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Conflicting results in evaluation research studies thus may reflect these program differences (such as the intensity or scope of services or the training of service personnel) or variations in the personal histories or types of problems experienced by the clients served.
This chapter reviews social service interventions and the available evaluations of them, using the selection criteria discussed in Chapter 1, first for child maltreatment, then for domestic violence, and finally for elder abuse.
Six social service interventions for child maltreatment are reviewed in the sections that follow: (1) parenting practices and family support services, (2) school-based sexual abuse prevention, (3) child protective services investigation and casework, (4) intensive family preservation services, (5) child placement services, and (6) individualized service programs.
The sections are keyed to the appendix tables that appear at the end of the chapter.
All three approaches share underlying assumptions that individual characteristics of the child or parent are insufficient to explain the nature and emergence of child maltreatment; each group of models uses a different set of assumptions to examine the interactive processes, perceptions, stresses, and social supports in the family environment.
Theorists have considered specific factors that appear to play a significant role in the different models: social isolation (De Panfilis, 1996; Kennedy, 1991; Ammerman, 1989), stress (Fanshel et al., 1992; Kennedy, 1991), mental health disorders (Mc Cord, 1983), lack of knowledge about child development and rearing (Wolfe, 1987), contributing child behavior (including the lack of knowledge of self-protective behaviors) (Fanshel et al., 1992), and social and individual characteristics such as poverty and substance abuse.
Nevertheless, the specific interventions discussed in this chapter have been identified by the field, and the evaluation literature has evolved from these services as they are identified.
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Such activities include parent support groups, parent education, home visiting, mental health, and other concrete social support and therapeutic services.
Programs targeting children include skill-building around resistance to maltreatment, conflict management skills, and therapeutic interventions.
All of these interventions are designed to address the social support and safety needs of individuals and families, but they often have different focal points in meeting the needs of their clients.
Their goals include the protection of children and vulnerable adults; the enhancement of parents' ability to support and care for their children; the preservation of families; and the development of resources and networks to enhance family functioning, the safety of women, and the care of children and the elderly.