A Family Intervention to
Prevent Child Maltreatment

Funding period: September 1, 2008–August 31, 2011
Principal Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth Stormshak
Co-Investigators: Dr. Thomas Dishion, Dr. Kate Kavanagh
Funded by: Centers for Disease Control

This research is testing the implementation effectiveness of the Family Check-Up (FCU), an ecologically based and empirically validated family-centered intervention designed to reduce problem behavior and coercive family interactions, and prevent child maltreatment. A particular aim of this study is to increase the potential for therapists to focus on family management skills known to increase successful child adjustment and to decrease the coercive family processes associated with child maltreatment.

The FCU is built upon the social interaction learning theory (SIL) in which effective parenting skills are delineated as managing contingencies within the social environment to promote healthy child development. It promotes healthy child development by enhancing effective parenting and reducing parenting strategies associated with violence and aggression. The Child and Family Center has refined the model by integrating findings from its developmental research and redesigning the model for community-based implementation.

This research is a collaborative effort with four major mental health providers in a metropolitan community. It aims to improve the effectiveness of services for families at risk for child maltreatment by using an adapted version of the FCU model. The goal is to recruit 120 families with youth ages 10–15 to be randomly assigned to receive either our FCU model of intervention or treatment as usual through the community mental health centers.

Specific aims of the program are:

For more information: Dr Beth Stormshak, bstorm@uoregon.edu, 541-346-4805


2010: To address setbacks caused by extensive staff turnover at the participating community mental health agencies, several new therapists were recruited and trained. During the year, 63 families were recruited for the study, and DVD recordings were completed of 288 therapy sessions, 177 sets of treatment progress reports for families, and therapist session reports.

2009: First-year activities included recruitment, training, and refinement of the research protocol. The CFC family assessment, including questionnaires and video observation, was adapted to better fit within the constraints of community mental health practices, while still providing empirically supported data. Sixteen therapists from the participating agencies were recruited and randomly assigned to either the intervention or control condition, and they participated in four days of training in the CFC intervention model.