Grant Recipient: Regents of the University of Michigan
Term: 2023 – 2028
Principal Investigators: Brian Jacob, Ph.D., University of Michigan
Joseph Ryan, Ph.D., University of Michigan
Summary: This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of SafeCare, an in-home, parent-training program for families with substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect at risk of having their child(ren) removed from the home. The program teaches caregivers skills in three areas: (i) interacting in a positive manner with their children and responding appropriately to challenging child behaviors; (ii) recognizing hazards in the home to improve child safety; and (iii) recognizing and responding to symptoms of illness and injury with the goal of reducing child maltreatment. SafeCare is delivered in weekly sessions over approximately 18 weeks.
In an effort to reduce child maltreatment and subsequent foster care placement, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is currently piloting SafeCare and has committed over $6 million to implement the program over the next three years. While SafeCare has not yet been evaluated in a well-conducted RCT, there is suggestive evidence to warrant further evaluation, particularly in light of the State of Michigan’s investment in the program.
Under this project, researchers from the Youth Policy Lab at the University of Michigan will conduct a well-powered RCT across the 19 counties implementing SafeCare in Michigan. The sample will comprise of families with at least one child under 6 years of age who has allegedly experienced child neglect and is at risk of being removed from the home. Researchers will randomly assign roughly 3,000 families to the SafeCare group, with the remaining eligible families serving as the control group that will receive usual services. The RCT will measure the effect of SafeCare on: (i) maltreatment allegations perpetrated by any adults in the household, and (ii) children’s removal from home and placement in foster care, through two years after random assignment. Outcomes will be assessed using child welfare administrative data from MDHHS.
The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.