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Relationships Between Stressors and Parenting Attitudes in a Child Welfare Parenting Program


Families involved with child welfare services often experience a range of stressors in addition to maltreatment, including intimate partner violence, substance abuse, and mental health problems. Children in these families are at risk for developing a myriad of problems. Although parenting education programs are among the most routine interventions for families involved with child welfare services, there is relatively little data available about these programs for families with multiple stressors. This study sought to explore the family stressors in parents involved in the child welfare system who have been referred to an intensive therapeutic parenting program, and the relationship of those stressors to change in parenting attitudes. Quantitative abstraction of parenting program files was conducted. Analyses included descriptive and bivariate statistics, and related samples t tests to examine change in parenting attitudes. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a sub-sample of this population. File abstraction revealed that parents in this population experiencing multiple co-occurring stressors ranged from 23 to 39%. Significant improvements in parenting attitudes were found for most groups of participants, including those with violence, mental health, and substance abuse problems. Qualitative interviews indicated that parents felt that they were learning from the parenting program and were supported by the facilitators. Parents facing multiple stressors are unlikely to be able to parent effectively, and may need significant support and intervention. Additional understanding of the types of issues they face and whether particular interventions are effective for those groups would allow for the development of more targeted interventions.

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Correspondence to Lianne Fuino Estefan.

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Estefan, L.F., Coulter, M.L., VandeWeerd, C.L. et al. Relationships Between Stressors and Parenting Attitudes in a Child Welfare Parenting Program. J Child Fam Stud 22, 199–208 (2013).

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  • Child maltreatment
  • Parenting program
  • Parenting attitudes
  • Child welfare
  • Mixed methods