Early Head Start (EHS) is an evidence-based intervention program for at-risk children birth through three that seeks to improve child and family well-being. There is little research to date examining the prevalence of child maltreatment among families enrolled in EHS and the extent to which maltreatment is associated with receipt of programs and services available to EHS families. This study sought to (a) identify the prevalence of court-substantiated maltreatment in EHS families; and (b) determine the association between substantiated maltreatment and use of EHS program and community-linked services. To answer these questions, archival program and clinical service records and juvenile court records on 743 EHS families were extracted and analyzed. Negative binomial and logistic regression models examined the relationship between court-substantiated maltreatment and use of program and community-linked services. Overall, 14.9% of enrolled families had a court-substantiated case of maltreatment. Presence of a maltreatment record was differentially associated with use of program services, including overall number of home visits (β = −0.16, p = 0.014, 95% CI [−0.28, −0.03]) and receipt of Child Abuse Prevention Services (OR = 7.21, 95% CI [3.21, 16.21]), Domestic Violence Assistance (OR = 5.88, 95% CI [2.55, 13.53]), and English as a Second Language (OR = 0.26, 95% CI [0.11, 0.63]. Children and families served by EHS experience maltreatment at higher rates than the general population. There is a need to develop strategies to explicitly target families who experience child maltreatment. Implications for serving and engaging high-risk families in EHS are discussed.
- Child maltreatment
- Early Head Start (EHS)
- Service use
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science