New Research Shows Parents as Teachers Home Visiting Model Significantly Reduces Child Abuse and Neglect

New research published this month in Child Abuse & Neglect, The International Journal found that the Parents as Teachers® evidence-based home visiting model demonstrates a significant decrease in cases of child maltreatment when home visiting services are delivered through a scaled-up, statewide home visiting program.

The research represents one of the largest studies in the U.S. conducted to investigate the impact of home visiting on child maltreatment, including nearly 8,000 families. Researchers found a 22% decreased likelihood of substantiated cases of child maltreatment as reported by Child Protective Services data when comparing two groups of children born to first-time mothers. Children whose mothers received home visiting were compared to children whose mothers where eligible for home visiting but did not receive the services.

“Parents as Teachers is a family-centered, results-driven approach in our department’s portfolio of programs to support young children and families, particularly those who are overburdened and underserved. A 22% reduction in child abuse cases is a measurable result that proves PAT materially improves lives while also generating cost savings for our state. We’re excited that this new research suggests we should see PAT providers be rewarded for future successes through our newly released ‘rate card’ that pays home visiting providers for outcomes. We support thescaling of high quality services based on evidence and measurable results,” said David Wilkinson, Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.

Dr. Barbara Chaiyachati, principal investigator on the study, formerly at Yale School of Medicine and current pediatrics resident at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, noted that, “Safe, stable nurturing relationships and environments are essential to prevent child abuse and neglect. This study provides promise that large-scale home visiting programs may be able to prevent child maltreatment, yet more studies are needed to confirm and clarify these findings."

“This study is an important demonstration of the results that can be generated from large-scale implementation of the Parents as Teachers home visiting model. It helps create a clearer picture for communities about which programs work best to build positive interactions between parents and infants and young children,” said Allison Kemner, Vice President of Research and Quality at Parents as Teachers National Center. “Parents as Teachers can stop abuse and neglect before it occurs,” said Kemner.

“Parents as Teachers is designed to work closely with families through a trusting relationship with a trained professional to address critical parenting issues and behaviors that promote protective factors or the conditions that reduce or eliminate risk and promote healthy development and well-being of children,” said Constance Gully, President and CEO of Parents as Teachers National Center. “Our families are dealing with a lot of stressors, including high rates of poverty, maternal depression, opioid abuse, and teen parenting. We are truly humbled that this new research confirms that our home visiting model has such a significant impact on supporting families and children being healthy, safe and ready to learn.”

"As home visiting programs go to scale, states should consider replicating this study using their administrative data and appropriate statistical methods to create a robust comparison group capable of generating rigorous findings regarding the effects of early intervention efforts on child maltreatment rates," said Dr. Deborah Daro, Senior Research Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Other investigators were John M. Leventhal, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine; Julie R. Gaither, PhD, Instructor of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine; Marcia Hughes, PhD, Research & Evaluation Analyst, Center for Social Research, University of Hartford; and Karen Foley-Schain, MA, MEd, LLC, former Director of the Nurturing Families Network in Connecticut. This study was done in collaboration with two state agencies in Connecticut: the Office of Early Childhood and the Department of Children and Families.

Lucas McCue