Multiple Family Groups to reduce child disruptive behavior difficulties: Moderating effects of child welfare status on child outcomes

Geetha Gopalan, Latoya Small, Ashley Fuss, Melissa Bowman, Jerrold Jackson, Sue Marcus, Anil Chacko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Children who remain at home with their permanent caregivers following a child welfare (CW) involvement (e.g., investigation, out-of-home placement) manifest high rates of behavioral difficulties, which is a risk factor for further maltreatment and out-of-home placement if not treated effectively. A recently tested Multiple Family Group (MFG) service delivery model to treat youth Disruptive Behavior Disorders (DBDs) has demonstrated effectiveness in improving child behavior difficulties among hard-to-engage, socioeconomically disadvantaged families by addressing parenting skills, parent-child relationships, family communication and organization, social support, and stress. This exploratory study examines whether child behavioral outcomes for MFG differ for families with self-reported lifetime involvement in CW services compared to other families, as families with CW involvement struggle with additional stressors that can diminish treatment success. Youth (aged 7-11) and their families were assigned to MFG or services as usual (SAU) using a block comparison design. Caregivers reported on child behavior, social skills, and functional impairment. Mixed effects regression modeled multilevel outcomes across 4 assessment points (i.e., baseline, mid-test, post-test, 6-month follow-up). Among CW-involved families, MFG participants reported significantly reduced child oppositional defiant disorder symptoms at 6-month follow-up compared with SAU participants. No other differences were found in the effect of MFG treatment between CW and non-CW involved families. Findings suggest that MFG may be as effective in reducing child behavior difficulties for both CW and non-CW involved families. As a short-term, engaging, and efficient intervention, MFG may be a particularly salient service offering for families involved in the CW system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume46
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Keywords

  • Child welfare
  • Evidence based treatment
  • Mental health services
  • Moderation analyses
  • Multiple Family Groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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