Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Daniel Whitaker

Second Advisor

Shannon Self-Brown

Third Advisor

Erin Weeks


Background: Child maltreatment is an urgent public health issue with high individual, societal, and economic costs. Parenting programs are typically offered to parents at risk for, or with substantiated maltreatment, and they can be effective in improving parenting skills, and reducing child maltreatment risk. However, programs are only as effective as possible when parents engage, participate and complete these services. Generally, program completion is low and dropout is high in parenting programs. There are a variety of factors that affect completion for both voluntary and coerced populations including factors related to the program, the provider, and the individual client. This thesis will examine factors of parents referred to the SafeCare Training Program for association with program completion among parents referred for cases of maltreatment.

Methods: Data were taken from a randomized trial of SafeCare conducted in four states by nine agencies. Participants were parents who were referred by child welfare agencies to receive SafeCare, and agreed to participate in the research study. Parents completed a baseline assessment that included a range of questions on about parenting skills, parent-child relationship, parenting stress, parenting mental health/wellbeing, resource needs, and standard demographics information. These measures were grouped into demographics, parenting skills, risk factors, and environmental risk factors. Completion of SafeCare was tracked by the number of sessions completed, and based on the distribution, SafeCare completion was trichotomized into no sessions, between 1-9 sessions completed, and 10 or more sessions completed. Chi-square analyses and analysis of variance were conducted to examine the relationship between each predictor and program completion.

Results: The sole measure found to be associated with number of sessions completed was tobacco use within the last 12 months. All other demographic, parenting, or risk factor measures were unrelated to number of sessions completed. A second set of bivariate were conducted focusing only on participants who completed at least one SafeCare session. In this analysis, parent age was the sole measure associated with session completion.

Conclusion: Although there were no significant associations between individual-level factors and number of sessions completed, the importance of this study remains because it adds to the body of knowledge examining factors that affect parent services for coerced populations specifically. Future research could examine program factors and provider characteristics as possible predictors of parent engagement, attrition, and program completion in non-voluntary populations.

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