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04-07-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 9/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 9/2020

Does the SafeCare Parenting Program Impact Caregiver Mental Health?

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 9/2020
Elisa Romano, Elena Gallitto, Kelly Firth, Daniel Whitaker
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Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


There is some research suggesting that parenting programs have the ability to impact not only parenting behaviors but also caregiver well-being. The current study examined whether the SafeCare® program for families involved in child welfare because of neglect-related concerns had an impact on caregiver mental health, specifically anxious/depressed symptoms and aggressive behavior. We examined these outcomes in a Canadian sample of 76 parents who completed a self-report questionnaire prior to beginning the SafeCare program and then at post-program and 3 months following program completion. Multi-level growth curve modeling results indicated statistically significant improvements in caregiver anxious/depressed symptoms following program completion. The findings were more nuanced, however, from the perspective of clinical significance. There were few caregivers (3.9%) whose improvements in anxious/depressed symptoms crossed the threshold from clinical to normative levels, primarily because most (84.4%) had scores that fell within normative levels pre-SafeCare. However, among those parents who showed a “real” change in score from pre- to post-SafeCare, the majority (70%) were in the direction of improvements. Although findings suggested that SafeCare completion might contribute to improved caregiver mental well-being in the form of anxious/depressed symptoms, our study was limited by the lack of a comparison group and small sample size. The findings point to the importance of examining intervention effects in a comprehensive manner that considers change from the perspective of both statistical and clinical significance.

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