FRC and The Brown School of Social Work Collaborate on Research into Evidence Based Practice

February 15, 2011

News and Stories

Paul Lanier, a Ph.D. candidate in the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, has presented some preliminary findings on his research into the effectiveness of Evidence Based Practices (EBP) in improving clinical outcomes for two of Family Resource Center’s programs:  Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Parenting Wisely. More than 500 parents participated in the research. Dawn Swinger, Family Treatment Manager, and Dr. Joan Benz, FRC’s Family Treatment Coordinator, helped orchestrate the three year study, in which standardized measures of change were used at the beginning, midpoint, and end of treatment.

Mr. Lanier’s research mentor at Washington University, Dr. Brett Drake, describes the collaborative effort with FRC as a “rare bird” and a critical link in the effort to take practices developed in a university setting and bring them to real life. His hope is that it will help to infuse Evidence Based Practice into the child welfare system in Missouri.

Family Resource Center has been a pioneer in the use of EBP, and CEO Greg Echele’s goal is to transform the agency from one that is clinically well-respected and experience-based to one where the majority of its services are grounded in and strengthened by EBPs. This should mean that FRC client parents and children will achieve the best possible clinical outcomes.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy was developed for families with young children experiencing behavioral and emotional problems. It utilizes a team approach to teach parents very specific skills for increasing their child’s pro-social behavior and decreasing negative behavior. Parents who completed PCIT showed statistically and clinically significant improvements in reduced parenting stress, improved mental health and overall parental functioning, as well as in their child’s behavior problems. These improvements were found to be consistent, regardless of race, age, family income or referral sources. PCIT was equally effective whether provided in the family home or in the FRC office.

Parenting Wisely consists of a series of group or individual sessions designed to help parents better understand child development and acquire a range of new skills in order to become stronger, more nurturing and effective parents. Parents who completed Parenting Wisely showed an improvement of 25% in post-treatment vs. pre-treatment test scores. Parent satisfaction surveys highlighted improved communication with children as well as decreased use of physical discipline.

Mr. Lanier’s next step will be to link information on this research to Missouri’s child welfare data to determine whether the evidence based practices used by FRC had an impact, not only on strengthening parent knowledge, skills and satisfaction, but on preventing child maltreatment over time. He hopes to complete his research in summer 2011.