KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research

Protect Children, Reduce Impact of Neglect. Build Nurturing Parenting

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 @ 12:21 PM

 Since 2017 we have been witnessing a devastating US practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border.  In early February 2019, Dr. Jack Shonkoff stepped forward to testify to a U.S. Congressional committee that is investigating the response of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to this family separation policy  He explained that the trauma that can be caused by such forced family separation and the long-term effects of toxic stress will continue to accumulate until children and their parents/caregivers are reunited. His testimony presented the scientific evidence needed to analyze the effects of the family separation policy.  Dr. Shonkoff is a renowned pediatrician, researcher and the Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.  He went on to clarify:

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Tags: parent-child relationship, parenting assessments, child abuse/neglect prevention, adverse experiences/toxic stress, nurturing parenting

Summer Safety Strategies: How to Protect Your Kids While Embracing the Outdoors

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 @ 04:54 PM

Guest Blog by Alex Robbins

Stay-at-home father of three lively boys.

Home safety is a number one priority when you are around this much energy and curiosity!

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Tags: parent-child interaction, play in nature, child abuse/neglect prevention

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.

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

The Triple P Child Welfare Controversy: A Measure of Hope

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Sat, Mar 19, 2016 @ 07:24 PM

A recent article in The Atlantic by Olga Kahzan reported on the controversy surrounding Triple P. Many of you have heard of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program ®. This is one of a number of models for supporting families to improve their parenting skills to develop more nurturing relationships and sensitive interactions with their children. Triple P is also one of the most extensively researched programs. 

Triple P aims to prevent emotional and behavioral problems and create a positive family environment for children to thrive. It was developed using a public health perspective to provide interventions geared to multiple levels of need, ranging from community awareness of positive parenting, to seminars and group classes, to home-based family intervention. There are also Triple P variations designed for targeted populations, such as families of children with special needs, those who are overweight, teenagers and families experiencing separation/divorce. Organizations may choose the levels and variations that fit their communities’ needs. Triple P claims an advantage over other family support programs due to this flexible range of service intensity, a broad evidence base, and a large scale of dissemination in 25 countries.

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Tags: parenting outcomes, Triple P, child abuse/neglect prevention, family support-partnership-services, parenting classes

Child Abuse/Neglect Prevention Month: An Authoritative Video Resource

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Fri, Apr 03, 2015 @ 01:13 PM

parenting_assessment_preventionIf you’ve been following the KIPS blog, you know that we advocate the prevention of child neglect, child abuse, and anything that might hinder a child’s development, learning and well-being.  Of the 700,000 cases reported to Child Protective Services in the US, 3/4s of them involve neglect.  Children under 3 years are more likely to experience abuse and neglect than older children.  For a clear and simple picture to help folks understand why child abuse/neglect should be a concern for all of us in our society, see the path to long-term impacts in the infographic developed by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.  It would make an eye-catching poster to start the conversation! 

To commemorate National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Children’s Bureau will offer The Connections videos series. On each of the Wednesdays in April a brief video will be posted at  I can hardly wait to watch them!

[Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at]

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Tags: Parenting Assessment, child abuse/neglect prevention

Resilient Children in Foster/Adoptive Care? Parenting Is Key

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Sat, Feb 21, 2015 @ 02:57 PM

Have you ever wondered what happened to the children you’ve known who were in foster or adoptive care?  As these children were growing up, what did “being in care” mean to them?  As young adults, what are they doing now?  What did they learn from those early life lessons that makes them who they are today?  If you’re like me, you have a thousand questions.  From personal experience within my extended family, I am honored and in awe to have witnessed the growth, grit and perseverance of the foster children who have grown to thriving young adults because of the nurturing of loving families.  I’ve seen how the foster and adoptive parents’ efforts have been so vital to helping my nieces and nephews grow into successful adults.

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Tags: assessing parenting, protective factors, attachment, resilience, foster/adoption, child abuse/neglect prevention

My CPS Caseworker Went from Threat to Mentor via Parenting Assessment

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 @ 09:03 PM

Lisa's husband had just left her and their three children when she first answered the door to meet Beth.  The apartment was upside down, the kids had just eaten and were a mess, and the baby was fighting a nap in the loudest way possible.  A "concerned party" had placed a call to social services because they were worried about the kids, and Lisa's ability to care for them without a job.  She was terrified, and sure that this visit would end in the loss of her children.  

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Tags: parent improvement, Parenting Assessment, court involved, divorce, child abuse/neglect prevention

Child Abuse and Neglect’s Impact Lasts a Lifetime: Prevention Is Key

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 @ 03:20 PM

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month 

This is our yearly reminder to redouble our efforts to identify children at risk of maltreatment and employ strategies to promote the physical, social and emotional well-being of children and families.  

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Tags: Parenting Assessment, maltreatment, child abuse/neglect prevention

Child Abuse Prevention Task Force Report: What’s Working?

Posted by Phil Gordon on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 @ 02:58 PM

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force just released an updated systemic review.  This extensive review is an update of a 2004 report which found insufficient evidence to recommend routine screening of parents or caregivers for abuse or neglect of children.  In 2010 about 700, 000 United States children were victims of abuse or neglect and about 1,500 died.  Thus the problem is large and worth much effort.  As discussed in a preceding post, the importance of intervening early to prevent child abuse/neglect is further bolstered by the increasing evidence that childhood trauma has lifelong consequences.

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Tags: Parenting Assessment, parent-child interaction, child abuse/neglect prevention