A quasi-experimental study of the Multi-Agency Investigation & Support Team (MIST): A collaborative response to child sexual abuse

James Herbert, Leah Bromfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To improve the holistic response to child sexual abuse in Perth, Western Australia, a group consisting of government and community support agencies developed a new co-located approach that combined support services with investigations, called the Multi-agency Investigation & Support Team (MIST). The model was comparable to the prominent Children’s Advocacy Centre approach, with adaptations for Australian conditions. This study evaluated the fidelity with which this new program was delivered and examined whether it resulted in improved criminal justice, child protection, and service outcomes compared to existing practice. Drawing on service data linked across participating agencies the study found MIST was delivered with reasonable fidelity to its planned procedure, but with some challenges for delivery of the program due to the relative workload for staff in the MIST condition. The service demonstrated high levels of caregiver satisfaction with the response and high rates of children’s engagement with therapy. A quasi-experimental comparison between MIST (n = 126) and Practice as Usual (n = 276) found MIST was significantly faster throughout the criminal justice and child protection processes, but the conditions did not differ in the rate of arrest or child protection actions. While embedding support services within the investigation process may not have a dramatic influence on criminal justice and child protection outcomes, the high rates of uptake of therapeutic services and parental satisfaction suggest other benefits that require future exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104827
JournalCHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT
Volume111
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

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