Enhancing Early Engagement (E3) in Mental Health Services Training for Children's Advocacy Center's Victim Advocates

Feasibility Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

Published in: Pilot and Feasibility Studies, Volume 7, Article Number 212 (2021). doi: 10.1186/s40814-021-00949-2

Posted on RAND.org on January 07, 2022

by Erin Audrey Taylor, Alex R. Dopp, Kaitlin Lounsbury, Yutian Thompson, Michelle Miller, Ashley Jorgensen, Jane Frances Silovsky

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Background

Child maltreatment is a major public issue in the United States, yet most children affected by abuse or neglect never engage in evidence-based practices (EBP) for child mental health. Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs') are uniquely situated to serve as Family Navigators who connect children impacted by maltreatment to appropriate EBPs. In fact, the CAC position of Victim Advocate mirrors the Mental Health Family Navigator national initiative.

Methods

The feasibility study protocol is to develop, implement, and evaluate web-based and consultative training for Victim Advocates to enhance early engagement in services (E3 training). The interactive web-based training embeds key targets of knowledge and skills related to family engagement, trauma, and EBP services. Participating CACs were randomized to E3 webinar-based training, E3 webinar plus consultation, or delayed training. The project will test the E3 training's impact on key mechanisms of change (e.g., knowledge, skills) to improve rates of screening, referral, and access to EBP services. The feasibility of implementing the training program and differential impact and costs by level of training will be examined.

Discussion

The overarching goal of this project is to test the feasibility of training that is readily implemented through CACs and examine the mechanisms for improving early engagement and, ultimately, child, and adolescent mental health outcomes. Results and cost findings will be used to plan a large-scale comprehensive, mixed-methods hybrid type II effectiveness-implementation and cost-effectiveness trial of family navigator E3 training. If outcomes are positive, considerable infrastructure exists to support the scale-up and sustainability of E3 training nationwide, by embedding the training in national CAC training protocols.

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