Children & Families
Westat has extensive experience conducting research on programs and services for children, youth, and families. Our studies have focused on measuring the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children, evaluations of foster care and independent living programs, reviews of child welfare policy, technical assistance to help improve child welfare practice, and studies of programs to improve the overall health and well-being of children, youth, and families. Below are descriptions of selected current and recent Westat studies in these areas.
Studies of Abused, Neglected, Missing, Abducted, and Exploited Children
Westat has conducted several studies examining abused, neglected, abducted, and exploited children and women.
Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4)
The Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4) gathered data on all children investigated by the child protective services agencies in a nationally representative sample of 122 counties, as well as on children identified by nearly 10,800 professional staff in almost 1,100 other community agencies. The children's records were weighted to represent all maltreated children in the nation. Westat also conducted the three previous NIS studies, starting in 1979.
New York Prevalence Study of Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth
Westat conducted the New York Prevalence Study of Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth to identify the number of commercially exploited children in New York and their unique needs. Westat collected data from agencies most likely to come into contact with commercially sexually exploited children. The study involved a purposive sample of 11 New York counties, representing variations in the population aged 18 and under and the rates of juvenile prostitution.
Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2)
The Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2) was designed to measure the numbers of children who are reported missing, victims of abduction by strangers, victims of parental kidnapping, and recovered each year.
Evaluation of Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking International Child Labor Technical Cooperation Program
Westat is conducting an Evaluation of Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking International Child Labor Technical Cooperation Program. The evaluation is assessing the effectiveness of the grant recipients in implementing projects that remove children from exploitive child labor, provide opportunities for education, and raise awareness of the negative impact of exploitive child labor.
Evaluability Assessments (EAs) of International Anti-Trafficking Programming
For the U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP), Westat is performing Evaluability Assessments (EAs) of International Anti-Trafficking Programming. The research questions focus on program design and implementation, target populations, measurement, and goals/outcomes. The methodology includes interviews with key program staff, participants and targeted embassy staff at each of four purposively selected projects; focus groups with direct service providers; and observation of pertinent events and activities. Westat evaluators will also develop technical assistance plans for each project.
Child Welfare Policy and Programs
Westat has been involved in policy reviews and evaluations of programs designed to improve services and outcomes for children in foster care.
Recent Trends in Local Child Protective Services Practices
Westat examined changes in policies and procedures in local child protective services (CPS) agencies between 2002 and 2005-06 for the Recent Trends in Local Child Protective Services Practices. This paper was prepared for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. For the full report, see: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/09/TrendsinCPS/index.shtml (external link) [*]
Needs Assessment of Youth in Congregate Care
Westat conducted a Needs Assessment of Youth in Congregate Care for the New York City Administration for Children's Services to better understand the characteristics and service needs of youth in congregate care and to predict the number and type of congregate care beds and services needed in the next several years.
Process and Outcome Evaluation of the DC Family Treatment Court (DCFTC)
Westat is conducting the Process and Outcome Evaluation of the DC Family Treatment Court (DCFTC). DCFTC is a 1-year program for intensive judicial oversight, residential treatment, temporary housing, and continuing care for women in the District of Columbia who have both open child neglect cases and substance abuse problems.
National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRCCWDT)
Westat is a subcontractor to the Child Welfare League of America to operate the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRCCWDT). The NRCCWDT is one of 10 resource centers funded by the Children's Bureau to help states and tribes improve their child welfare systems. Westat is managing and redesigning the center's web site, providing consultation to states and tribes on data analysis and technology, and conducting the evaluation of the NRCCWDT.
Evaluation of Child Welfare Programs for Individual States
Westat has conducted several evaluations of innovative child welfare programs run by individual states.
Illinois Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Demonstration
The Illinois Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Demonstration was a 5-year longitudinal evaluation that included random assignment of approximately 8,000 children to demonstration and control groups. This study for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services tested the benefits and risks of providing monetary incentives to relative caregivers and foster parents to become private guardians.
Assessment and Evaluation of the Wisconsin Subsidized Guardianship Initiative
Westat also conducted the Assessment and Evaluation of the Wisconsin Subsidized Guardianship Initiative for the Wisconsin Division of Children and Family Services. This randomized study tested the effectiveness of offering a subsidized guardianship option on improving permanence for children in foster care.
Assessment and Evaluation of the Tennessee Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Demonstration Project
As a subcontractor, Westat participated in the Assessment and Evaluation of the Tennessee Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Demonstration Project for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. This evaluation of the state's IV-E waiver study tested the benefits and risks of providing a subsidized guardianship alternative to relatives and kin serving as foster parents.
Westat's evaluation of ProtectOhio, Ohio's Title IV-E Waiver Child Welfare Demonstration, assessed the impact of flexible funding and managed care strategies in 14 demonstration counties. Westat conducted a survey of 1,400 county caseworkers and extensive modeling of child event data using proportional hazard analysis and imputation.
Evaluation of the Arizona Community Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program
Westat assisted in the Evaluation of the Arizona Community Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program, which addressed the needs for substance abuse services for families involved in the child welfare system and participating in the TANF program.
Studies of Programs for Older Youth in Foster Care
Westat evaluations have examined programs to help teens in foster care transition to independence.
Assessment of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Programs
For the Assessment of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Programs Westat helped develop performance indicators and outcome measures for evaluating the effect of independent living services on youth in the areas of education, physical and mental health, employment, housing, and personal support needs. In addition to conducting an extensive consultation process to obtain input on the outcomes measures, Westat developed a prototype web-based data collection system for collecting the outcome information from youth.
Study of Discharge Planning as a Strategy to Prevent Homelessness
In a Study of Discharge Planning as a Strategy to Prevent Homelessness, Westat assessed the evaluability of discharge planning in several institutional settings, including independent living programs for youth in foster care. Westat conducted site visits to programs with exemplary discharge planning practices and developed research design options for each setting.
Older Wards Waiver
Westat conducted the Older Wards Waiver for the Illinois DCFS. This randomized study examined whether permanency rates could be increased by offering independent living services to youth who had been adopted or gone into subsidized guardianship as well as those youth who remained in foster care until age 18.
Studies of County and City Programs to Improve the Health and Functioning of Children and Families
Westat has participated in evaluations of county and city program to improve the lives of children and families.
Study of Services for Children and Families in Palm Beach County
For the Study of Services for Children and Families in Palm Beach County, Westat interviewed mothers of newborns twice a year for 5 years to measure the effect of Palm Beach's County's prevention and early intervention services designed to promote and support the healthy development and school readiness of children from birth to age 5.
Early Start/Welcome Home Evaluation
Westat collected data on new mothers' participation in home visitation programs in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, for the Early Start/Welcome Home Evaluation. Mothers were interviewed shortly after giving birth, 3 months, and 11 months later to examine possible impacts of the program on parenting behaviors.
Impact of New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity's Anti-Poverty Programs
Westat is conducting several evaluations of the impact of New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity's anti-poverty programs on disadvantaged youth:
- For the Evaluation of Teen ACTION, Westat and a subcontractor surveyed high school students from disadvantaged neighborhoods to measure the effects of participation in a service-learning program on youth's academic achievement and their knowledge and attitudes about risky behavior.
- For the Assessment of the Learning Independence for Empowerment (LIFE) Transitions Program, Westat and a subcontractor analyzed survey data and conducted a qualitative study of a service program for youth leaving secure juvenile detention facilities and returning to the community.
- The Young Adult Literacy (YAL) Program seeks to improve the literacy skills, numeracy skills, and job readiness of disconnected youth in New York City. The Evaluation of the YAL Program tested the impact of the addition of a summer internship component to the regular classroom activities of the YAL program sites on students' literacy, numeracy, classroom attendance, and job readiness. Westat collected data from nine sites randomly assigned to the treatment (classroom instruction and internship; five sites) or control condition (classroom instruction only; four sites) using both quantitative program data and qualitative observations during the course of the summer program.
- Westat conducted analyses of program data to study the characteristics of youth who were more and less successful the Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP) as part of the Evaluation of the Young Adult Internship Program: Analyses of Existing Data.
Work on Disproportionate Representation in Foster Care
Race Matters Study Group
Westat was instrumental in forming the Race Matters Study Group to initiate inquiries into the factors responsible for the disproportionate representation of African American children in the CPS system. The group identified various stages in the CPS process where research was needed to determine whether African American children were disproportionately screened into or retained in the system. We identified scholars who would address the various aspects of overrepresentation and then co-hosted a forum to allow child welfare administrators, officials, and other scholars to more fully address the impact of disproportionate representation among African Americans and other racial minorities, particularly Hispanics and Native Americans. More information on Race Matters may be found at: http://www.racemattersconsortium.org/ (external link) [*]
Synthesis on Disproportionality in Child Welfare: An Update
Westat conducted a Synthesis on Disproportionality in Child Welfare: An Update to examine recent patterns involving child maltreatment and disproportionality, the role race plays at various decision-making stages in child welfare, the extent of racially disparate treatment in child welfare, and how other social systems contribute to disproportionality in child welfare. The full paper may be found here: http://www.racemattersconsortium.org/docs/BobHillPaper_FINAL.pdf (external link) [*]