KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research

How Can We Help Parents Cope with the Burden of Toxic Stress?

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Fri, Dec 06, 2019 @ 11:54 AM

Do the Holidays Bring Joy or Stress?

A little stress in life can be useful. It may motivate people to stop procrastinating, take better care of their health, or explore new opportunities. However, too often the lavishness of the holidays depicted in stores and in advertisements may bring families stress rather than joy. These messages may act as reminders of the stress from lack of food and clothing for their family, lack of safe, stable housing, insufficient health care, or violence in their family or neighborhood.  This stress for parents and children may grow heavier in the face of our society’s extravagant holiday glee.  Eventually, the accumulation of such burdens takes a toll on parents’ and children’s mental or physical health and well-being.  The continual weight can lead to toxic stress when powerful, frequent or ongoing harmful experiences trigger a person’s defenses to freeze, fight or flee.  Carrying this burden of toxic stress can be so overwhelming that it disrupts a family’s nurturance, their relationships and routines.

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Tags: parent-child relationship, engagement-parent, family, community, adverse experiences/toxic stress, family support-partnership-services, coping with stress

Do Cell Phones Enhance Parenting Interventions Over Long-Term?

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Tue, May 15, 2018 @ 04:19 PM

Cell Phones Are Everywhere!

Today 75% of U.S. adults own a smart phone, compared to 35% in 2011. A hefty 92% of 18- to 29-year-olds own a smartphone, versus 42% of adults ages 65 and older. As researchers Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff have found, when parents let screen time interrupt their social interactions with their young children, it can hinder their young children’s development. It’s up to parents to use cell phones responsibly, as a resource rather than a disruption, during their activities with their children.  Can family services providers turn the ubiquitous presence of cell phones into an advantage for families and children?

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Tags: parenting outcomes, Parenting Assessment, parent-child interaction, engagement-parent, family, community, SafeCare, maternal depression, retention, PCI, cell phones, text messaging

KIPS Proves Parenting Outcomes and Guides Program Improvement in PAT Program at Child Crisis Arizona

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Guest Blog by

Erin Cowan, MSW, Program Director

Child Crisis Arizona, Home Visiting Program

Mesa, Arizona

Child Crisis Arizona, Home Visiting Program (CCAZ-HV) is a program for expecting mothers and families with children up to 5 years old in Mesa, Arizona.  It is a program within Child Crisis Arizona and funded by First Things First Arizona.  In 2013 the Parents as Teachers national center awarded CCAZ-HV the Losos Prize for Excellence for our innovative central intake program and our commitment to high standards of quality when serving our families

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Tags: Parenting Assessment, parent-child relationship, continuous quality improvement, engagement-parent, family, community

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.

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

How to Include Fathers in Family Services: Messages, Contacts, Skills

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 07:21 PM

In our previous two blogs in this 3-part series on Dad-friendly services, we discussed the unique contributions Dads make to children’s daily lives and their development, and 10 Tips from a UK report that rethinks the design of family services to genuinely welcome Dads to perinatal and family support programs. In this blog we’ll outline some strategies recommended by Dads and practitioners for shaping your services to engage Dads and enhance their competence and comfort as nurturing fathers.

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Tags: fathers, engagement-parent, family, community, family support-partnership-services

Ten Tips for Making Family Services Work for Dads

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 03:49 PM

In our last blog we talked about the unique contributions Dads make to children’s daily lives and their development, despite the media stereotypes which all too often belittle fathers and their efforts.   Though there are early parenthood programs focused on fathers and recent efforts to promote  rigorous evaluation of fatherhood programs by the Fatherhood Research & Practice Network in the US, most family service programs target primarily mothers.  In this blog we discuss a UK report that rethinks the design of family services to genuinely welcome Dads, along with Moms and Babies, to perinatal and family support programs.

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Tags: fathers, engagement-parent, family, community, family support-partnership-services

Dads Matter Too! Engaging Fathers in Parenting Services

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Tue, Jul 07, 2015 @ 06:09 PM

When you hear the word Parent, who do you think of first? … At quick response, most people say Mom.  All too often Dads aren’t given the credit they deserve.  Despite decades of research supporting Dads’ valuable contributions to children’s development, they are often portrayed in the mass media (e.g., TV, radio, Internet, movies) as the goofy playmate, the incompetent caregiver, the uninterested bystander, or the stern disciplinarian who stands in for Mom every so often.

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Tags: parent-child interaction, assessing parenting, fathers, engagement-parent, family, community, family support-partnership-services

What’s Wrong with “Home Visiting”? New Research Says . . .

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 02:12 PM

The Pew Charitable Trusts held the Fifth National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs in Washington, DC this month.  It offered an abundance of information on cutting edge home visiting research and interventions.  Like last year (if you missed it, see our blog), one of the most thought-provoking sessions was about the messages conveyed to moms by the words Home Visiting.

At this year’s Summit the same public opinion research and communication strategists, Bill McInturff and Michael Bloomfield, presented another series of studies on Language to Engage Families (Select Presentation Materials tab; Scroll down to Morning Plenary: Language to Engage Families).  Like last year, they concluded that Home Visiting is the wrong term for what many of us do, and especially for engaging families in valuable, much-needed services.  The researchers emphasized that Home Visiting sends the wrong message to gain support for funding from adults in the general community (surveyed last year), as well as to enroll moms who are prospective home visiting program participants.

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Tags: home visiting, parenting assessments, engagement-parent, family, community, family support-partnership-services

Parenting Assessment Supports Families as Lifelong Educators

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 @ 04:47 PM

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to co-facilitate a workshop on parenting assessment with Heather Nusbaum, Early Childhood Education Specialist, Ohio Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Center, at the Ohio Head Start Association Leadership and Professional Development Conference.  Approximately 200 Program Directors, Coordinators, and Evaluators attended from Head Start and Early Head Start (HS/EHS) programs across the state.  Many of the conversations, both inside and outside of sessions, involved the outcome data generated by the CLASS, an observational assessment of the quality of teacher-child interactions.  The Office of Head Start requires the CLASS as part of its monitoring review and professional development systems for center-based programs.  The Ohio Head Start leaders seemed to embrace this classroom observational assessment as a guide for improving teacher practices and quality education for children.  So I was listening intently for the readiness of the leadership to incorporate observational parenting assessment into their family services.  After all, you may recall a previous KIPS blog entitled Measuring What Works for Children: CLASS™ for School & KIPS for Home in which guest blogger Sedra Spano from Teachstone said: 

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Tags: Parenting Assessment, Early Head Start, Head Start, Parents as Teachers, engagement-parent, family, community

Promoting Family Engagement in Children’s Learning in the Community

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 @ 09:58 AM

Children learn everywhere, and all the time.  They are constantly observing, asking questions, trying new things, and building relationships as they explore their environmentsResearch suggests that only 20% of children’s waking hours each year are spent learning in classrooms. That means 80% of their time is open for exploring and learning in the home and community settings.  As we have discussed in previous blogs, research suggests that parenting and the home environment are the dominant factors in children’s academic success (12, 3, 4).

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Tags: parent-child relationship, parent assessment, engagement-parent, family, community