Crisis nursery outcomes for caregivers served at multiple sites in Illinois

Author(s): Cole, S.A. and Hernandez, P.M. (2008)

Published In: Children and Youth Services Review, 30: 452-465

Study Aim/Purpose: This study used aggregate administrative data from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to assess the effects of crisis nursery services on individual caregiver service recipients.

Summary of Methods: This study used a cross sectional design to analyze the response of caregivers regarding the effect of crisis nursery services on parental stress, potential for abuse, and parenting skills and to identify characteristics of caregivers with the most positive outcomes. For the outcome analyses, State FY 2005 IDHS administrative data linked to crisis nurseries exit interview survey were analyzed for 638 caregivers (55% of total caregivers) served by the crisis nurseries. Independent variables used in the analyses included caregiver and child characteristics and problems that promoted initial use of the crisis nursery services. The dependent variables or parent outcomes analyzed were: 1) decrease in level of stress reported by caregivers from time of entry into crisis nursery care to the time of the exit interview post-crisis nursery care; 2) caregiver perception at exit interview that the program reduces risk of harm to their children; and 3) caregiver perception at exit interview that they “will be able to more effectively parent” their child.

Summary of Key Results: Descriptive analysis found that the three most common reasons for using respite were: employment/educational, self-care for parental stress, and caregiver medical needs. Among the exit survey respondents, stress reduction, potential for abuse and neglect and parenting skills were all positively affected by use of crisis nursery services. Regression analyses found that among exit survey respondents, caregivers who were single parents, had a Caucasian child, had a higher rather than lower income, had a child four years of age and older, and those who sought crisis nursery services due to a home crisis, mental health issues, or family violence were significantly more likely to report greater stress reduction compared to caregivers with other characteristics who sought crisis nursery assistance for other reasons. Consistent decreases in the potential for abuse and neglect and enhancing parenting skills were reported across all groups, thus “no statistical relationships were identified between caregiver or child attributes and these outcomes.”

Study Limitations (as cited by authors): One limitation noted by the authors was the differences in the socioeconomic composition of the survey respondent group and the broader population of crisis nursery users. Specifically, African Americans, caregiver households with income below $10,000, and those with lower education levels were underrepresented in the sample of survey respondents.

Authors’ Discussion/Conclusions: “This study found that crisis nurseries provided positive support for caregivers.”