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Home-Based Parent Child Therapy for Young Traumatized Children Living In Poverty: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Abstract

A randomized control trial was used to evaluate the effectiveness of a home-based, parent-and-child therapy program specifically developed for toddlers and preschoolers living in poverty with trauma symptoms. Sixty-four children 5-years of age and younger were referred to a community-based clinic for behavior problems and emotional difficulties. All children had experienced one or more potentially traumatic events and met the DSM-5’s criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children Six Years of Age and Younger. All families received government assistance indicating that their income met the federal definition for poverty. Participants were randomly assigned to either immediate treatment or wait list control groups. Significant between-group differences on all post-treatment measures were found. After the waitlist group completed treatment, significant improvements for both groups were found on all measures at six-weeks follow-up. Outcomes included reductions in challenging behaviors and emotional symptoms of trauma, improved caregiver-child relationships, and increased caregiver adherence to treatment strategies. This study offers support for early intervention of children with trauma symptoms and identifies the clinical challenges and advantages of providing therapy services in a home setting for very young children in poverty.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported in part by grants from Charles D. Jacobus Family Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Helen Bader Foundation, Hearst Foundation, Roger and Cindy Schaus Family, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Grant SM063056), United Way and the Zilber Family Foundation.

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Correspondence to Robert A. Fox.

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Love, J.R., Fox, R.A. Home-Based Parent Child Therapy for Young Traumatized Children Living In Poverty: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journ Child Adol Trauma 12, 73–83 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-017-0170-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-017-0170-z

Keywords

  • Home-based trauma treatment
  • Young children
  • Poverty