Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



This study considers several previously unexamined issues that affect the delivery and outcomes of intensive, in-home services for families of abused and neglected children. In this report, we present new, empirical data on parents' and other primary caretakers' readiness for change, their alliances (working relationships) with in-home services caseworkers, and the nature and extent of their substance use. we look at these issues--and at caretakers' tendencies to give socially desirable responses--in relation to change over time in caretaker and family functioning, housing and economic conditions, social support, child well-being, the recurrence of child maltreatment, and out-of-home placement.

Conducted as a supplement to a large evaluation of in-home services in child welfare (the Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Services), our study includes 353 families who were referred for intensive family preservation services in Philadelphia county between March 1997 and June 1999. All of these families were the subject of at least one substantiated report of child abuse or neglect prior to referral. For purposes of the Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Services (EFPRS), the families were randomly assigned to intensive, in-home family preservation services (FPS) or less intensive Services to Children in their Own Homes (SCOH). Longitudinal data were gathered by Westat, Inc. via interviews with primary caretakers and FPS/SCOH caseworkers, self-administered surveys of caseworkers and intake workers, and administrative databases. Interviews with caretakers were conducted at three points in time: within a few weeks of random assignment (Time 1), at approximately four months (Time 2), and at one year after random assignment (Time 3). Most of the primary caretakers in the study are African-American (81%) women (95%) who were unmarried (90%) and unemployed (83%). At the time of referral, their average age was 32 (the range is 19 to 78) and they had 3.4 children on average. More than half (53%) of the caretakers were the only adult in their household. Approximately 70% were receiving TANF at referral; hence, most had annual household incomes under $l0,000. At least 20% had difficulty buying food for their families and paying rent. Nearly 40% reported difficulty paying electric and heating bills and buying clothes for their children.

FPS and SCOH caseworkers were predominately women (70%) and two-thirds were African-American. Almost half had some graduate-level education. On average, the caseworkers had 9 years of social work experience and 6 years of experience in child welfare.

Unanticipated delays in the assignment of FPS and SCOH caseworkers to cases in the study affected service delivery and data collection. We encountered more problems than expected with missing data, particularly from caseworkers and on alliances.