CASA of Arizona

Childhood Neglect - pg. 16

Prevention



Home Health Visitation

Early intervention with parents identified as high risk for neglect, using lay or professional home health visitation, has proven to be an effective prevention strategy. High-risk parents may be identified by reason of their poverty, mental retardation, drug abuse, or lack of social support; by their own history of being maltreated; by observing parent-infant interactions for indicators of poor bonding; or by use of standard risk assessment instruments. Identifying high-risk factors that reliably predict neglect is still an elementary inexact science requiring further research, but clearly the parental groups listed above are at higher risk than the general population.

Parent Skills Training

Parent education programs that are structured and designed to focus on specific parenting skills have been successful in improving the adequacy of childcare provided by high-risk parents. In selecting a parent education program, the professional must always consider the program's cultural/ethnic appropriateness for the target family or group. Parent education programs and materials must be developed and written in language that is understandable by parents with limited education and literacy levels. Parent education programs offered through neighborhood schools, public health agencies, mental health centers, churches, and other organizations may be especially attuned to cultural factors affecting parents in the immediate community.

Strengthening Social Network Supports

Parents benefit from strong supportive networks of neighbors, friends, and relatives, and from involvement with churches and other supportive organizations. Efforts to strengthen social network supports have proven to be an effective intervention with high-risk and neglectful families. Assessment of stress level and supports using standard instruments or informal questioning can help to identify parents in need of such intervention. Improving supports and reducing negative external influences can enable parents, under high stress from poverty and other life events, to cope more effectively with the demands of parenting.

Tertiary Prevention

Tertiary prevention entails targeting services to neglecting parents and their children to remedy the neglect and its consequences on the children, and prevent its recurrence.

Intervention targeted to children shows success in alleviating the damaging consequences of child neglect. By being helped to achieve improved functioning during childhood, the neglected child is more likely to succeed as a parent in adulthood.

Another possible tertiary prevention outcome of direct intervention with neglected children revolves around the parents. The efforts of parents to improve their parenting abilities may be bolstered by evidence of improvement in their children. Progress in the child's development, better performance in school, and/or more manageable child behaviors at home help neglectful parents to feel encouraged and hopeful about the future.


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