KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research

Autism Spectrum Disorder – No One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 @ 01:22 PM

Last week while enjoying a glorious spring day with my family soaking in the Hershey Gardens, I noticed another family touring with their preschool child.  His behavior reminded me of the kids with autism I home visited long ago. It was invigorating to see the intense focus he brought to the sights, sounds and smells of the Butterfly Atrium. 

Read More

Tags: autism, ASD, Asperger's syndrome, Parenting Assessment

Parent Engagement Can Close School Readiness Gap: New Research Review

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Wed, Mar 08, 2017 @ 01:35 PM

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ) just released an exciting research review.  Decades of research prove that children begin learning from the first day of their lives. Thus, parents are the prime drivers of early development, which lays the foundation for lifelong learning.  As we’ve argued in previous blogs (12, 3, 4), it stands to reason that supporting parents to nurture their children’s early experiences will enhance children’s readiness for school and social skills, decrease children’s behavior problems, and strengthen academic success.  A new research report from RWJ asks “What Works” under the umbrella of parent engagement.  As you can see from the report title,Parent Engagement Practices Improve Outcomes for Preschool Children, it focuses on the ultimate goal of improving children’s outcomes.

Read More

Tags: school readiness, engagement-parent, family, community, Parenting Assessment, outcomes assessment

Investing in Early Years and Parenting Are Key for Lifelong Success

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 @ 12:35 PM


 If you follow the KIPS Blogs, you know that we are big fans of James Heckman (1, 2), from the University of Chicago Center for the Economics of Human Development, who is a tireless advocate for investing in early intervention to gain greater returns for children, families, and communities. 

In a previous blog, we took a look at his small book entitled Giving Kids a Fair Chance (A Strategy that Works).  As a Nobel Prize winning economist, Heckman’s writing is often highly technical.  However, he wrote this powerful little book in plain language to get his message out to the public.  In Giving Kids a Fair Chance, Heckman makes 3 powerful points.  For his website, he has distilled these 3 points into what is known as the Heckman Equation: invest + develop + sustain = gain. Heckman estimated a sevenfold return on quality investments in the preschool years for three and four-year-olds. There is no other known public investment that can make this claim.  

Or is there?

Read More

Tags: Parenting Assessment, child health,development, learning, early childhood investment, outcomes assessment

Tips for Supporting ESL Staff with Online Parenting Assessment Training

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Thu, Dec 01, 2016 @ 05:54 PM

Guest Blog by

Theresa Zighera, Evaluation Officer

First 5 San Francisco

We have learned a few important things over the years with regard to training and support for staff taking the KIPS parenting assessment course when their first language is one other than English or Spanish. We had the advantage of being able to set up small group trainings and have peer translators (over time we were also able to have translators who had also already become KIPS certified), which made a big difference and is recommended whenever possible.

Aside from translation support, read on to learn some of the other strategies we utilized.

Read More

Tags: online training, family support-partnership-services, parenting assessment training, diverse staff

Good News: US Policy Changes Reflect Parenting Research!

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 @ 05:14 PM

Raise your hand if you’re in favor of positive parent-child relationships. . . .  My hand’s up.  Is yours?  The great news is we are not alone.  We now have friends in high places. If you are affiliated with a family service organization, it’s likely that promoting positive parent-child relationships has been one your major program outcomes for years (see listings in HOMVEE, CEBC). In 2016, the U.S. government has followed in your footsteps and written the parent-child relationship into policy.  During the last couple of months we’ve seen 3 major federal announcements spotlighting parenting.  At last, policy for child and family services is following the longstanding research detailing the benefits of positive parenting for children’s health, brain development and learning.

Read More

Tags: parenting skills, Head Start, Early Head Start, Parenting Assessment, family support-partnership-services, evidence-based, MIECHV

Congratulations! Uncle Sam Believes Your Support for Quality Parenting Matters

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 @ 06:00 AM

A new 400-page report, Parenting Matters! has just been released by the National Academies of Science. This title is music to the ears of those of us who have made a career of working to promote quality parenting.  The report from the United States premier scientific authority validates our work, as is clear from its full title:Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8.  It reveals the results of a study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families, along with the Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as several private foundations. 

Read More

Tags: parenting matters, family support-partnership-services, parenting skills, evidence-based

Is Quality Parenting More Like Gardening or Carpentry?

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Fri, Sep 09, 2016 @ 01:42 PM

All of us in the KIPS community believe that parents play a critical role in promoting children’s healthy development. So it was a precious gift to discover a book this summer that validates the invaluable role of parents and the work we do to support parents. Like tending a garden, parents must protect and nurture their babies, toddlers and children until they can navigate on their own in the wider world.  As we all know, it takes plenty of support from trusted souls like us for parents to gain the knowledge and skills to do the tough job of parenting.

Read More

Tags: Parenting Assessment, exploration, nurturing parenting

Survey and Observational Assessments Not Correlated in CPS & Court-Involved Families: Implications for Services

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 @ 06:50 PM


In a previous KIPS Blog, you learned about the MOVE program, an innovative, 13-week mandated parenting program for families affected by intimate partner violence (IPV) and involved in the court or child protective service systems.  Practitioners working with these families and the courts influence life-changing decisions on parent-child visitation and custody.  However, this critical work is hindered by two major difficulties.  First, there is a lack of research on how to effectively support families who have experienced IPV.  Second, few of these decisions are based on reliable evidence regarding the strengths and needs of these families. This is why I’ve been eagerly awaiting the results of the MOVE program evaluation study.

Read More

Tags: court involved, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, parenting behavior, parenting assessments, MOVE program

A “Collapse of Parenting” Needs to Be Assessed Carefully

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 @ 12:12 PM

I first heard about this book on a National Public Radio broadcast from nearby Philadelphia during which Dr. Sax was interviewed about his fourth book on parenting. Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, is an experienced family practice physician who is also trained in psychology. The Collapse of Parenting:  How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups is his latest book that offers advice for parents to raise healthier children and teenagers.

Read More

Tags: Parenting Assessment, parent-child relationship, protective factors, evidence-based

Go Beyond Child Welfare; Support Child & Family Well-Being

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Sat, May 21, 2016 @ 04:45 PM

This blog was posted initially on HuffPost Parents on 05/02/2016 and is shared with permission.

Creating a 21st Century Child Well-Being System

Matthew Melmed 

Executive Director, ZERO TO THREE

International leader and advocate for infants

As National Child Abuse Prevention Month draws to a close, we take time to reflect on how we protect young children and make new plans to move forward. The final report of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities seems a fitting, though sorrowful, place to start.

According to the Commission’s report, between 1,500 and 3,000 children — three-quarters of them babies and preschool-age children — become fatalities each year as a result of maltreatment, ending short lives that never had a chance to blossom. In fact, more than 700,000 children experienced substantiated maltreatment in 2014, including 192,000 infants and toddlers who face long developmental odds because of this experience.

Encouragingly, the report calls for a new 21st Century Child Welfare System. We absolutely need such a system to replace the current dysfunctional one that fails to get to the heart of families’ problems and children’s well-being, but we shouldn’t stop there. We need a 21st Century Child Well-Being System - a system that includes child welfare and also offers a comprehensive and integrated system of services designed to proactively support families with young children to help them thrive. By addressing the needs of families before there is a crisis, we can work toward the goal of ultimately reducing the number of families that become involved with Child Protective Services.

Read More

Tags: home visiting, child abuse/neglect prevention, family support-partnership-services, child well-being