keeping their children safe than families who do not participate in FRT. These outcomes should continue to be assessed as the population of families served grows.