County Extends Child Abuse Prevention Program

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today approved extending the Prevention Initiative Demonstration Project (PIDP), following recent studies illustrating the success of the program in preventing child abuse and neglect.

The PIDP was the result of a joint motion by Supervisors Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky in February of 2008 to test a broad spectrum of services that would seek to prevent child abuse by working proactively with at-risk families before they would come to the attention of the child welfare system. A critical element of the project was to focus on addressing the broader root causes within communities that weaken families and impede healthy childhood development – such as social isolation, lack of economic opportunities and a little or no access to municipal services.

“Instead of focusing our efforts on providing services after a crisis occurs, this program – the first of its kind in the nation – has shown that moving our resources into prevention can empower and strengthen at–risk families and keep them out of the system,” said Supervisor Knabe. “Through partnerships with community and faith-based organizations, we are able to proactively build a sense of community which helps families address problems before a crisis occurs.”

PIDP is in its second year of a three year demonstration. In that time, 18,000 people have been touched by the program, of which 13 percent were families involved with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or were from communities with the most abuse referrals. Analysis of the program, provided by Casey Family Programs, has found it to be very effective in both keeping at-risk families out of the system and strengthening families already involved with DCFS so they do not return or leave oversight more quickly.

Major findings included:

• Proactively engaging families with ‘unfounded’ or ‘inconclusive’ Emergency Response referrals decreased re-referrals

• Providing the types of services PIDP offers to families in the system shortens the amount of time they are involved with DCFS

• Establishing a sense of community, through family visitation centers at churches, Neighborhood Action Councils and community walk-in centers, were the most successful in strengthening at-risk families