SafeCare: evidence from a home-based parenting programme for neglect Evaluation of what works to promote better parenting and protect young children

Woman with a baby and toddlerSafeCare works with parents of children under 6 who are at risk of experiencing significant harm through neglect. It’s delivered at home over 18-20 sessions and helps parents develop skills in the key areas of: interaction with their child, child health, and safety at home. SafeCare is a preventative programme from the USA which we’ve tested for the first time in the UK.

Our 2 reports summarise quantitative and qualitative findings and consider evidence from the different perspectives of referral agencies and parents. A third report on interviews with practitioners will be published soon.

Both reports are part of our Impact and evidence series.

Author: Gill Churchill
Published: 2015

SafeCare improved parenting skills for the majority of families who took part in the evaluation. Of the families where neglect was a concern, two-thirds (66%) improved to a point where they were considered protected from neglect.

  • 80% of parents completing the health module showed improvement in child health care skills.
  • 97% of parents who completed the home safety module reduced the number of hazards in their homes.
  • 98% of parents who completed the parent-child interaction module demonstrated improved communication skills with their child.

SafeCare was valued by referrers.

  • 91% of referrers said they would refer similar families to SafeCare in the future.
  • Some referrers would have liked more feedback about progress so they could more effectively co-ordinate the provision of services for the family.

When parents leave a programme before the end, it is often linked with negative outcomes. But a range of positive outcomes were noted for families who left the SafeCare programme before completing it

The average length of involvement for families who finished SafeCare was 42 weeks; more than twice the length initially anticpated. Future studies should consider the reasons for this and the implications for families and the organisations running the programme.

The evaluation didn’t include a comparison group so it’s not possible to attribute changes directly to the SafeCare programme. However, the findings support the existing evidence that SafeCare can be an effective way of promoting positive parenting knowledge and behaviours and reducing child neglect.

Parents' views

Parents said SafeCare helped them develop their parenting knowledge, skills and behaviour. They felt that:

  • establishing a trusting relationship with the practitioner and a partnership approach was vital in helping them engage with the programme
  • receiving the programme at home provided a safe place to practise their parenting skills
  • receiving positive and constructive feedback helped to build confidence in their parenting abilities.
Impact and Evidence series 2
Acknowledgments 5
Key findings: young people's version 6
Key findings 7
Executive summary 10
Chapyer 1: Introduction 17
Chapter 2: Outcomes for Parents 30
Chapter 3: Survey of Referrers 48
Chapter 4: SafeCare Programme Attrition 57
Chapter 5: Conclusion 66
Bibliography 69
Appendices 72

"I saw my health visitor the other day and she said 'would you advise it to any other families?', and I said 'yeah, totally'. It’s definitely life changing if you stick to it and if you listen it will definitely change your kids' life and your own."

Please cite as: Churchill, G. (2015) SafeCare: evidence from a home based parenting programme for neglect. London: NSPCC.

Please cite additional report as: Churchill, G. (2015) SafeCare – parents’ perspectives on a home-based parenting programme for neglect. London: NSPCC.

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