Newswise — The Annie E. Casey Foundation has awarded the School of Public Health at Georgia State University a $604,000 grant to improve parental engagement as a factor in home visitation programs that work with families at risk of child abuse and neglect.

The three-year grant, awarded to the School’s Center for Healthy Development, allows the creation of a Home Visiting Parent Engagement Collaborative Working Group of researchers and providers. The working group will “create a conceptual framework that stimulates research questions about parental engagement across selected evidence-based home visiting programs,” particularly those designed to help families at high risk for child maltreatment.

The working group will fund up to four pilot projects to seek solutions that could benefit a wide range of home visitation programs, such as Nurse Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers and others. Core issues for research include engaging parents and retaining them in such programs.

Dr. John Lutzker, director of The Center for Healthy Development and lead investigator on the grant, said the project will help develop data that will benefit a variety of programs that send professionals or trained peers into homes.

“Families can’t benefit from programs they don’t receive,” Lutzker said. “This grant will allow evidence-based child maltreatment programs to have more reach and retention of families. It also furthers the Center for Healthy Devlopment’s mission to advance the science of good implementation and to take leadership in collaboration among these programs to best serve families.

The Center has a history of researching, implementing and assessing home visitation programs. The Center developed SafeCare™, a program that has been shown to reduce child maltreatment among families with a history of or risk factors for maltreatment. SafeCare™ has been implemented in more than 17 U.S. states and in six countries outside the U.S.

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