Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work

Document Type



Child abuse and neglect is a complex, multi-faceted problem that often has lifelong, negative consequences for its victims; most significantly affecting infants, toddlers and pre-school age children. Parenting classes are the most common intervention used by child welfare agencies as a means to prevent repeat maltreatment, yet there is very little research involving these targeted families. Prior research has primarily focused on the prevalence of and risk factors for child maltreatment, with much less attention on specific parenting program outcomes as implemented in a child welfare setting. In 2005, focusing on a more deliberate and systematic approach in the use of parent education as an intervention, Louisiana’s child welfare agency implemented the Nurturing Parenting Program (NPP, Bavolek, 2005) for parents of infants, toddlers, and pre-school children. An initial evaluation was conducted in partnership with Casey Family Programs in 2008, and this study builds on those early findings by examining the impact of child attendance with their parent at the classes, parenting and childrearing attitudes of caregivers, and safety factors identified prior to a referral for parenting, on post-intervention maltreatment. The results indicated that the extent of child participation did not predict post-intervention maltreatment. Individually, no constructs on the Adult and Adolescent Parenting Inventory-2 (AAPI-2) which measures parenting and child rearing attitudes predicted a greater likelihood of post-maltreatment for participants scoring in the high-risk range; however, the presence of an elevated score on any AAPI-2 construct at pre-test did. Only one of fourteen safety factors, substance abuse, identified during the child protection investigation prior to program participation strongly predicted post-participation maltreatment. Several limitations are discussed such as the use of administrative data for research purposes, and the use of subjective decisions such as the validity finding of child abuse and neglect allegations. In addition, implications for child welfare practice are highlighted, including the significant association between substance abuse and child maltreatment, regardless of a parent’s participation in parenting classes. This reinforces the idea that parenting classes cannot continue to be used as a catch-all intervention or one that is sufficient to address other personal or environmental problems.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Page, Timothy



Included in

Social Work Commons