Connell, A., Bullock, B. M., Dishion, T. J., Shaw, D., Wilson, M., & Gardner, F. (2008). Family intervention effects on co-occurring early childhood behavioral and emotional problems: A latent transition analysis approach. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36(8), 1211-1225.

Citation Year
Used in Implementation Reports
Study Participants

The study included 731 families who participated in the Women,Infants and Children (WIC) program when their son or daughter was approximately 2 years old, and met the study’s criteria for being at risk for behavior problems—defined as one standard deviation or more above normative averages in at least two of three screening domains: (1) socioeconomic status; (2) family problems (e.g., maternal depression, substance abuse, teen parent status); and (3) child behavior problems (e.g., conduct problems, high-conflict relationships with adults). Screening was conducted in 2002 and 2003. Most children in the sample were European American (50%); the remaining participants were African American (28%), biracial (13%), or other races (9%), including Asian American, Native American, and Native Hawaiian. When asked about ethnicity, 13.4% reported being Hispanic American. More than two-thirds of the sample had an income below $20,000. Forty-one percent of the sample had a high school diploma or GED, and an additional 32% had one to two years of post-high school training.


Families were recruited from WIC program sites in and around Pittsburgh, PA (37% of sample); Eugene, OR (37% of sample); and Charlottesville, VA (26% of sample). Note the percentage of the sample in Charlottesville differs slightly from other studies using the same sample.

Home Visiting Services

Family Check-Up typically involves three meetings (initial contact, assessment session, and feedback session). For the purposes of this study, the assessment was completed before random assignment, and thus the program group received the assessment (conducted by research staff), an interview session, a feedback session, and possible follow-ups. A trained parent consultant conducted the subsequent interview and feedback sessions. During the interview, the consultant explored parents’ concerns; in the feedback session, the consultant provided the results of the assessment and explored parents’ willingness to change in problem areas, reinforced parenting strengths, and identified services appropriate for the family. After the feedback session, families possibly also received up to six follow-up sessions focusing on parenting practices, family management issues, and contextual issues (such as child care resources and housing). Of the families assigned to the intervention, 78% participated in the interview and feedback sessions with the parent consultant, when the child was 2 years old and 65 percent participated when the child was 3 years old.

Comparison Conditions

Families in the comparison condition did not receive visits or intervention from parent consultants, but did receive an assessment session, conducted by research staff. Although this session typically is part of the Family Check-Up program, for the purposes of this study, the assessment was conducted before randomization.

Staff Characteristics and Training

Parent consultants for this study had either a master’s or doctorate degree and had previous experience in carrying out family-based interventions. Consultants were trained for two-and-a-half to three months in strategies that included didactic instruction and role-playing, as well as ongoing videotaped supervision of intervention activity. Consultants were certified by lead parent consultants at each site; the lead parent consultants were certified by a member of the research team. Certification was repeated annually and was established by reviewing videotapes of feedback and follow-up sessions. Weekly conference calls were held to discuss cases, and annual consultant meetings were held to update training, discuss possible changes in the intervention, and address issues reflected by families’ needs.

Author Affiliation

Thomas Dishion, a study author, is a developer of this model.

Funding Sources

Funder(s) not listed.

Citation short
Connell, A., Bullock, B. M., Dishion, T. J., Shaw, D., Wilson, M., & Gardner, F. (2008)
Confounding Factors
Baseline Equivalence
Unknown, but relevant variables used as controls.
Not applicable
Screening Decision
Passes screens
Design Detail
Randomized controlled trial