Child Welfare Involved Caregiver Perceptions of Family Support in Child Mental Health Treatment


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

The purpose of this study is to describe caregiver perceptions of a co-led model for children with behavioral problems among families with complex needs (i.e. child welfare involvement), and to explore whether there are any additive benefits associated with utilizing peers as part of a team service delivery model. The current undertaking derives from a larger effectiveness study that examined the impact of a Multiple Family Group (MFG) service delivery model for children with disruptive behavior disorders and their families–also known as the 4Rs and 2Ss Family Strengthening Program (Chacko et al., in press; Gopalan et al., in press; Gopalan et al., 2014; Gopalan, Fuss, & Wisdom, in press; Gopalan & Franco, 2009; McKay et al., 2011; Small, Jackson, Gopalan, & McKay, in press). Within this model, interdisciplinary peer-clinician teams provided treatment to low-income, inner-city families, which included a substantial proportion of families reporting child welfare involvement. Briefly, the MFG model integrates therapeutic principles from family therapy, behavioral parent training, and group therapy. Weekly group sessions involve six to eight families (including caregivers, identified child with behavioral difficulties, and siblings) over the course of four months. Additionally, MFG addresses barriers to treatment and promotes positive service experiences for youth and their families. The larger study, which began in October, 2006 and concluded in October, 2010, enrolled 320 children (n= 225 Experimental MFG group; n= 95 Services as Usual group) between seven and 11 years of age who met criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder and their families. See Chacko et al. (in press) and McKay et al. (2011) for a more thorough description of the MFG service delivery model and the study from which the current project derives. To date, MFG has been shown effective in reducing child behavioral difficulties and improving youth social skills when compared to services as usual (Chacko et al., in press; Gopalan et al., in press). This model may be beneficial for child welfare involved families as an innovative mental health intervention focused on engaging and retaining low-income, urban minority families, reducing childhood behavioral difficulties, and addressing inner-city service capacity limitations. Consequently, before MFG can be tested exclusively with child welfare involved families, understanding how child welfare involved caregivers respond to the intervention will identify where modifications, if any, may be necessary.

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