Bridging Disciplinary Boundaries (January 11 - 14, 2007)

Saturday, January 13, 2007: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM
Marina Room (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
Interdisciplinary Studies of Early Intervention with Families Facing Multiple Risks: Risk Analysis Protocols
Organizer:Marianne Berry, PhD, University of Kansas
Experimental Study of Treatment of Maternal Responsiveness Toward Children
Kathleen M. Baggett
Assessing Risk and Engagement in a Longitudinal Study of Early Head Start
Jane Atwater, PhD
Assessment of Cumulative Risk from Pregnancy to Early Parenting
Kere P. Hughes, PhD
Studies of Early Intervention Families Facing Multiple Risks
Marianne Berry, PhD
Abstract Text:
There is growing recognition of the multiple and complex needs of families who request early intervention services. To advance interdisciplinary early intervention research and practice aimed at enhancing family engagement, there is tremendous need to better understand family risk. This is especially the case for advancing research and practice with families at the highest levels of risk, who are likely to be most in need of intervention and most difficult to engage in intervention. The purpose of this interdisciplinary panel is to present and discuss different study methods of analyzing risk among families with very young children facing multiple stressors. Three papers, each focusing on a different study of risk analysis in relation to child and/or family outcomes, will be presented. The first paper describes a 4-site study that examined the relationship between cumulative risk assessed during pregnancy for 496 mothers from 3 distinct socio-demographic groups and the quality of their parenting when their children were 4 months-old. Significant negative relationships were found between the number of risk factors and positive parenting outcomes. This paper will discuss how the cumulative risk index was created, advantages and disadvantages of using this type of index and its relationship to parenting outcomes. The second paper describes results from a longitudinal evaluation of 77 families in an urban Early Head Start Program. In the first level of risk analysis, we examined demographic risk and level of program engagement as predictors of changes in parent responsiveness. In a second set of analyses, we examined the relationship of changes in responsiveness to child outcomes. Results, implications, and challenges will be discussed. The third paper reports on a study that examined effects of an intervention to enhance maternal responsiveness in early infancy. Forty-eight mothers and their infants were randomly assigned to a parent responsiveness treatment condition or to a social support control condition. Effects were examined in relationship to maternal risk and engagement factors. Mothers who benefited from the responsiveness intervention showed significantly more active versus passive engagement in intervention. Mothers with low engagement were significantly more likely to have had prior involvement with child protection services, experienced more stressful interpersonal relationships, and to have been classified as having adult attachment difficulties

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