"It's never black and white": Early interventionists' experiences supporting abused children and their families

Catherine Corr, Deserai Miller, Christine Spence, Ashley Ann Marshall, Kelli Mott, James Kretzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Early interventionists (EIs) support families of infants and toddlers with delays and disabilities. Children with disabilities are a high risk for abuse and neglect. To understand how or whether trauma-informed practices are utilized in early intervention, 28 EIs participated in focus groups to share their experiences, challenges, and strategies when supporting children with disabilities who have also been abused. A thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Participants indicated that they experienced challenges related to identifying signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, making decisions regarding their role as a mandated reporter and differentiating between family circumstances (i.e., poverty) and abuse and neglect. Participants also indicated that their educational programs did not prepare them to utilize trauma-informed practices or prepare them to work with children who have been abused or neglected. Overall, the EI system supports individuals with disabilities who are more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and maltreatment. However, this study indicates EIs do not feel prepared or confident to support children who have experienced abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Services
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019



  • Early intervention
  • Maltreatment
  • Special education
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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