Relief Nursery Return on Investment Study

Status: complete

Purpose & Research Question: The mission of Oregon Relief Nurseries is “to prevent abuse and neglect in children birth through 3 by partnering with caregivers committed to strengthening their families.” To do this, Relief Nursery programs provide a unique constellation of evidence-based services to high-risk families with children under age 5, including home visitation, therapeutic child care, parent education classes and groups, case management, and respite care. Evaluation of the Relief Nursery programs suggests that services are effective in reducing family risk factors, promoting family well-being, improving the quality of parenting, and reducing the level of involvement of families with child welfare services. Given these positive short-term outcomes, a key fundamental policy question emerged: What are the long-term returns on investments that can be expected from the Relief Nurseries? Family Building Blocks (Salem) and the Children’s Relief Nursery (Portland) partnered with NPC Research to develop and implement a Community-Based, Participatory Research (CBPR) project to begin to answer this question.

Project Design: This project collected information to help form the foundation for legislative and community advocacy to expand support for the Relief Nursery model across Oregon. CBPR is a particular approach to program evaluation and research that is based on the premise that information generated by research will be more useful, relevant, and meaningful when the research itself is designed and implemented in close collaboration with program staff, program participants, and key community stakeholders. Therefore, the first step was to form a Relief Nursery Policy Research Team composed of researchers, program staff, community stakeholders, and participating parents.

Over the course of the project, this group, with assistance from other identified organizations: (1) developed, implemented and oversaw the cost-benefit research; (2) regularly reviewed and analyzed cost-benefit results; (3) designed an advocacy plan based on a policy analysis of the results of the cost-benefit (and other available) research — including training and leadership development for community stakeholders and program graduates, developing social marketing materials and strategies, and other strategies identified by the team;and (4) implemented and evaluate advocacy strategies.

Funding Source: Northwest Health Foundation

Start Date: March 2009

NPC Project Team

Principal Investigator and Project Director

Beth Green, Ph.D.

Project Staff

Theresa Herrera Allen, Ph.D.

Mary Beth Sanders, B.S.