Participation of homeless and abused women in a parent training program: Science and practice converge in a battered women's shelter

Abigail Gewirtz, Tamara Taylor

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    21 Scopus citations


    Increasingly, research is focusing on the transportation and implementation of evidence-based psychosocial prevention programs into community care settings (Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, and Wallace, 2005; Gewirtz and August, 2008). Questions for study include program adaptation for cultural and contextual relevance; recruitment and retention/engagement of participants, and the predictors of successful uptake in community social service settings. Within community settings, shelter and transitional/supportive housing sites serve among the highest risk families, whose stressors include significant rates of exposure to violence, substance abuse, mental illness, and child maltreatment. These stressors, coupled with extreme poverty and mobility, present barriers to children's and parents' access to mental health treatment and prevention resources. The availability of social services in most shelter and housing settings provides an opportunity to deliver evidence-based preventive interventions to highly stressed families. Developing strategies to transport evidence-based prevention interventions to these settings thus has significant potential to improve outcomes among vulnerable families. This paper presents data from the adaptation process of a group-based Oregon parent management training intervention: Parenting Through Change (Forgatch and DeGarmo, 1999). This preventive intervention was originally developed for predominantly white single mothers in the process of recent marital disruption. The program was adapted and implemented for culturally diverse groups of homeless single mothers with children who have been exposed to domestic violence. The curriculum was adapted using a community-based participatory approach. The adaptation group consisted of service providers representing community-based (predominantly shelter and housing) agencies, and university researchers. This article reviews the adaptation process, conducted in close collaboration with the program developer, the training of housing and shelter staff as group facilitators, and the implementation of the program in a shelter in a large metropolitan area. Group participation data indicated that program staff was extremely successful in recruiting and retaining women, with a 90% retention rate over the 14 weeks of the program and high participant satisfaction ratings. Participant characteristics, engagement, and satisfaction data are reported, together with data from a post intervention focus group highlighting perceived support and empowerment as key reasons for the high levels of group participation. Although often dismissed as places that can only provide "three hots and a cot", shelters may present key opportunities for the provision of empowerment-focused evidence-based prevention programs.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationCommunity Participation and Empowerment
    EditorsMildred F. Hindsworth, Trevor B. Lang
    Place of PublicationHauppage, NY
    PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9781617281914
    ISBN (Print)9781606921890
    StatePublished - 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'Participation of homeless and abused women in a parent training program: Science and practice converge in a battered women's shelter'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this