Family Support and Connection Groups: Long-Term Benefits for Inner-City Children?

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Relatively few prevention trials have had long-term follow-up to determine if immediate impact translates to and explains long-term impact. The present report summarizes the long-term influence (measured when students are near the end of high school) of the SAFEChildren preventive intervention, which was applied during first grade. This program aims to facilitate and support developmental management, school-family connection, and social support among neigbhors through family groups and student tutoring and is focused on familes raising children in inner-city neighborhoods. Of the 424 families randomly assigned prior to first grade to intervention or no-intervention control, outcome data on at least one outcome was obtained for 375 (88.4%). Results indicate no long-term direct effects and a single mediated effect, with those in the intervention less likely to engage in risky sexual practices. Similar but non-significant trends were found for alcohol use and violence. These mixed results may suggest that family focused intervention that is relatively brief is not adequate to protect against multiple and ongoing developmental risk that arises in such communities. The limited impact is discussed in light of the uncertainty of subsequent condition on initial preventive benefits and the developmental ecology of the inner city. Implications for preventive intervention programming and for long-term evaluation are also addressed.

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Correspondence to Patrick Tolan.

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Tolan, P., Schoeny, M., Gorman-Smith, D. et al. Family Support and Connection Groups: Long-Term Benefits for Inner-City Children?. Prev Sci 21, 109–119 (2020) doi:10.1007/s11121-019-01051-z

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  • Family intervention
  • Long term impact
  • Inner-city population