Resource | Report

Evaluating Prevention Services in Child Welfare: Evaluation Approaches, Challenges, and Solutions

Project: Technical Assistance on Evaluation for Discretionary Grant Programs

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The 2018 passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act marked a turning point for child welfare by better aligning the U.S. Government’s support of child maltreatment prevention with its reimbursement policies for state and tribal agencies delivering services.

In keeping with this major legislation, the Children’s Bureau developed policies and resources to catalyze local initiatives that address the root causes of maltreatment. Rigorous research is needed, however, to document the effectiveness of such initiatives. This report summarizes findings from 20 recent studies of child maltreatment prevention programs, organizing information around the following questions:

  1. What types of child maltreatment prevention programs have been studied?
  2. What were the research methods used?
  3. What were the methodological challenges encountered?
  4. What are potential strategies for addressing these challenges?

The report describes common types of child maltreatment prevention services, relevant conceptual frameworks, and challenges and strategies for evaluating services. The studies focused on primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention.