KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research

How-to Video: Serve & Return Parenting Builds Healthy Brains and Relationships

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Thu, Jun 06, 2019 @ 02:32 PM

Have you ever wondered how to explain “responsive parenting”?  It’s not easy to put into words.  It’s much easier to illustrate and understand using video.  Take a look at a new video, How to: 5 Steps for Brain Building Serve and Return, from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.  It walks step-by-step through video examples of parents and other caregivers as they play, shop, and cook with their young children.  The video shows each responsive adult’s undivided attention as s/he notices a child’s action, then follows the child’s lead to respond.  These “serve and return” interactions happen when a child says or does something and the adult responds in a timely and focused manner to support the child’s action.  Such continual back-and-forth interactions are essential parenting skills that build the child’s brain and the parent-child relationship during the earliest years of development from birth to 5 years.

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Tags: parent-child relationship, brain development, parent coaching, parenting videos

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

Oprah: A New ACEs Champion

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 @ 02:08 PM

Oprah Discovers ACES!

Oprah has become a passionate champion for broadcasting the alarming impact of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). ACEs refers to the profound long-term impact that traumatic childhood experiences have on health and well-being. One could hardly find a more beloved TV/movie personality and billionaire to champion this long-overlooked cause! In a recent segment on the 60 Minutes television series

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Tags: Parenting Assessment, parent-child relationship, court involved, adverse experiences/toxic stress, ACE

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

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.

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

Is ACEs Screening for Parents Helpful?

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Wed, May 11, 2016 @ 06:00 AM

ACE_assess_parenting.jpg

This week we return to the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences.  In our previous blog, we explored ACEs screening for children. What about ACEs screening for parents?

This is a question that I first heard when conducting an evaluation with a home visiting program for mothers and their children under 3 years old. The clinical staff had noted numerous traumatic childhood experiences reported during their conversations with participating mothers. Yet we had no group level information about how widespread these experiences were. The clinical staff decided to administer a structured screening inventory with each mother to describe the age and occurrence of traumatic experiences during childhood and adulthood. The results were astounding, and deeply troubled the clinical staff. 

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Tags: Parenting Assessment, parent-child relationship, adverse experiences/toxic stress, ACE

Child Poverty’s Impact on Our Future

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Mon, Nov 09, 2015 @ 07:05 PM

A new report, Income and Poverty in the United Sates: 2014 details the most current statistics for children and families in the United States, the largest economy in the world.  The title tells the story.  Despite the encouraging steps toward recovery from the 2008-09 recession in terms of employment, the US continues to be a society of the “haves and have-nots”.  The new poverty statistics are sadly too familiar.  I find it appalling that 21.1% of children under age 18 and 23.5% of children under age 6 live in poverty in the US!  Even worse, more than half, 55.1% of children under 6 years who live in families headed by single mothers live in poverty!  (See Income and Poverty in the United Sates: 2014, pages 14-15 for more details on children living in poverty).  Considering the trends over the past 50 years, we clearly are not winning the War on Poverty.

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Tags: Parenting Assessment, parent-child relationship, brain development, poverty

Positive Parenting Leads to Infant/Toddler Mental Health

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Sun, Oct 25, 2015 @ 06:08 PM


Child Trends 5 issues a series of monthly e-newsletters summarizing current research about children and youth.  The October 2015 newsletter, Child Trends:  Five Things to Know about Mental Wellness in Early Childhood is brief, but packed with lots of links to solid research. The authors highlighted facts about the mental wellness of infants and toddlers, birth to 3 years old.  Because parents and other significant caregivers are responsible for the early environments that young children experience, this newsletter focuses on what parents/caregivers need to understand and how they can promote children’s mental wellness during the first 3 years of life.

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Tags: parent-child interaction, parent-child relationship, attachment, resilience, emotional development, mental health

Can Parents Promote Resilience in Their Children?

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 04:37 PM

As I look out my window I am struck by the resilience of nature.  As spring fades into summer, the hollies, that suffered severe frost damage from the persistent cold winter winds and looked nearly dead, have recently sprouted new leaves and seem on their way to a full recovery.  These hollies remind me of the amazing resilience that many children unveil in the face of overwhelmingly adverse experiences (e.g., chronic poverty, physical or sexual abuse, severe neglect, domestic violence) that crush some children, but trigger adaptation in others.

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Tags: parent-child relationship, resilience, executive function

Research: Triple P, Disabilities, Parent Assessments & Prevention

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 05:25 PM

Did you know that children with disabilities are reported at nearly 2 times greater risk of child maltreatment than typically developing children?  Some studies indicate that children with emotional or behavior problems are at elevated risk.  Estimates of the prevalence of children 0-5 years with serious emotional/ behavioral disorders in the U.S. range from 9% to 14%.  Challenging behaviors that can have negative ripple effects on the child, family and community by disrupting parent-child relationships, increasing parental stress, isolating families and sometimes triggering child maltreatment.  Unfortunately, government -sponsored early intervention programs often don’t use evidence-based intervention programs to prevent or address these challenging behaviors.  Although research on several family-centered behavioral intervention modelshas shown positive impacts on young children with challenging behaviors and their parents, there’s a gap between research and practice in most communities.

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Tags: parent-child relationship, protective factors, Triple P, Stepping Stones, disabilities