Child abuse prevention programs can be effective in supporting and strengthening families and thus reducing the need for child welfare involvement and intervention. The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) of 2018 calls for a greater emphasis on States providing child maltreatment prevention services that are rooted in promising, supported, or well-supported practices.
A major provision of FFPSA is the establishment of the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This clearinghouse’s role is to conduct an objective and transparent review of research on programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent entry into foster care. The following resources describe a broad array of child maltreatment prevention programs and strategies supported by scientific research. These resources can help agencies and organizations choose and implement evidence-based practices that suit the needs of the families and communities they serve. The resources include State and local examples.
The practices below have been identified by their developers or an outside group as evidence-based. Child Welfare Information Gateway and the Children's Bureau do not endorse individual practices or programs or make any claims about the effectiveness of the approaches described. This information is provided as a resource.
Better Evidence for Decision Makers (PDF - 6,880 KB)
Center for the Study of Social Policy (2016)
Examines flaws with current systems providing access for decision makers, provides information about evidence-based programs, and proposes collaborative and fluid models where programs can adapt to new information and changing circumstances.
Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development
University of Colorado at Boulder, Institute of Behavioral Science
Identifies effective violence prevention programs and provides training and technical assistance to replication sites. The 11 model programs identified have been effective in reducing adolescent violent crime, aggression, delinquency, and substance abuse. Another 18 programs have been identified as promising. The guide includes details about the program review process and selection criteria.
Evidence-based and Promising Interventions for Preventing Child Fatalities and Severe Child Injuries Related to Child Maltreatment (PDF - 1,669 KB)
Casey Family Programs and Upbring
Summarizes practices proven to mitigate the risk of child fatalities resulting from child maltreatment. This resource integrates lessons learned from the child welfare and injury control fields.
Evidence and Innovation
Provides interactive tools and other resources to help youth-serving organizations and community partnerships plan, implement, locate, and participate in effective programs for youth. The website includes information on positive youth development, mentoring, transitioning youth, evidence-based programs, as well as a directory of youth-focused evidence-based practices.
Family Connections: National Program Replication Project
University of Maryland, Baltimore
Describes a community-based neglect prevention program targeting at-risk families with children between the ages of 5 and 11. Family Connections was the only program in the nation designated as "demonstrated effective" in the prevention of child abuse and neglect in the 2003 report, Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
Provides information on the HomVEE program, which assesses home visiting programs throughout the country. The website includes reports on each model studied, implementation profiles for each model, and a searchable database of all findings.
A Mixed Methods Evaluation of Early Childhood Abuse Prevention Within Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs
Matone et al. (2018)
Maternal and Child Health, 22(1)
Presents the results of a study on the impact and context of early childhood home visiting on rates of child abuse-related injury. Conclusions from this study showed that the success of abuse prevention in home visiting depends on the strength of the curriculum, the fidelity of delivery, and whether the program reaches people in caregiving roles.
New Directions: What We’ve Learned about Strategies and Interventions in Child Abuse and Neglect (PDF - 136 KB)
Institute of Medicine and National Research Council
Explains specific prevention strategies rooted in research and a clear theory of change.
Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
Describes programs reviewed and rated by the Clearinghouse for their effectiveness in preventing child abuse and neglect.
Prevention Tools: What Works, What Doesn’t (PDF – 3,380 KB)
Washington State Health Care Authority (2019)
Discusses the importance of evidence-based interventions to prevent child abuse and neglect and offers examples of what types of prevention strategies seem to work and may not work in regards to child abuse and neglect prevention.
Safety Assessment Family Evaluation–Family Connections (SAFE-FC) Program Manual
Washoe County Department of Social Services (2016)
Provides detailed information about the implementation process of the Safety Assessment Family Evaluation—Family Connections program in Washoe County, including background information and lessons learned.
Supporting Evidence Based Home Visiting
FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention
Provides information on 17 grant-funded implementation sites of evidence-based home visiting programs. The website includes information on each site, cross-site evaluation findings, and resources developed through the program and technical assistance providers.
What Are Some Examples of Evidence-Informed Practices to Keep Children Safe and Promote Permanency?
Casey Family Programs (2018)
Compiles evidence-based programs that are subject specific, including primary and secondary child abuse prevention programs.
Bring Up Nebraska
Supports community efforts for child abuse prevention and works to reduce entry into the child welfare system and increase supports for children and families. The organization aims to raise awareness of what is working and what is needed to promote a community-based model of prevention.
Child FIRST (Family Interagency, Resource, Support, and Training)
Provides home visiting for families with young children 5 or under that are at high risk for developmental, emotional, or behavioral problems or maltreatment. Child FIRST connects families with community-based services to reduce family stress levels and provides in-home clinical services to help build parent-child attachment, heal trauma in both the caregiver and child, and prevent additional toxic stress.
Considerations for Scaling Evidence-Based Prevention Programs Under the Family First Prevention Services Act
McKlindon & Sun (2020)
Presents two evidence-based prevention models used successfully in New York City: brief strategic family therapy and child-parent psychotherapy. In addition, the brief discusses four key factors that influence the scale-up of evidence-based practices in child welfare that jurisdictions preparing to implement prevention services under the Family First Prevention Services Act may draw from.
Institute for Family Development
Provides an evidence-based home and community-based program for parents/caregivers of children ages 0–17 that offers intensive family preservation services to help keep families together. The program is designed to engage families by serving them in their home environment and may be useful in neglect cases by helping primary caregivers improve their supervision of children and learn how to access community-based supports.
Hope Center for Children
Works to prevent child abuse and neglect in South Carolina by meeting child and family needs. The organization works to equip parents with the tools they need to teach strong values and life skills to their children.
Interagency Collaborative Team Model for Capacity Building to Scale-Up Evidence-Based Practice
Hurlburt, Aarons, Fettes, Willging, Gunderson, & Chaffin (2014)
Children and Youth Services Review, 39
Explores the Interagency Collaborative Team process model to implement an evidence-based child neglect intervention, SafeCare, in a children's service system in one large county in California.
Prevention and In Home Service Programs
Tennessee Department of Children's Services
Reviews prevention strategies and programs being used in the State of Tennessee to prevent child abuse and neglect. These include community-based child abuse prevention programs such as the Nurturing Parenting Program and Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children program.
A TARGETed© Approach to Working With Traumatized Youth and Families Program Manual
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (2016)
Details the implementation process of the Illinois Trauma Focus Model for Reducing Long-Term Foster Care project in order to assist others in adapting the process for local use. This manual discusses staff and client recruitment strategies as well as data-driven decision-making related to program implementation.
Using Integrated Data Systems to Improve Case Management and Develop Predictive Modeling Tools (PDF - 156 KB)
Anne E. Casey Foundation (2017)
Explains how a county and State are using data and predictive modeling to help case managers identify the most at-risk families for child abuse and neglect and help them improve child welfare and health care outcomes.