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The first behavior that will be evaluated is child maltreatment severity. The broad accessibility through multiple routes including self referral provided by Enable's First Steps for Families & Children in Attleboro provides one prototype for delivering comprehensive, integrated, and individualized services required by families with complex and diverse needs and problems (Katz & Pinkerton, 2003). The child maltreatment model will be applied to chronic family situations, involving child neglect or abuse, which do not involve crisis. Enable's First Steps for Families & Children delivers this program in a period of 4 to 12 weeks and the caseloads vary between 2 to 6 families per worker. Katz & Pinkerton (2003) indicated that families were child maltreatment is occasional are typically seen between 6 and 10 hours per week, the services aim to protect the child, strengthen and preserve the family. Through access to the program certain at risk families or children will voluntarily enter the Enable's First Steps for Families & Children family preservation and reunification program while other families will need to be encouraged (Fraser, Pecora & Haapala, 1991).
The second behavior to be evaluated is physical abuse, parental failure to provide, and lack of supervision in families. Supportive interventions for child abuse prevention programs are provided by Enable's First Steps for Families & Children in Attleboro. This is particularly provided in short duration, with a less tightly specified parenting curriculum, which targets families who have already been referred to child protective services (Katz & Pinkerton, 2003). Supportive interventions provided by this program enables improvement in child, parent and family functioning, placements that are planned or desirable, and numbers of placements in less restrictive settings for shorter periods of time (Fraser, Pecora & Haapala, 1991). Enable's First Steps for Families & Children provides supportive interventions because no single family prevention effort can adequately address the various causal factors of maltreatment or provide effective inroads to all families at risk of different forms of maltreatment. Fraser, Pecora & Haapala (1991) thus says that some families will respond to educational efforts, while others will be more responsive to material support.
Evaluation design will entail sampling, measurement and data collection strategies that will be used to assess the Enable's First Steps for Families & Children. The design will be use utilization focused evaluation which is highly personal and situational. The evaluation team will develop a working relationship with Enable's First Steps for Families & Children. Pecora (1995) noted that the design is based on the definition of the problem and relative maturity of Enable's First Steps for Families & Children. Utilization focused evaluation will make use of the personal factor which will direct the evaluators to attend to specific children and families who understand, value, and care about evaluation and therefore direct the evaluators to attend to their interests.
Qualitative component of the design will seek to establish if or not there are multiple behaviors that are individualistic and subjective in program. Berry (1997) says that qualitative designs will be flexible and will help us to determine family adaptability cohesion scales, the risk involved in preservation and reunification programs and also carry out family assessment and relations after successful reunification. According to Berry (1997) qualitative design will establish how programs develop, how intensive Enable's First Steps for Families & Children program service workers perceive their jobs or even how families experience treatment. On the other hand the quantitative design component captures essential information such as child behaviour, family relations test and home observation for measurement of environment. The quantitative design of Enable's First Steps for Families & Children will measure behavior and attitudes of children or families after and before the programs are conducted. Mixed methods design will be used for both quantitative and qualitative data to provide a better more thorough understanding of the evaluation being carried out.
Behaviorally, Pecora (1995) noted that specific case planning to achieve more permanent plans for children in family foster care were required. The evaluation sample plan will entail experimental and comparison group cases will be used effectively by Enable's First Steps for Families & Children program. The sample will include maltreated children, parents facing separation, neighbors and case records. Families will be eligible for service if one or more of their children were at risk of imminent placement. Confidentiality will be assured in order to enhance participation and retain individuals and families taking part in the evaluation (Pecora, 1995). Another main consideration in experimental and comparison group cases will be children in placement whose referral source believed that the children could be reunified with their family through Enable's First Steps for Families & Children program.
Data Collection Tools and Plans
Experimental group cases organized by the evaluation team will be used to collect qualitative data. Berry (1997) says that experimental group cases will be assessed through some means such as interviewing, observing and recording. These procedures can be used in a variety of creative ways with a multitude of program stakeholders. On the other hand the means of acquiring quantitative data were different from the means for qualitative data. The quantitative studies for Enable's First Steps for Families & Children program will entail experimental and quasi-experimental designs used in the current family perseveration studies.
Comparison group cases data will come from documents within child welfare case files written by social workers or from the juvenile court case happenings. Douglas (2010) says that Enable’s First Families & Children program will collect this information based on family problems, and client characteristics such as ethnicity, age, and custodial status. A team of two or four research people in the state will extract data from these files via a data collection form. Douglas (2010) says that Inter-Rater reliability for the data collection effort will be estimated at .88. Mallon & Hess (2005) says that Enable's First Steps for Families & Children program can use Professional Review Action Group (PRAG) model to track and access the quality of data collected and use it as a conceptual framework to organize and focus the data collection and promote reliability in the retrieval of reunification practice elements.
Data tracking and measurement of baseline will be done using Professional Review Action Group (PRAG) model. According to Mallon & Hess (2005) the PRAG model will assist the team to track the data and accurately identify and assess with the family the problem and needs that require placement to protect child. It will also engage family members in appropriate services that specifically target problems and needs. The data collected through the PRAG model will help the Enable's First Steps for Families & Children to prepare all family members for the transition process of the child return home, including the development of a specific plan for the child’s protection (Mallon & Hess, 2005).
Data Processing and Analysis
The data collected will be analyzed using SPSS statistical software version 16. Using this software a categorical indicating whether the child reunified, will be formally adopted, or left Enable's First Steps for Families & Children for other reasons will be used in conjunction with a time-in Enable’s First Steps variable to estimate the outcome (Douglas, 2010). Douglas (2010) also says that child ethnicity should be coded as African American, white, Latino or other. Child age will be measured as a dichotomous variable coded 1 if the child was an infant under the age of one year, and 0 if the child was between the ages of 1 – 3 years.
It will be determined which percentage of experimental group cases were closed compared to that of comparison group cases. Studies indicate that a greater number of experimental group children were returned to their birth families (Pecora, 1995). It will also be established that which percentage of the treat group children either returned home or were adopted compared with the percentage of the comparison group children, when special efforts will be made to provide service to birth families.
Behaviors such as maltreatment severity variables evaluated by Enable's First Steps for Families & Children program experimental groups will be used to measure the severity of different types of maltreatment suffered by the child: physical abuse, parental failure to provide, and lack of supervision. Item scores were five point Likert-like items estimating the type of severity of maltreatment based upon the social worker’s description of the incident prompting the child’s entry into Enable's First Steps for Families & Children program. Douglas (2010) advises that “reliability estimates for these measures should be: for physical abuse (.90), failure to provide (.83), and lack of supervision (.90)” (p. 87). Also these measures will be used rather than the legal reason for entry to care, as that measure will not address maltreatment severity and will reflect the actual experience of the child.
This evaluation will take place in a period of twelve weeks. The first four weeks will involve identifying participants and planning. Planning will help us to set the timelines. From week four to week eight we will carry out data collection through administration of interviews and by conducting the questionnaires. Data processing and analysis will be conducted from the ninth to eleventh week and it will involve processing and analyzing the data collected. The final phase will be to report our findings and recommendations to Enable's First Steps for Families & Children program in the twelfth week (see Appendix A for a graphical timeline)