Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect for 30 Years

Nurturing Skills Competency Scale


Preventing and Treating Child Abuse and Neglect: Value of the NSCS

Parenting programs that are designed to treat or prevent the maltreatment of children often fall short in their goal. Research supports three factors for these failings:

1. The ineffectiveness of the parenting education being offered to the parents which includes: a) the dosage (number of total lessons offered are inadequate to the level of parental need); b) the intensity of the dosage (classes are condensed into a short period of time not allowing the information time to incubate into normal parenting patterns); or c) parenting lessons that do not meet the needs of the parents. That is, program focused lessons not parent focused lessons.

2. Poorly trained parent educators who: a) untrained in the program implementation; b) lack the competence to deliver the information in a manner that is conducive to learning; and c) have unresolved parenting and childhood issues of their own that interfere with adequately delivering the lessons.

3. The toxic environment in which the parents and children live. Factors such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, childhood experiences of abuse, poverty, unemployment, lack of adequate education, lack of health care, etc are all factors that challenge the implementation of newly acquired parenting skills.

Purpose of the NSCS

The NSCS is a criterion referenced, self-report inventory designed to provide comprehensive information about the “quality of life” issues that families face as they attempt to put into practice the new parenting beliefs, knowledge and skills. There are several editions of the NSCS that will be available. Each NSCS addresses the unique needs of children in different developmental groups: prenatal; birth to five; school-age; teen parents and parents and their adolescents. For many families, especially families receiving services from child welfare for child abuse or neglect, requiring families to attend a parenting program is simply not enough to make real changes that can promote positive and healthy parent-child relationships.

The NSCS is an inventory designed to gather information, both past and current, about individuals and their families in order to alert family members as well as professionals about on-going conditions that could lead to: 1. the initial occurrence of child maltreatment; or 2. the recurrence of child maltreatment.

Responses to the NSCS-3.0 provide an index of risk in six sub-scales: Construct A: About My Life

Sub-Scales of the NSCS-3.0

Responses to the NSCS-3.0 provide an index of risk in six sub-scales:

A. About Me

B. About my Childhood

C. About my Spouse/Partner

D. About MY Children & Family

E. My Knowledge of Nurturing Parenting

F. My Utilization of Nurturing Parenting Skills

Item Presentation

Items representing items in subscales A through E on the NSCS LV and SV are presented in a multiple choice format. Items in Construct F: My Utilization of Nurturing Parenting Skills are presented as statements of skills. Parents rate the use of these skills on frequency ratings from 0 to 3.

Item Scoring

Responses to the items are weighted according to degree of risk. Responses that are detrimental or directly contribute to higher levels of stress, individual harm, or family dysfunction receive low weightings. Responses to items that contribute to healthy individual and family functioning receive higher weightings. The total sum of the weights in each subscale is then plotted on the NSCS Profile. Interpretations of the scores in each subscale are presented on the NSCS profile.

Score Interpretation

Scores for the six subscales in the LV and the three subscales in the SV are presented on the NSCS Parenting Profile. Score interpretations are presented directly on the Parenting Profile. Different interpretations are presented for pretest scores and posttest scores for each of the subscales.

NSCS Profile

Responses to the NSCS are presented on a NSCS Profile. The profile utilizes a 1 to 10 standard spread of scores that are grouped into the following designations:

Below Average; Low Average; Average; High Average; Above Average.

Total subscale scores are transformed into 1 to 10 standard scores and are plotted on the Profile under one of the five degrees of “average” presented above. A line connects the 3(SV) or 6 (LV) scores forming a profile. The column on the far right hand side presents an interpretation of the scores in each of the six (LV) or three subscales (SV).

Pre and posttest scores are presented in tandem on the same profile or separately on two different profiles.

Administration Directions

Respondents take on an average 15 minutes to complete the Long Version and 10 minutes to complete the Short Version.

The NSCS can be administered independently or in conjunction with the AAPI-2.1. If used independently, follow these simple steps:

1. Select pretest in the drop down at the beginning of the program and identify the parent as a “new participant.”

2. Select posttest when administering the form at the end of the program and identify the parent as a “returning participant.” Selecting “new participant” as a pretest and “returning participant” as a posttest allows you to match both scores on one parenting profile for the NSCS and one parenting profile for the AAPI-2.1.

If administering the NSCS-3.0 in conjunction with the AAPI-2.1 as pre and posttests, follow these steps:

1. Administer Form A of the AAPI-2.1 as the pretest first selecting “new participant”.

2. Then administer the Pretest of the NSCS and select “returning participant” as the web program will assign all the inventories a parent completes to one ID number. Having all the inventories assigned to one ID number will allow you to print pre and posttest scores for the AAPI-2.1 and the NSCS on the profiles for each inventory.

3. When the time comes, administer Form B of the AAPI-2.1 as a posttest and select “returning participant.”

4. Administer the NSCS as a posttest selecting “returning participant”

Please Note: When entering data on the website, only select “new participant” the very first time you enter data for a parent regardless if you are administering a NSCS or AAPI-2.1.

Preliminary Validity and Reliability

1. NSCS items were developed and sent out for field testing to Nurturing Program statewide projects in Hawaii and Louisiana. Prototype I of the Inventory was revised based on the participant’s responses. Item analyses indicated the need for revisions and the development of Prototype 2.

2. Additional field testing with Prototype 2 indicated satisfactory distribution of pretest item responses per item.

3. Factor analyses provided loadings of the items in the order of decreasing variance. Items with the highest loadings were selected.

4. Test-retest reliability of .89 was measured with a population of parents participating in Healthy Start Parenting program throughout Hawaii.

5. High risk responses on the NSCS from parents participating in Hawaii’s Healthy Start Parenting program correlated at .80 with high risk parenting responses on the AAPI-2.1.

Continued validity and reliability of the NSCS is currently continuing with a broader parent population.


Construct A

About My Life.

Information generated from Construct A describes the current life conditions of the parent. Issues such as marital status, number of children, employment, household income, education level and military experiences influence the quality of the parent’s life and comprise the score for Construct A.

Construct B

About Me and My Childhood.

The replication of childhood history of abuse is a significant contributing factor to child maltreatment. In addition, current drug and alcohol abuse, witnessing domestic violence, siblings being abused, and the perceived quality of childhood relationships with mom and dad comprise the score for Construct B.

Construct C

About My Spouse/Partner

Domestic violence correlates highly with drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, and childhood history of abuse and neglect. The quality of life among spouses/partners comprises the score for Construct C.

Construct D

About My Children/Family

Abuse and neglect take their toll on the lives of children by normalizing violence as a way of life resulting in dysfunctional personality traits manifesting as maladaptive behaviors. Questions address the presence or absence of childhood abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, special learning needs, mental health problems and juvenile court involvement which comprise the score for Construct D.

Construct E

My Knowledge of Nurturing Parenting Practices

A backbone of acquiring new parenting skills and strategies is having accurate information. The 20 multiple choice items presented in Construct E will provide parents and parent educators with a composite score related to the accuracy of their knowledge of parenting skills and strategies.

Construct F

My Utilization of Nurturing Parenting Skills

The 20 items in Construct F asks parents to rate the degree to which they use the Nurturing Parenting skills and strategies that they defined in Construct E: Knowledge of Nurturing Parenting Practices. Assessing both areas allows parents and parent educators to review the scores in both Constructs and determine if there is an imbalance.


Family Development Resources

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