APA's Adults and Children Together (ACT) Against Violence training program is successfully disseminating information on creating safe environments for children throughout the United States, according to the results released this month of an evaluation of the program conducted by a private research company, Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation.
"Our goal is to get people to be active coordinators of violence-prevention activities in their communities," says ACT Training Program Director Julia Silva. "And the results of this evaluation indicate that it is happening."
Specifically, the ACT training program is designed to provide professionals, including psychologists, social workers and educators, with tools to make early-childhood violence prevention visible in communities and to educate adults about their important role in preventing violence in children's lives, says Silva. The program, sponsored by APA's Public Interest Directorate, prepares professionals to disseminate ACT program messages and skills either through national continuing-education workshops or through workshops conducted in communities nationwide. Trainees are in turn asked to convey the key concepts and skills to other local adults, such as parents and teachers.
The evaluation study began in the summer of 2001, when ACT developers approached the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a proposal to measure the effectiveness of the program. Through a competitive bidding process, CDC selected Battelle's research center to conduct the study.
Evaluation study results
The program evaluators sought to assess the success of ACT dissemination and implementation. To do that, they gathered information from professionals trained at a national workshop and two Kansas City, Mo., workshops. Evaluators also polled a sample of adults that the professionals later informed about ACT. Results of the evaluation show most of the trained professionals--approximately 90 percent of those trained nationally and 85 percent of those trained in Kansas City--disseminated ACT information in their workplaces and communities.
Three months after the training workshops, nationally trained professionals had distributed ACT messages and materials to 1,262 adults, and Kansas City-trained professionals had distributed the messages and materials to 3,450 adults.
"These numbers show that the people we're training are leaving the seeds of activism in communities, and adults all across the country are getting interested in being involved in violence prevention," Silva says.
The evaluation also showed that close to 85 percent of those who attended the training program's national and local workshops felt that their ability to create safe environments for children had improved, Silva adds.
Reaching out to adults
In addition, about the same number of adults contacted by ACT-trained professionals remembered the contact and the program content, says Silva. And, she notes, the evaluation also indicated another important outcome: More than two-thirds of the adults contacted by ACT trainees were interested in learning more about violence prevention, and about half were interested in learning how to train others about violence prevention.
"It suggests that the people we're out there talking to are not only getting the message about violence prevention, but also developing a personal interest," Silva says. "They may represent a pool of potential recruits into the ACT Program."
In ongoing ACT training in the Kansas City area, for example, trainers ask trainees--teachers, domestic violence-prevention workers, juvenile justice officials and police officers--to pass out ACT information to at least 25 family members and other adults. Providing the training is HOMEFRONT, a coalition of 44 groups that work on children and family issues.
ACT trainees get information that enhances what they already do, says HOMEFRONT's Community Education Director Laura Crawford. Research-based information on preventing violence and ideas for community programs and activities are particularly valuable, she adds.
"Those are both powerful additions to the professional knowledge base," Crawford says.
Elsewhere in the country, ACT training and activities are ongoing in California, New Jersey and Maryland.