Early Steps Multisite Study

The Early Steps Project is an ongoing, longitudinal study of 731 ethnically-diverse families from urban (Pittsburgh, PA), suburban (Eugene, OR), and rural (Charlottesville, VA) sites. Families were recruited when children were 2 years old, and at recruitment, all families displayed sociodemographic, family, and child risk factors, suggesting that this cohort of children are at high risk for displaying trajectories of conduct problems (CP) and later drug use.

 The Early Steps Multisite study builds on the Pitt Early Steps Pilot Study to examine the efficacy of the Family Check-Up (FCU) intervention in this sample from ages 2 to 16, with intervention ending when children were age 10.5. The study consists of regular home assessments and treatment sessions with families who were randomly assigned to the intervention group.  The families were previously assessed annually when children were ages 2 to 5 years old and 7.5 to 10.5 years old Ongoing follow-ups are taking place when youth are ages 14 and 16 years old, involving home assessments of youth functioning, the quality of the family environment, and collection of saliva samples from youth from which to obtain genetic data.

In the current study, impressive intervention effects of the FCU have been found through the school-age period on such child outcomes as child conduct and emotional problems, inhibitory control, language development and academic achievement, as well as maternal depression and social support. Youth outcomes have been reported by parents and teachers at home and school, respectively.

In the current follow-up, we seek to understand whether these intervention effects will continue to be found for child problem behavior, including substance use and high-risk sexual behavior, as well as facets of the home environment (e.g., parental monitoring and well-being). In addition, we will be examining whether intervention effects will be moderated by neighborhood deprivation (i.e., weakened effects in higher-risk neighborhoods) and genetic risk.