Saturday, May 02, 2009

Perspective: On Creating a Foundation for Seeing What Works

In 2007, students at the University of Maryland School of Social Work engaged in an interesting project:

Students in the School’s Child Welfare Research class have each conducted reviews of evidence about interventions that may increase child safety for children.

These reports range in focus from primary prevention programs (like education to prevent incidents of shaken baby to interventions that might address the consequences of child maltreatment and prevent the recurrence of child maltreatment, to interventions that focus on helping adolescents in foster care prevent future maltreatment of their children).

They post[ed] a brief version of their reports by replying to this post. I hope you join in the discussion about what “might” work to decrease the risk of child abuse and neglect and increase safety for children. [Link to the blog post]

The blog provides an interesting overview of prevention programs. While it appears to remain one of the more popular posts on the UMB, it doesn't seem that the online community took up the challenge to discuss prevention programs that work.

It's also unfortunate that this work remains a snapshot taken at one point in time. I visited the Acropolis in 1972: the perspective of viewing the world from a place that has been part of human experience for thousands of years and at least a hundred generations was profound.

So, this is the comment I left:

It would be a real service if this overview could be provided each year: so many survey articles capture a moment in time, without providing any sense of development over time.

For example, the SBS prevention program mentioned above has expanded to several other states. Ohio and Hawaii are conducting evaluations of its effectiveness in preventing SBS incidents, and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation has just published a guide to implementing the program at new sites.

It would be really helpful if an academic program would look at the results of those evaluations (which are likely to vary themselves in effectiveness) and elict lessons learned in implementing the program in different contexts.

It would also give the students a unique perspective on prevention, based on a common foundation, and a sense of the challenges in implementing evidence based practices.

The literature is full of palliative interventions that are responsive to the consequences of the child welfare system. They are resource intense and focused on prevention of recurrences.

Let’s encourage prevention efforts that work to build strengths and to actually prevent those consequences.

No comments: