School of Medicine, partners will work to prevent mistreatment of children

By Staff

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) awarded nearly $1.4 million to a partnership of Colorado organizations to test a promising approach to preventing maltreatment of infants and young children whose families face numerous stressors.

The local project – named The Strong Start Study: Strengthening Young Families Affected by Substance Use – will focus on pregnant women in substance abuse treatment and their babies. The study, through JFK Partners of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, will connect early with these women to help create systems of support with their families, friends and community through a High Fidelity Wraparound intervention. The goal will be increasing protective factors known to reduce maltreatment within the families to promote optimal child development.

"The awarding of the Strong Start Study for research on prevention of child maltreatment is a great opportunity to contribute to the needed knowledge in this area, especially given the heightened risk of developmental concerns for infants who have experienced prenatal exposure to alcohol and other drugs," said Corry Robinson, director of JFK Partners, University of Colorado School of Medicine, which is the lead organization for the project. "This project is an excellent fit with the overall mission of JFK Partners in strengthening families and promoting good health outcomes for children."

The school's department of psychiatry will conduct the evaluation. Other local partners include the Early Intervention Colorado of the Division of Developmental Disabilities and Women's Treatment for Substance Use Disorders of the Division of Behavioral Health, both within the Colorado Department of Human Services.

This grant is one of four projects selected by CSSP to implement new models and evaluate their effectiveness. This research is part of the National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood, a five-year project launched in late 2008 to develop and disseminate new knowledge about programs and strategies that prevent child maltreatment and optimal development of infants and children younger than five. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau awarded $10 million to CSSP to develop the center with its partners ZERO to THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families; and the National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds.