Federation Research Bulletin: April 2019

This month’s research bulletin includes articles and reports about trauma-informed care, childhood well-being, autism evaluations, family supports, childhood maltreatment, borderline personality disorder, and intimate partner violence.

  1. The impact of a statewide trauma-informed care initiative in child welfare on the well-being of children and youth with complex trauma
  2. Decision factors for community providers when referring very young children for autism evaluations
  3. Impact of supports and partnership on family quality of life
  4. Childhood Maltreatment, Borderline Personality Features, and Coping as Predictors of Intimate Partner Violence
  5. The Links between Pets and Intimate Partner Violence

For more information, additional research, and/or if you have feedback about how we can make this member service more useful, please contact The Federation’s Research and Policy Coordinator, Pam Alcorn at pam@fcssbc.ca.

1. The impact of a statewide trauma-informed care initiative in child welfare on the well-being of children and youth with complex trauma (USA, 2018)

This article is the evaluation of a statewide project investigating the effectiveness of trauma-informed treatment models in the Massachusetts child welfare system. While results differed slightly depending on the specific treatment model, overall, trauma-informed approaches were associated with significant improvements in a range of areas but especially in terms of child behaviour problems and PTSD symptoms.

Positive findings across multiple outcome factors suggest that trauma-informed treatment is very much an effective means of improving the developmental trajectories of children in the child welfare system. However, each model displayed specific strengths and weaknesses that should be taken into account when selecting a treatment model for select populations and individuals.

These findings add to a growing body of literature that strongly suggests the need for (1) more trauma-focused policies and practices, (2) trauma-focused screening upon entry into the child welfare system, and (3) more funding to support trauma-informed child welfare and mental health services.

2. Decision factors for community providers when referring very young children for autism evaluations (USA, 2018)

Practitioners know that early intervention can vastly improve outcomes when it comes to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, treatment access depends heavily on early identification. This research paper explores how and why community practitioners should understand and address the early signs of ASD.

Despite the reliability of most autism diagnoses by the 24-month mark, the majority of children with autism do not receive comprehensive evaluations until they are 36 months or older. According to the researchers, even when clinicians and educators know what early signs of autism are, they may not fully consider the importance of specific behaviours (or the absence of typical behaviours) and social interactions that warrant a referral for an autism assessment. As a result, they may miss some opportunities to make referrals in a timely manner.

The report suggests that autism training across early childhood professional disciplines should emphasize the importance of identifying less obvious early signs(such as the significant absences of behaviours, such as low joint attention, gestures, and social reciprocity) in addition to better recognized social, verbal, and play behaviours.

3. Impact of supports and partnership on family quality of life (Spain, 2019)

In recent decades, “quality of life” has emerged as a decisive construct in terms of efforts to improve the living conditions of families of people with disabilities. It is also becoming a popular rubric for assessing the services and supports that people receive. This research paper explored the perception of the families regarding their support needs, the quality of their partnerships with service professionals, and their quality of life.

One key finding was that, often, families of young children may be more satisfied with the professionals working with their child because they are not yet familiar with what they should expect. This idea is supported by research suggesting that parent satisfaction with service professionals declines as their children get older. The researchers also identified the extent to which early childhood intervention centers and/or family-professional partnerships inform the families’ quality of life.

Overall, access to information remains the clearest need of these families. Speech and/or language services and specialized health services were the support most requested by the families for their children. Across all demographics, the researchers emphasized the need for practitioners to inform the families about their child’s actual situation and the different supports that are or are not available.

4. Childhood Maltreatment, Borderline Personality Features, and Coping as Predictors of Intimate Partner Violence (UK/Canada, 2018)

Intimate partner violence is a serious mental and physical health concern worldwide. Although previous research suggests that childhood maltreatment increases the risk for intimate partner violence, the underlying psychological mechanisms of this relationship are not yet fully entirely understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of childhood maltreatment severity on intimate partner violence perpetration and victimization, and its indirect effect through borderline personality features and maladaptive coping.

Researchers found that (1) a history of emotional and physical maltreatment in childhood increases the likelihood of perpetrating and re-experiencing violence in adult relationships and (2) strong associations between all forms of childhood maltreatment and borderline personality features.

According to the findings, survivors of childhood maltreatment (especially those with separation concerns and an unstable self-image) may learn to believe that violence is a normal part of close relationships and thus respond with helplessness when confronted with violence in adult intimate relationships. As such, childhood maltreatment may not only increase the risk of developing borderline personality disorder but also pave the way for a pattern of revictimization and perpetration.

In the conclusion of this article, the authors suggest a series of targeted training, education, and therapeutic strategies and approaches.

5. The Links between Pets and Intimate Partner Violence (Canada, 2018)

This literature review looks at the value of animal companions on personal well-being, the relationship between violence against pets and intimate partner violence, and the impact pets have on attempts to leave violent situations.

The key finding in this report is the fact that women with animal companions in their lives will often remain in or return to the person who is abusive because there are few options to keep their pets safe. Shelters are often unable to accommodate pets and re-homing and temporary care options also have limitations (and are just as limited in number).

To address this issue, the authors suggest ideas for how shelters, veterinarians, and community organizations can work toward identifying these situations and options to address the complicated relationship between pets and intimate partner violence.