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Spotlight On: Protecting Children and Promoting Healthy Families

Protecting Children and Promoting Healthy Families

Reducing infant mortality. Supporting child welfare agencies. Preventing abuse and neglect. Abt’s work helps support the backbone of policies and programs that protect those who are most vulnerable. We develop federal clearinghouses to disseminate best practices nationally. We provide technical assistance to ensure evaluations yield actionable evidence. We put evidence into practice to promote child wellbeing and healthy families.

selected expertise

Selected Expertise

  • Conducting process and outcome evaluations of prevention initiatives.
  • Providing technical assistance to local prevention grantees/programs.
  • Reviewing evidence to identify effective prevention programs and strategies.

selected featured projects

Selected/Featured Projects

Preventing Child Maltreatment
Child abuse and neglect cannot be solved by one system alone. Stronger partnerships with agencies that create awareness, reduce risk and provide an array of services to children and families are vital to promoting well-being at the individual, family and community levels. Abt is leading the Building Capacity To Evaluate Community Collaborations To Strengthen and Preserve Families project. The program will support four communities that received grants from the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) to design services that prevent child abuse and neglect. Abt will provide evaluation technical assistance to grantees and their evaluators. We’ll also document—through a process evaluation—the ways each grantee designs and implements its unique community-level child-safety approach. Both tasks will help build critical evidence to support the development and expansion of community approaches to the prevention of child maltreatment.

Preventing Foster Care Placements
Protecting children and preserving families is paramount to child welfare agencies. The Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse—developed in accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 was established by ACF to systematically review research on programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to children and families while preventing foster care placements. As the Clearinghouse’s lead, Abt rates programs and services as promising, supported or well-supported. These practices include mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services, in-home parent skill-based programs and kinship navigator services.

Reducing Infant Mortality
Decades of research advocacy, policies and programs have focused on maternal health, prenatal care and saving the lives of infants and children. Today, Abt supports efforts to significantly reduce infant mortality through the national Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network on Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Infant mortality--the death of a child within the first year of life--is an indicator of the health of a population’s women, children and families. The IM CoIIN uses near real-time data to support programs that address disparities in infant mortality and related perinatal outcomes through collaboration, program innovation and tailored information technology solutions. The technical assistance provided by Abt helps those programs accelerate the development and discovery of innovations to reduce infant mortality.

Providing Families a Healthy Start
The Federal Healthy Start program aims to improve perinatal outcomes and eliminate racial/ethnic and geographic health disparities. Sponsored by HRSA, Abt is using a rigorous evaluation approach that links state vital records, data from CDC’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and data from individual Healthy Start programs. Through our technical assistance to states and Healthy Start programs, we’re examining possible associations between Healthy Start participant characteristics and selected health and behavioral outcomes. We are also comparing outcomes between Healthy Start participants and a matched sample of women that did not participate in the program. Our findings will help community-based programs apply lessons from this data to promote the health of women, children and families across the United States.

Promoting Child Well-being
Funded by SAMHSA, CDC, the Health Resources and Services Administration and HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) supports the coordination of key child-serving systems and behavioral and physical health services. Abt evaluated state- and community-based grantees and detailed the effectiveness of collaboration and coordination between state, territorial, tribal and locally-based service networks. We gathered information on the initiatives’ effects on the social service systems at those governmental levels, and on the health and well-being of children and families in specific communities. We also provided grantees with technical assistance on the project’s implementation and subsequent reporting, and funded special studies of child outcomes conducted by seven grantees.

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