Outcomes from a Randomized Controlled Trial of the Relief Nursery Program
An independent, randomized controlled trial of the community-developed, multiple-component Relief Nursery prevention program was conducted with families with young children considered “at risk” for child abuse and neglect. This established program, currently operating at multiple sites in the state of Oregon, comprises an integrated package of prevention services to children and families, including early childhood education, home visiting, and parent education and support, as well as other interventions tailored to the needs of each particular family. Families who contacted the Relief Nursery for the first time were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, the Full Program condition, whose members had access to all services available from the Relief Nursery, or the Respite Care condition, whose members had access only to respite care and referrals to services provided by other community agencies. A primary caregiver in each family was interviewed prior to intervention and then every 6 months across a period of 2 years. Standardized measures were collected on a variety of risk and protective factors related to child abuse and neglect. Analyses were conducted at the end of the study period. Differences were found between the conditions in terms of perceived helpfulness and satisfaction with services and in terms of social support, in each case favoring the Full Program condition. Implications of the findings for future studies of multicomponent child abuse prevention programs with similar characteristics to the Relief Nursery are discussed.