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April 2012Vol. 13, No. 3Working Strategies Focuses on Preventing Maltreatment

The winter 2011-2012 issues of Working Strategies, a California-based online magazine for child welfare and related professionals, provides several articles focused on child abuse prevention and strengthening families and communities. The magazine is produced by Strategies, a network of training centers funded by the California Department of Social Services' Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) to promote a statewide network of family strengthening organizations.

In "Feedback From the Field: Child Abuse Prevention and Early Intervention Across California," an article by Annette Marcus, Barbara Alderson, and Doug Green, the authors present findings from a 2011 evaluation of California's child abuse prevention and early intervention field. The assessment findings, commissioned by OCAP and coordinated by Strategies, are intended to assist counties in integrating prevention plans into the State's Outcomes and Accountability System (O&A). California developed the O&A system after the 2011 passage of the State's Child Welfare System Improvement and Accountability Act. O&A went into effect in 2004 and is intended to enhance the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews.

Several issue areas were assessed, such as implementation of emerging frameworks, collaboration, evaluation, technical assistance, and program and planning development. The assessment was conducted utilizing several data collection methods:

  • A survey of 378 public and private prevention partners
  • A series of 37 focus groups in 19 counties involving 140 administrators and 123 frontline workers
  • A survey of key words from the System Improvement Plans from the 19 counties involved in the focus groups 
  • Interviews with 20 leaders and policymakers at the State and county levels

Findings showed, among other things, that counties are using the Differential Response, Pathways to the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and Strengthening Families frameworks in varying ways. The Differential Response and Strengthening Families frameworks seemed to be more widely used, and funding issues were reported as a barrier to full implementation. The article includes a number of recommendations for improving each of the evaluated issue areas.

A study of the Family Development Matrix Outcomes Model/Pathway to the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Project (FDM Pathway), also funded by OCAP, is the focus of another article. FDM Pathway has become an important tool for California's 90 family resource centers (FRCs). A 2010 survey of participating agencies showed that FRCs using the FDM Pathway achieved overwhelmingly positive outcomes for families.

A number of families labeled "at risk" or "in crisis" at the first assessment moved up at least one level by their second assessment (between 3 and 6 months after receiving interventions from the family empowerment plan). More than 80 percent of families moved to "stable" in areas including:

  • Parent emotional well-being
  • Family communication
  • Child health insurance
  • Nutrition
  • Abuse risk

Other articles in this issue of Working Strategies include:

  • "Leadership Development in Changing Times"
  • "Building Strength-Based Families"
  • "Father Involvement – Does it Really Matter?"
  • "Child Neglect: A National Concern"
  • "Postpartum Depression"
  • "Investing in Children Through the Five Protective Factors"
  • "What Child Welfare Realignment Means to Family Strengthening Organizations"

This issue is available on the Strategies website: (3.5 MB)