Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. J.R. Lutzker

Second Advisor

Dr. Sandra Twardosz


Child maltreatment is a serious and pervasive public health problem in the United States. In 2008, there were 772,000 children who were substantiated victims of maltreatment and 1,740 children died as a result of maltreatment. Approximately 33 percent of maltreatment victims were under the age of four. Among numerous other negative sequelae, children who have been maltreated have an elevated incidence of language delay and poor cognitive functioning, both strong predictors of literacy skills and later academic achievement. Further, maternal language input is critical to a child’s cognitive development and language acquisition. Maltreating mothers provide their children with far less verbal stimulation and are less likely to engage their children in learning opportunities. Home visiting programs are effective means of preventing child maltreatment or further maltreatment by parents and may be better utilized to improve language of children. SafeCare® represents one such program. It is an evidence-based program for the treatment and prevention of child maltreatment, consisting of four modules: Parent- Infant Interaction (PII), Parent-Child Interaction (PCI), Health and Safety. The purpose of the proposed research is to determine whether PII or a language-enhanced version of the module is effective in increasing the number of maternal utterances with her infant and the frequency of incidental teaching. The enhanced PII segment was created, not only to be an effective tool for promoting language, but also to be succinct enough to imbed into the extant protocols so as not to add a cumbersome burden to SafeCare home visitors or parents participating in the program.


Included in

Public Health Commons