The Evidence Portal

Preventing child maltreatment: Evidence review

The impact of child maltreatment can be profound. It can affect all domains of child development – physical, psychological, emotional, behavioural and social. It also has enduring impacts that can lead to poorer outcomes later in life (e.g. in educational attainment, health and employment).

The Department of Communities and Justice and the Centre for Evidence and Implementation conducted an evidence review on parenting programs that seek to prevent child maltreatment. 

The evidence review adopted a core components approach to identify what effective programs have in common.  The evidence review identified five core components to prevent child maltreatment:

  • Engagement
  • Case Management
  • Parental education, coaching and modelling
  • Parental self-care and personal development
  • Building supportive relationships and social networks

These core components are recommended as the standard program components for child and family services working with families at risk of child abuse and neglect.

The evidence review identified 30 evidence-informed programs. Preventing child maltreatment and improved parenting are the two most common outcomes these programs contribute to. Additional outcomes the programs contribute to include: child health (reduced hospitalisations and improved medical care), improved family functioning, improved use of support services by parents, improved parent relationships and social support, improved parental mental health and reduction in parent substance use. 

The programs vary greatly in setting, mode and length.

See the Evidence to Action Note, Preventing Child Maltreatment: What works? (PDF, 439.1 KB), for more information about the evidence review. 

For more details about how the evidence review was conducted (e.g. search strings, databases searched) see the Preventing Child Maltreatment Evidence Review Protocol (PDF, 783.7 KB).

Last updated:

20 Feb 2023

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