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February 2011Vol. 12, No. 1Keeping Young Children Safely With Their Families: The QIC on Early Childhood

Since the award of its 2008 Children's Bureau grant, the National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC) has promoted the development, dissemination, and integration of new knowledge about preventing maltreatment among infants and young children at high risk for abuse, neglect, and abandonment. National statistics continue to show that these children are the most vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

The QIC is funding four research and development projects and two doctoral student projects focused on promoting protective factors and minimizing risk factors for abuse and neglect. Each project targets a specific population and uses innovative methods to strengthen families and keep children safely in their own homes.

Project DuLCe will test a combination of Healthy Steps home visiting, legal assistance, a pediatric medical home model, and other supports with families of young infants in a high-poverty urban neighborhood who seek medical services through a community health center. The evaluation will look at maltreatment outcomes at the family and community levels.

The Family Networks Project will explore the effectiveness of training for parents and workers: Stepping Stones Triple P training for parents of young children with developmental disabilities, and adapted Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect training for Part C early intervention coordinators. The evaluation will consider the impact of different combinations of services and training on a variety of child, family, and family-service provider relationship outcomes.

Fostering Hope will provide a variety of community and individual services—including neighborhood development, home visiting with wraparound supports, parenting education and support groups, volunteer respite care, access to mental health and addictions treatment, and concrete services—to three high-poverty neighborhoods with a high percentage of Hispanic/Latino families. The evaluation will look at maltreatment rates in comparison to similar neighborhoods not receiving these services.

The Strong Start Study will use high-fidelity wraparound to deliver gender-specific substance use treatment to pregnant women and early intervention services through Part C to their infants, also helping the mothers build their natural social and community supports. The evaluation will compare intervention and comparison groups on child and parent outcomes.

Young Mothers, Infant Neglect, and Discontinuities in Intergenerational Cycles of Maltreatment is a doctoral student project that will research neglect by:

  • Exploring risk and protective factors among young mothers with infants
  • Highlighting pathways of resilience by focusing on intergenerational processes that lead to discontinuity in cycles of maltreatment
  • Exploring how complex maternal histories with their own parents influence young mothers' parenting
  • Examining certain protective factors (i.e., positive childhood care, older maternal age, social support) that may intercede in cycles of maltreatment

Effects of Maternal Parenting Quality on the Development of Social Competence for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence is a doctoral student project that will use data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being to examine:

  • Whether early exposure to domestic violence affects the development of social competence trajectories
  • Any differences between prolonged versus intermittent exposure on social competence trajectories
  • Whether the quality of maternal parenting moderates the relationship between exposure to domestic violence and children's social competence trajectories

Visit the QIC-EC website to follow the progress of these projects over the next few years and to find other resources for preventing maltreatment of young children and strengthening their families.