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Safe Start Initiative: Demonstration Project, Process Evaluation Report I (2004), Report # 2005 - 2

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2005
20 pages
This special report - presented as part of the process evaluation of the 11 demonstration sites of the Safe Start initiative - addresses one of the challenges identified in the process evaluation, i.e., the challenge of engaging and retaining families (particularly low-income families) for participation in non-mandated mental health and family services that can address the Safe Start priority of serving children exposed to violence.
Although programs and evaluations on how to improve the engagement and retention of families in services is in the eary stages, useful principles have emerged. Thoughtful planning that responds to the perspectives of the target population; cultural competency; relationship building; and relationship leveraging that uses familiar, informal social networks are key to engaging and retaining families. Providing practical support in familiar places enables many families to benefit from services and programs designed to strengthen and build upon their ability to protect their children from harm. Understanding that low-income and racial minority families may be particularly likely to stigmatize mental health services, mistrust mainstream service providers, and experience cultural incompetence in service design and delivery is an important consideration for those in the early stage of designing and planning initiatives like Safe Start, which targets violent interactions that affect children. This study reviewed studies of strategies used to increase attendance at initial appointments and treatment retention for children and families seeking mental health services; studies of effective recruitment and retention for parenting programs; and studies that examine social support networks in different cultures. Relevant websites were also examined for suggested strategies. 18 references and an index of engagement and retention strategies

Date Published: September 1, 2005