When a child has experienced abuse or neglect, it is important that service providers work with families to increase parental capacity and prevent the recurrence of maltreatment. This can be done by addressing child safety, reducing trauma and other negative impacts of maltreatment, and ensuring supports are in place that will prevent maltreatment from happening in the future. Programs that focus on preventing repeated maltreatment may include intensive family preservation, peer mentoring or parent partners, parent support groups, mental health services, or other interventions for children and families.
Use the following resources to learn strategies for working with families with a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect to increase child safety and prevent repeat maltreatment. Resources include State and local examples.
How Do Parent Partner Programs Instill Hope and Support Prevention and Reunification?
Casey Family Programs (2021)
Reviews parent partner programs, which mentor parents involved with the child welfare system and help them achieve reunification with their families and prevent the recurrence of child maltreatment.
Latent Class Analysis Risk Profiles: An Effective Method to Predict a First Re-Report of Maltreatment?
Kim, Jonson-Reid, Kohl, Chiang, Drake, Brown, McBride, & Guo (2020)
Evaluation and Program Planning, 80
Presents the results of a study that uses a person-centered approach to identify families at low and high risk of recurrence of child maltreatment. Findings showed that using a person-centered assessment may be helpful for child welfare agencies wanting to target resources to the highest-need families and prevent maltreatment recurrence.
Reducing Maltreatment Recurrence Through Home Visitation: A Promising Intervention for Child Welfare Involved Families
Lee, Kirkland, Miranda-Julian, & Greene (2018)
Child Abuse & Neglect, 86
Examines the use of home visiting programs as a type of tertiary prevention in child welfare, which would involve home visiting for families where child maltreatment has already taken place to prevent the recurrence of abuse or neglect.
Repeat Reports Among Cases Reported for Child Neglect: A Scoping Review
Jonson-Reid, Chiang, Kohl, Drake, Brown, Guo, Kim, & McBride (2019)
Child Abuse & Neglect, 92
Presents a review of studies of maltreatment recurrence with a focus on child neglect. The review aims to guide future research, child welfare practice, and policymaking by summarizing findings about the recurrence of neglect.
What Is Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect?
FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention
Reviews the types of prevention activities for child abuse and neglect, including tertiary prevention programs, which target families where maltreatment has already occurred and aim to prevent maltreatment recurrence.
Working Across the Prevention Continuum to Strengthen Families (PDF - 2,104 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States (2021)
Illustrates a three-tiered prevention continuum for child abuse and neglect and defines primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Tertiary prevention strategies target families where maltreatment has occurred with the aim of preventing its recurrence.
Evidence-Based Tribal Child Welfare Prevention Programs in Washington State: A Systematic Review (PDF - 3,651 KB)
Day & Callis (2020)
University of Washington School of Social Work, Indigenous Wellness Research Institute
Reviews four Tribal child abuse and neglect prevention programs that are considered promising practices and includes recommendations for their implementation with families.
How Does SafeCare Support Parents of Young Children?
Casey Family Programs (2021)
Describes the SafeCare home visiting program, which supports parents and helps prevent child maltreatment. Examples from Oklahoma and Arkansas highlight the success of this program.
Offers child abuse and neglect prevention services to families in Colorado, including services aimed at strengthening families already involved with the child welfare system due to cases of child maltreatment to prevent maltreatment recurrence.
Keeping Families Strong and Together: Prevention Strategies in Child Welfare (PDF - 339 KB)
California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership (2020)
Highlights a prevention framework from the California Department of Social Services that addresses child maltreatment prevention within a public health perspective. The framework uses three tiers of prevention, including tertiary prevention, which has the goal of reducing child and family trauma after a case of maltreatment and helping families to build on their strengths.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Reviews child maltreatment prevention approaches in Michigan and describes tertiary prevention, including family preservation and reunification services, that are available to families involved with the child welfare system due to a previous case of child maltreatment.
Q&A With Prevention and Community Support Director Natalie Towns
Blueprint for Family First (2022)
Presents a question-and-answer session with Natalie Towns from the Prevention and Community Support Section of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. She describes Georgia’s continuum of prevention services, which includes tertiary services to prevent child maltreatment recurrence in families where abuse or neglect has already occurred.
Types of Prevention Approaches (PDF - 111 KB)
Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board (2019)
Explains tertiary prevention strategies that can be used to protect children who have already experienced abuse or neglect. This type of prevention seeks to reduce the impact of child maltreatment and to prevent its recurrence.
What Is Prevention?
South Carolina Department of Social Services
Discusses South Carolina’s approach to child maltreatment prevention, which includes tertiary prevention. Tertiary prevention strategies focus on families where maltreatment has already occurred and aim to reduce the negative outcomes and prevent its recurrence.