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Child Abuse Negl. 1995 Nov;19(11):1379-86.

A therapeutic preschool for abused children: the KEEPSAFE Project. Kempe Early Education Project Serving Abused Families.

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  • 1University of Sydney, Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Children's Hospital, Camperdown, NSW, Australia.


Twenty-four children attended a therapeutic preschool for physically and sexually abused children, the Kempe Early Education Project Serving Abused Families (KEEPSAFE), over a 3-year period from 1985-1988. The program provided early education and therapy for abused children so that they could improve developmentally, socially, and emotionally, with the aim that the children would be suitable to enter the public education system. The therapeutic preschool was combined with a home visitation program for the child's parents or primary caretaker, focusing on improving the quality of interaction between the adult and child. The majority of children made developmental gains at a faster rate than would normally be expected as measured by the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Although all 24 children were thought at onset of intervention to be unable to participate in a public school setting, after 12 months in the program over 79% were staffed into the public school system eight (33.3%) into a regular classroom. Three others (12.5%) needed residential care, and two were too young to enter public school. Even though a therapeutic preschool is expensive in terms of the high staff to child ratio needed, it is likely to be beneficial in improving the developmental skills of abused children.

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