SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being]

Scientific Rating:
Promising Research Evidence
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] has been rated by the CEBC in the area of: Home Visiting Programs for Child Well-Being.

Target Population: Parents at-risk for child neglect and/or abuse and parents with a history of child neglect and/or abuse

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 5

Brief Description

SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] is an in-home parent training program that targets risk factors for child neglect and physical abuse in which parents are taught skills in three module areas: (1) how to interact in a positive manner with their children, to plan activities, and respond appropriately to challenging child behaviors, (2) to recognize hazards in the home in order to improve the home environment, and (3) to recognize and respond to symptoms of illness and injury, in addition to keeping good health records. All three modules should be used in the implementation of SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being]; any modifications to or elimination of modules need to be discussed with the program developers.

SafeCare® has also been rated a 2 (Supported by Research Evidence) by the CEBC in the areas of Home Visiting Programs for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Intervention for Abusive Behaviors, Interventions for Neglect, Parent Training Programs that Address Child Abuse and Neglect, and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Secondary). Please click here to see the SafeCare® entry in these topic areas.

Program Goals:

The goals of SafeCare® are:

  • Reduce future incidents of child maltreatment
  • Increase positive parent-child interaction
  • Improve how parents care for their children's health
  • Enhance home safety and parent supervision
  • Essential Components

    The essential components of SafeCare® include:

    • Parent-infant/child interaction assessment and training - Provides parent instruction on target behaviors that is designed to reduce child physical abuse and neglect risk by improving parent-child interactions and reducing difficult child behaviors:
      • Assess parent’s interactions using the cPAT Assessment form
      • Teach parent how to organize activities by preparing in advance, establish routines, explain expectations to a child and follow through, use good verbal and physical interactions, and transition between activities
    • Home safety assessment and training - Provides parent instruction on target behaviors that is designed to reduce the risk of unintentional injury by removing home hazards and improving parental supervision:
      • Assess accessible home hazards with the Home Accident Prevention Inventory Assessment form
      • Work with parents to remove identified hazards and implement child proofing strategies
      • Teach the importance of parent supervision according to the developmental age of the child and what this looks like for the family
    • Child health assessment and training - Provides parent instruction on decision making strategies aimed at reducing medical neglect:
      • Assess parent skills using the Sick or Injured Child Checklist Assessment form
      • Teach use of a decision making process to determine when to seek emergency services, seek nonemergency medical services, or when to care for a child at home
      • Parents learn how to use health reference materials and to keep good health records
    • Parent and Provider training follows this sequence:
      • Explaining and modeling of targeted skills
      • Role-play targeted skills
      • Assessment of targeted skills and ideally achievement of standardized criteria for completion
      • Monitor provider delivery for model fidelity
      • Booster training if performance falls below criteria

    Parent/Caregiver Services

    SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

    • Poor parent-child interaction

    Delivery Settings

    This program is typically conducted in a(n):

    • Adoptive Home
    • Birth Family Home
    • Foster/Kinship Care


    SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] includes a homework component:

    Parents are encouraged to practice skills between sessions. Providers work with parents to develop the practice plan around planned activities with child between Parent-Child Interaction module sessions, safety hazard removal and maintenance between Safety sessions, and health care checklists practice between Health sessions.


    SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] has materials available in languages other than English:

    French, Hebrew, Spanish

    For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

    Resources Needed to Run Program

    The typical resources for implementing the program are:

    • A SafeCare Provider
    • A SafeCare Coach
    • Transportation for in-home sessions
    • Audio recorders (one for each Provider so that they can audiotape each sessions for the purpose of coaching) or Android or iOS devices that support the SafeCare Mobile Application
    • Dolls (used dolls are fine) to use during role-plays with the parents
    • Tape measure (use during the Safety module)
    • No choke test tube (use during the Safety module)
    • Bag or plastic bin (to carry and organize materials)
    • Clipboard (for assessments and taking notes)
    • Coloring sheets and crayons (for children during sessions)
    • Toys (for infants and children during sessions)
    • Safety First Kit (or cabinet latches, door knob holders, outlet covers)
    • Screwdriver (to assist family in installing safety latches)
    • No choke test tube/Small parts tester (to leave with family)
    • Digital thermometer with cover (to leave with family)

    Minimum Provider Qualifications

    Experience suggests at least a college education, but it has not been fully explored. The most important issue is that staff be trained to performance criteria.

    Education and Training Resources

    There is a manual that describes how to implement this program, and there is training available for this program.

    Training Contacts:
    Training is obtained:

    Provided onsite by certified trainers

    Number of days/hours:

    To become a SafeCare Provider, the required training is conducted over 32 hours during 4 consecutive days of workshop training, followed by observations of at least nine sessions by a certified SafeCare Coach. To become a SafeCare Coach, one needs to be a certified SafeCare Provider and attend an additional 16 hours of workshop training over 2 days, plus observations of at least six coaching sessions by a certified SafeCare Trainer. To become a SafeCare Trainer, one needs to be a certified SafeCare Coach and attend an additional 24 hours of workshop training over 3 days, plus observation of training and support of new Providers by a Trainer from the National SafeCare Training and Research Center.

    Implementation Information

    Since SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] is rated on the Scientific Rating Scale, information was requested from the program representative on available pre-implementation assessments, implementation tools, and/or fidelity measures.

    Show implementation information...

    Pre-Implementation Materials

    There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] as listed below:

    The National SafeCare® Training and Research Center (NSTRC) conducts an implementation planning process to facilitate an agency’s readiness to implement SafeCare®. NSTRC disseminates Implementation Planning Guides and collects information about the agency and describe steps agencies should take prior to SafeCare® training. Agencies are provided with appropriate documents, asked to review, and then the documents are reviewed jointly during a phone call with NSTRC prior to initiating a training contract. The documents focus on four main areas:

    • Population/systems - ensuring that the population targeted is appropriate for SafeCare®, and that the system in which SafeCare® will be implemented can support it (i.e., does it allow for an appropriate number of sessions, can coaching be paid for?)
    • Agency issues - ensuring that agency leadership and staff are all in support of SafeCare® implementation, and have communicated about why SafeCare® is being adopted, the importance of model fidelity, concerns that have arisen, caseloads, etc.
    • Staff to be trained - ensuring that the staff to be trained have been vetted and are in support of the model and comfortable with its approach, and have been briefed on training processes and expectations regarding implementation
    • Resources - discusses the resources needed for SafeCare® implementation.

    Additionally, NSTRC faculty conduct a site visit for every agency trained. NSTRC expects agency leadership and trainees to be present, and it is recommended to invite referral agents as well. The site visit will provide an overview of SafeCare®, and typically includes breakout sessions with agency management/funders and providers to discuss and problem solve typical implementation challenges. For more information, email

    Formal Support for Implementation

    There is formal support available for implementation of SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] as listed below:

    Certified SafeCare Coaches provide support for Providers. Home sessions are observed or listened to by the Coach to assess fidelity and guide feedback to the Provider in a Coaching call or meeting. SafeCare Coaches are supported by SafeCare Trainers, who assess the reliability of Coaches’ fidelity, as well as the quality of the Coaching session. NSTRC also provide technical assistance to agencies during the first year of implementation.

    The SafeCare Portal is a web-based portal that assists in trainee certification and fidelity monitoring, as well as facilitating support for Providers from their Coach. The Portal also collects data on Provider demographics and certification progress.

    Fidelity Measures

    There are fidelity measures for SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] as listed below:

    There are three fidelity assessment forms that are used for each SafeCare® module to assess the Provider’s delivery of the program to a family. Each assesses approximately 30 behaviors that should be performed during the SafeCare® session (e.g., opens session, observes parent behavior during practice, provides positive and corrective feedback). Each item is rated as “implemented,” “not implemented,” or “not applicable” to that session. Coaching sessions are also rated for fidelity using a coach fidelity assessment form. The measures can be requested at

    Implementation Guides or Manuals

    There are implementation guides or manuals for SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] as listed below:

    Manuals and implementation tools are provided with each training and implementation. Manuals include tools for SafeCare® delivery including a session outline for each of the SafeCare® sessions, all handouts that are to be provided to parents (e.g., health manual, home safety handouts), and all clinical tools to be used by the provider (e.g., assessment tools for parenting, health, and safety). Manuals for coaches include fidelity monitoring tools and discussion of fidelity monitoring processes. Samples of the materials are available either by visiting or by emailing

    Research on How to Implement the Program

    Research has been conducted on how to implement SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] as listed below:

    • Aarons, G., Fettes, D., Flores, L., & Sornmerfeld, D. (2009). Evidence-based practice implementation and staff emotional exhaustion in children's services. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47(11), 954-960.
    • Aarons, G., & Palinkas, L. (2007). Implementation of evidence-based practice in child welfare: Service provider perspectives. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 34(4), 411-419.
    • Aarons, G. A., Sommerfeld, D. H., Hecht, D. B., Silovsky, J. F., & Chaffin, M. J. (2009). The impact of evidence-based practice implementation and fidelity monitoring on staff turnover: Evidence for a protective effect. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 77(2), 270-280.
    • Palinkas, L., Aarons, G., Chorpita, B., Hoagwood, K., Landsverk, J., & Weisz, J. (2009). Cultural exchange and the implementation of evidence-based practices. Research on Social Work Practice, 19(5), 602-612.
    • Self-Brown, S., Frederick, K., Binder, S., Whitaker, D., Lutzker, J., Edwards, A., & Blankenship, J. (2011). Examining the need for cultural adaptations to an evidence-based parent training program targeting the prevention of child maltreatment. Children & Youth Services Review, 33(7), 1166-1172. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.02.010
    • Whitaker, D. J., Ryan, K. A., Wild, R. C., Self-Brown, S., Lutzker, J. R., Shanley, J. R., ... Hodges, A. E. (2012). Initial implementation indicators from a statewide rollout of SafeCare within a child welfare system. Child Maltreatment, 17(1), 96-101. doi:10.1177/1077559511430722

    Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

    This program is rated a "3 - Promising Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The practice must have at least one study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) establishing the practice's benefit over the placebo, or found it to be comparable to or better than an appropriate comparison practice. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.

    Child Welfare Outcomes: Safety and Child/Family Well-Being

    Show relevant research...

    Gershater-Molko, R. M., Lutzker, J. R., & Wesch, D. (2002). Using recidivism data to evaluate Project Safecare: Teaching bonding, safety and healthcare skills to parents. Child Maltreatment, 7(3), 277-285.

    Type of Study: Matched comparison group design
    Number of Participants: 82 families


    • Age — Children: 0-5 years, Parents: Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — Children: Not specified, Parents: Not specified
    • Gender — Children: Not specified, Parents: Not specified
    • Status — Participants were families with a substantiated child abuse claim with the Department of Children and Family Services or were high-risk.

    Location/Institution: Not specified

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    This study examined recidivism [habitual relapse] in a sample of families referred to the study by the local child welfare system due to recent substantiated reports of child abuse and/or neglect. The control group was matched based on child's birth date and geographical location from a sample of families participating in a Family Preservation program. Families in the SafeCare® group had significantly lower rates of re-abuse reporting during the 24-month follow-up period than the control group. At 36 months after the intervention 85% of the SafeCare® families had no further reports of child abuse, compared with 54% of the Family Preservation families. One limitation noted was that only those families who had completed all components of SafeCare®, including post-training data collection using the Beck Depression Inventory, Child Abuse Potential Inventory, and Parenting Stress Index were included in the treatment group, while there was no comparable assurance of level of service provided for the Family Preservation group, which makes the comparison less generalizable.

    Length of postintervention follow-up: At least 24 months.

    Gershater-Molko, R., Lutzker, J. R., & Wesch, D. (2003). Project SafeCare: Improving Health, safety and parenting skills in families reported for and at-risk for child maltreatment. Journal of Family Violence, 18(6), 377-386.

    Type of Study: Pretest-posttest study
    Number of Participants: 41 families


    • Age — Children: 0-5 years, Parents: Not specified
    • Race/Ethnicity — Children: Not specified, Parents: Not specified
    • Gender — Children: Not specified, Parents: Not specified
    • Status — Participants were families with recent reports of child maltreatment and those referred by social workers due to the risk factors of parents' age, low level of education, and lack of social support.

    Location/Institution: Not sepcified

    Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
    The purpose of this study was to examine the aggregate of pre–post differences in the three training components Project SafeCare [now called SafeCare®] of all families who completed each component. Measures utilized include The Home Accident Prevention Inventory-Revised (HAPI-R) and the Planned Activities Training (PAT). Results indicate statistically significant improvements in Health, Safety, and Parenting over baseline measures. However, the authors note that there was a high level of attrition from the program [decrease in using program components] among those who were referred, with only 10% completing all of the training components. This is cited as typical for maltreating and at-risk families referred to interventions with possible contributing factors including family stressors, involuntary referrals, and lack of resources or motivation. Limitations include lack of randomization of participants, small sample size and lack of follow-up.

    Length of postintervention follow-up: Not specified

    The following studies were not included in rating SafeCare® [Home Visiting for Child Well-Being] on the Scientific Rating Scale...

    Carta, J. J., Lefever, J. B., Bigelow, K., Borkowski, J., & Warren, S. F. (2013). Randomized trial of a cellular phone-enhanced home visitation parenting intervention. Pediatrics, 132(Supplement 2), S167-S173. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1021Q

    This randomized controlled trial examines parent and child outcomes for dyads who completed the Parent-Child Interaction module of SafeCare (one of the three SafeCare modules). The Parent-Child Interaction module is based on parent training in ten Planned Activities Training steps (PAT). Parent-child dyads were randomly assigned to one either PAT, a cellular phone-enhanced version (CPAT), or a waitlist control (WLC) to examine changes in parent and child outcomes at 6 months posttreatment. Measures included the PAT Checklist, the Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory-II, the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form, the Behavior Assessment Scale for Children-2-Parent Report Scale, and the Child Behavior Rating Scale. Mothers receiving PAT and CPAT demonstrated more frequent use of parenting strategies and engaged in more responsive parenting than mothers in the WLC. Mothers receiving CPAT used more PAT parenting strategies than mothers in the other 2 groups and experienced greater reductions in depression and stress. Children of mothers receiving PAT and CPAT demonstrated higher rates of positive engagement, and children of CPAT mothers demonstrated higher levels of adaptive behaviors than children in the WLC. Importantly, changes in parenting, depression, and stress predicted positive child behaviors. Limitations include the use of research staff to deliver the intervention and the narrow age range of the children in the study. Note: Since this study utilized only one of the three modules of SafeCare, it was not used in the rating of the overall SafeCare program.


    Chaffin, M., Hecht, D., Bard, D., Silovsky, J. F., & Beasley, W. H. (2012). A statewide trial of the SafeCare home-based services model with parents in child protective services. Pediatrics, 129, 509-515.

    Guastaferro, K. M., Lutzker, J. R., Graham, M. L., Shanley, J. R., & Whitaker, D. J. (2012). SafeCare: Historical perspective and dynamic development of an evidence-based scaled-up model for the prevention of child maltreatment. Psychosocial Interventions, 21, 171-180.

    Self-Brown, S., McFry, E., Montesanti, A, Edwards-Guara, A., Lutzker, J., Shanley, J, & Whitaker, D. (2014). SafeCare: A prevention and intervention program for child neglect and physical abuse. In R. Reece, R. Hanson, & J. Sargent (Eds). Treatment of child abuse: Common ground for mental health, medical and legal practitioners (2nd ed.). Baltimore:John Hopkins University Press.

    Contact Information

    Daniel J. Whitaker
    Title: Director, National SafeCare Training and Research Center
    Agency/Affiliation: Georgia State University

    Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: August 2016

    Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: July 2016

    Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2006