This paper discusses the authors’ investigation of the impact of home visiting on child maltreatment; for their research, they examined the effects of a scaled-up, statewide home-visiting program which used a novel approach linking data from the home-visiting program to that from the state’s CPS agency; the authors compared Child Protective Services data, reports, substantiations, and out-of-home placements in home-visited families who were sociodemographically similar to families who did not receive home-visiting services.
Although home visiting has been used in many populations in prevention efforts, the impact of scaled-up home-visiting programs on abuse and neglect remains unclear. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of voluntary participation in an established statewide home-visiting program for socially high-risk families on child maltreatment as identified by Child Protective Services (CPS). The authors used propensity score matching to compare socially high-risk families with a child born between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, who participated in Connecticut’s home-visiting program for first-time mothers and a comparison cohort of families who were eligible for the home-visiting program but did not participate. The main outcomes were child maltreatment investigations, substantiations, and out-of-home placements by CPS between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2013. In the unmatched sample, families who participated in home-visiting had significantly higher median risk scores. After matching families on measured confounders, the percentages of families with CPS investigations were similar between the two groups. However, there was a 22 percent decreased likelihood of CPS substantiations for families receiving home visiting. First substantiations also occurred later in the child’s life among home-visited families. There was a trend toward decreased out-of-home placement. These results from a scaled-up statewide program highlight the potential of home visiting as an important approach to preventing child abuse and neglect. Publisher Abstract Provided