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Study Detail

DuMont, K., Mitchell-Herzfeld, S., Greene, R., Lee, E., Lowenfels, A., Rodriguez, M., et al. (2008). Healthy Families New York (HFNY) randomized trial: Effects on early child abuse and neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32(3), 295–315.

Program(s) Reviewed: Healthy Families America (HFA)®

Additional Sources:

DuMont, K., Mitchell-Herzfeld, S., Greene, R., Lee, E., Lowenfels, A., & Rodriguez, M. (2006). Healthy Families New York (HFNY)  Randomized trial: Impacts on parenting after the first two years. Unpublished manuscript.

Study Screening Details

Screening DecisionScreening Conclusion
Study Passes ScreensEligible for Review

Study Design Details

RatingDesignSampleAttritionBaseline EquivalenceReassignmentConfounding Factors
HighRandomized controlled trialNew York SampleLowEstablished on race/ethnicity, SES, and several baseline measures of prior abuse, neglect, and maltreatment.NoneNone

Study Characteristics

Study Participants

Recruitment for the randomized controlled trial of Healthy Families New York (HFNY) occurred between March 2000 and August 2001. Pregnant women or parents with an infant 3 months of age or younger who were found to be at risk for child abuse or neglect and lived in communities with high rates of teen pregnancy, infant mortality, welfare receipt, and low rates of prenatal care, were referred to HFNY. Consenting families were screened using the Kempe Family Stress Checklist (FSC); 1,297 eligible families who received scores of 25 or higher on the FSC were randomly assigned to the program group (n = 647) or the comparison group (n = 650). 1,173 mothers completed a baseline interview (579 in the program group and 594 in the comparison group). Of those who completed baseline interviews, 45.4% were African American (non-Latina), 18.0% were Latina, and 34.4% were White (non-Latina). On average, the mothers were 22.5 years of age, and 29.2% of the families were receiving welfare. This study reports on the results from the year 1 and year 2 follow-ups of HFNY. At year 1, 1,060 families completed a follow-up interview, and at year 2, 992 families were interviewed. 971 families completed both follow-ups.


Three Healthy Families New York sites were included in the study: Erie, Rensselaer, and Ulster counties. Erie serves primarily African American and Latino families in inner-city neighborhoods in Buffalo. Rensselaer and Ulster counties include urban, suburban, and rural locations; both serve largely White families, but with a substantial African American population in Rensselaer and Latino population in Ulster (Mitchell-Herzfeld, 2005).

Home Visiting Services

Participants in the program group were assigned to an HFNY home visitor. Home visitors were scheduled to visit families biweekly during pregnancy (if they enrolled prior to the birth of the child) and at least weekly immediately following the birth of the child. The frequency of visits was gradually decreased based on family needs, and visits continued until the child turned 5 or began Head Start or kindergarten. Home visitors emphasized activities to improve the parent-child relationship, help parents understand child development and improve child growth, improve access to health care, and improve family functioning through the development and use of a Family Support Plan (Mitchell-Herzfeld, 2005). At year 1, 50% of program group families were still participating in the intervention, and in year 3, one-third of the program group was still participating. Families participating in year 1 received an average of 22 visits during year 1, and those participating in year 2 received an average of 14 visits in year 2.

Comparison Condition

Members of the control group received information about and referrals to other community services, though they were not referred to home visiting services that were similar to HFNY.

Staff Characteristics and Training

New HFNY staff members are required to attend an initial one-week training and to shadow and receive mentorship from experienced home visitors. “Intensive wraparound” training and ongoing training were provided to all staff (Mitchell-Herzfeld, 2005).

Funding Source

US Department of Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau (grant #90CW1105).

Author Affiliation

None of the study authors are developers of this program model.


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