The Evidence

Family Connects is an evidence-based model that supports all families welcoming a new baby. When Family Connects is implemented with high quality, research demonstrates that families are stronger, children’s lives are enhanced, and communities save money. Two randomized controlled trials of Family Connects (formerly called Durham Connects and conducted in Durham, NC) have been conducted.

An ongoing randomized controlled trial of Family Connects began in 2009. Results have shown:

  • Emergency room visits and hospital overnight stays were reduced by 50% in the first year of life; these results were sustained but did not increase through the second year of life.
  • Mothers were 28% less likely to report possible postpartum clinical anxiety.
  • Mothers reported significantly more positive parenting behaviors, like hugging, comforting and reading to their infants; no significant differences were found in negative parenting behaviors.
  • Mothers expressed increased responsivity to, and acceptance of, their infants.
  • Home environments were improved — homes were safer and had more learning materials to support infant development.
  • Community connections increased by 15%.
  • When using out of home childcare, families used higher quality care.

A second randomized controlled trial took place in 2014. Results from this trial have shown:

  • Families had 44% lower rates of Child Protective Services investigations for suspected child abuse or neglect through the second year of life.
  • Community connections increased by 13%.
  • Mothers were 30% less likely to experience possible postpartum depression or anxiety.
  • Families were more likely to use out-of-home childcare.
  • As the number of birth risks increased, infants experienced fewer emergency department visits but more hospital overnights.
  • Mothers were more likely to complete their 6-week postpartum health check, but also had more emergency department visits.

Results from research on the Family Connects model has been published in a number of journals, including Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, and JAMA Network Open. This formative research has been led by FCI’s founder Dr. Kenneth Dodge and our Director for Research and Innovation, Dr. Ben Goodman.