Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Children and Youth Services Review 108 (2020) 104602

DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104602


Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Early Head Start (EHS) is an evidence-based intervention program for at-risk children birth through three that seeks to improve child and family well-being. There is little research to date examining the prevalence of child maltreatment among families enrolled in EHS and the extent to which maltreatment is associated with receipt of programs and services available to EHS families. This study sought to (a) identify the prevalence of court substantiated maltreatment in EHS families; and (b) determine the association between substantiated maltreatment and use of EHS program and community-linked services. To answer these questions, archival program and clinical service records and juvenile court records on 743 EHS families were extracted and analyzed. Negative binomial and logistic regression models examined the relationship between court-substantiated maltreatment and use of program and community-linked services. Overall, 14.9% of enrolled families had a court substantiated case of maltreatment. Presence of a maltreatment record was differentially associated with use of program services, including overall number of home visits (β=−0.16, p=0.014, 95% CI [−0.28,−0.03]) and receipt of Child Abuse Prevention Services (OR = 7.21, 95% CI [3.21, 16.21]), Domestic Violence Assistance (OR = 5.88, 95% CI [2.55, 13.53]), and English as a Second Language (OR = 0.26, 95% CI [0.11, 0.63]. Children and families served by EHS experience maltreatment at higher rates than the general population. There is a need to develop strategies to explicitly target families who experience child maltreatment. Implications for serving and engaging high-risk families in EHS are discussed.