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Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) is an adaptation of MST that was developed to treat families who have come to the attention of Children’s Services due to physical abuse and/or neglect and who have one or more children aged 6 to 17 years who are subject to a child protection plan.
Key aims of MST-CAN
MST-CAN works with families to keep children at home with increased safety. The focus is providing treatment to the whole family with special attention given to parents to overcome some of the challenges they face to parenting. It is very common for parents in MST-CAN programmes to have experienced a traumatic event and treatment is provided to help overcome the impact of trauma.
In MST-CAN programmes a great deal of safety planning is included in addition to treatment for anger management difficulties, parental or youth substance abuse, and family problem solving and communication problems.
The MST-CAN team delivers treatment in the family’s home at flexible times, with a 24/7 on call service to help the family manage crises after hours. Treatment is intensive and lasts for six to nine months.
MST CAN is also recommended in NICE guidance for therapeutic interventions after abuse and neglect and the Early Intervention Foundation's Guidebook
MST-CAN in the UK
There are currently MST CAN teams in Doncaster, Leeds, Leicester, Knowsley, Newcastle and Nottingham City
The effectiveness of MST-CAN was evaluated in a randomised controlled trial (Swenson, Schaeffer, et al., 2010 and Swenson & Schaeffer 2018) in South Carolina. The study involved 86 families implicated in a Child Protective Service’s report of physical abuse. This study showed that MST-CAN was twice as effective as the alternative outpatient therapy at preventing out-of-home placement. Moreover, MST-CAN was more effective at reducing parent’s physical and psychological aggression towards their children and neglectful parenting. MST-CAN also was more effective at reducing parent and child mental health problems and increasing natural social supports.
In the UK, of the 71 families evaluated during the pilot period;
- 98% of children remain at home;
- 97% are in school or working;
(Data period: July 2009 to May 2015)
There has been work to establish the cost effectiveness of MST-CAN within UK, Europe and US. A recent evaluation study in Leeds established during the pilot phase there was a £1.59 return for every £1 spent on the programme. An evaluation of the Thurgau, Switzerland programme indicated that MST-CAN was 16-50% lower than the costs of contingency plans. From the randomised trial in the US, MST-CAN realised US $2.93 savings per dollar spent.
For information about the cost effectiveness of MST-CAN, please read this article: Economic Impact of Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect
If you would like more information about the MST-CAN model, click here to request an information sheet or visit the MST-CAN website www.mstcan.com
If you are interested in working in an MST CAN team, please visit the Current Vacancies page