Program Goals/Target Population
Project Support addresses the issues that family violence causes for children of abused mothers and children who have been maltreated. Since these children are at a high risk for conduct problems, the objective of the program is to reduce conduct problems in these children, reduce harsh parenting, and improve the mother’s relationship with her children. The program also aims to provide support for battered mothers during their transition away from an abusive partner.
The program is targeted at families (mothers and children) who have sought refuge at a domestic violence shelter. To receive services through the program, at least one child between the ages of 4 and 9 must exhibit clinical levels of conduct problems, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the mother must be trying to establish a household separate from the violent partner.
The intervention comprises two main components: 1) providing emotional support to the mother and 2) teaching her child management and nurturing strategies to reduce misconduct in her child. The program addresses the first component by helping mothers obtain physical resources and social support to help them become self-sufficient, and by offering training in decision making and problem solving. The second component involves teaching the mother positive ways to respond to behavior problems, communication skills, and ways to facilitate a positive relationship with her child.
Therapists visit the families in their home weekly to provide hour-long sessions, for 6 to 8 months after departure from the domestic violence shelter. A trained student mentor interacts with the child while the mother is in therapy. The program is tailored to meet each family’s individual needs.
Therapists provide therapy to mothers and their children; mentors work with children while the mother meets individually with the therapist; and trained research staff assist with program implementation.