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Dec/Jan 2011Vol. 11, No. 10Evaluating the Effectiveness of Family Connections

Family Connections (FC) is a multifaceted program that works with at-risk families in their homes to prevent child abuse and neglect. Piloted in 1996, the program showed such promising results that a replication was designed and sponsored by the Children's Bureau's Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) with 5-year cooperative agreements at three sites. A recent special issue of the journal Protecting Children profiles lessons learned from these replication projects.

Nine practice principles guide FC interventions: community outreach, individualized family assessment, tailored interventions, helping alliances, empowerment approaches, a strengths-based perspective, cultural competence, developmental appropriateness, and outcome-driven service plans. Individualized intervention is designed to increase protective factors (e.g., social support) and decrease risk factors (e.g., parental depressive symptoms) associated with child maltreatment.

The core components of the FC Demonstration Program included (1) emergency assistance, (2) home-visiting family intervention, (3) advocacy and service coordination, and (4) multifamily supportive and recreational activities. Families were assigned to receive the same core services, but for different lengths of time (3 versus 9 months).

The eight Protecting Children articles present outcomes from the replication sites and some overall analyses. Topics discussed in the articles include:

  • Cultural adaptations to FC for Cambodian refugee and Korean immigrant population groups
  • Clinical and programmatic processes associated with a helping alliance that were used by counselors to achieve a high level of engagement and successful outcomes with a high-risk family
  • Client characteristics and service use measures predicting families' successful completion of services
  • Implementation of therapeutic assessment as a technique to help high-risk families and as an avenue to collect data on program performance in a community-based mental health setting
  • Modifications made to FC to address the needs of grandparent families
  • The importance of involving and engaging program staff, including direct practice staff, in cost analyses
  • Methods for conducting rigorous programmatic cost analyses

Protecting Children is published by American Humane. This issue (Volume 24, Issue 3) is available for free download on the website: (1,720 KB)

Related Item

Children's Bureau Express last wrote about the Family Connections grantees in "Replicating Effective Prevention: Children's Bureau Grantees" (April 2009).