Grant Recipient: MDRC
Term: 2018 –2027
Principal Investigators: Virginia Knox, Ph.D., MDRC
Meghan McCormick, Ph.D., MDRC
Summary:This is a multi-site randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of Child First, a home visiting program for low-income families with young children at high risk of emotional, behavioral, or developmental problems and/or child maltreatment.
A prior well-conducted RCT of Child First with a sample of 157 families found a 33% reduction in families’ involvement with child protective services (CPS) for possible child maltreatment at the 3‑year follow-up; and 40 – 70% reductions in mothers’ psychological distress and child conduct and language development problems at the 1‑year follow-up (our review and summary of the study is postedon the Social Programs That Work website). The key limitation in this evidence is that the initial RCT, although well-conducted, was carried out in a single site (Bridgeport, Connecticut) with a modest-sized sample. This study seeks to determine whether the sizeable impacts found in the initial RCT can be reproduced with a larger sample across multiple sites in two different states.
MDRC will recruit approximately 12 Child First sites in Connecticut and North Carolina and then randomly assign 600 eligible families to receive the Child First program or be assigned to a usual-care control group. The study’s primary outcomes will be: (i) families’ CPS involvement at the 1- and 3‑year follow-ups measured with state administrative records; and (ii) parental psychological functioning measured with a parent survey at the 1‑year follow-up.
The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.