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National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches: Assessing Program Outcomes

NCJ Number
Date Published
83 pages

This report presents the findings and methodology of the national evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches (SSPA), which is the second phase of a planned four-phase initiative that is focusing on preventing and reducing the adverse impacts on children of their exposure to violence.


This report addresses the outcomes evaluation of SSPA. Other evaluation reports feature a process evaluation and an evaluation of program training efforts. The outcome evaluation showed the diversity of the interventions across the 15 SSPA sites evaluated. Across the sites, major impediments to the planned evaluations were the inability of the interventions to recruit sufficient numbers of families for participation and difficulty retaining the families for the follow-up assessment. Consequently, none of the evaluations had adequate statistical power to determine whether the programs had an impact on participating children and their families. In some cases, the samples were too few to complete exploratory analyses of changes within or between groups over time. Analyses of outcomes in sites with marginally adequate statistical power to detect an intervention effect did not reveal any strong patterns of change in the outcomes in the intervention group compared to controls. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed. Within several sites, however, promising improvements were noted within the intervention groups over time. These improvements include reductions in children's symptoms, improvement in resilience factors, and improvements in the parent-child relationship. In many cases, similar changes occurred in the control or comparison group, suggesting that some outcomes may improve over time with interventions already existing in the community. A rigorous, controlled evaluation design was developed at each site, either with a randomized control group (wait list or alternative intervention) or a comparison group selected based on similar characteristics. 12 tables, 6 figures, and 97 references

Date Published: January 1, 2010