KIPS TIPS Sept 2012: Evidence You Can Use: Parenting Counts for Children!

James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics at the University of Chicago, is a great friend to all of us because of his research and advocacy with foundations, government, and business communities. He proved that smart investment in early childhood developmentespecially for children living in disadvantaged situations, produces the highest returns to individuals and society in better education, health, economic and social outcomes.  In other words, 

Assessing Outcomes


Heckman explains, invest in prevention, so children and adults won't need remediation.

"The proper measure of child adversity is the quality of parenting-not the traditional measures of family income or parental education, although they are correlated with the quality of parenting....

The scarce resource is love and parenting-not money." "The simple fact is that children from disadvantaged environments typically have not received the massive doses of early enrichment that children from middle-class and upper-class families have.". . .

To learn more, see Promoting Social Mobility Hearing that quality parenting and love are scarce for children can be depressing.  But it is actually good news, because research shows quality programs improve parenting. For an excellent review, see Home Visitation: Assessing Progress, Managing Expectations.   


Shout Out to Your Communities

Tell Your Funders!

Investment in programs working with young children and families saves taxpayers money, and produces more capable and productive citizens.

Heckman has some great talking points you can use in your funding proposals.

See The Heckman Equation


While you're in shout out mode, read on. . .

Nurturing parenting impacts long-term health and well-being.

Jack Shonkoff and colleagues at the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University work tirelessly to demystify the science of health, learning and behavior to the general community. They explain, "early experiences are built into our bodies, creating biological 'memories' that shape development, for better or for worse." Research proves that early experiences and environment work together prenatally through early childhood to build or disrupt the foundations of lifelong health and well-being. "Positive stress", such as falling and skinning a knee, happens every day.  With the support of a nurturing parent, this kind of stress helps children learn coping strategies. But "toxic stress" such as extreme poverty, domestic violence, or persistent emotional abuse, can impair children's brain development and have lifelong negative impacts. To learn more, see 

Assessing Parenting
Image courtesy of phanlop88/
AdverseChildhood Experiences.



However, a secure early relationship with a sensitive caregiver can prevent harm and develop a child's resilience to stress.


To learn more, see Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain 

How can we help families strengthen the foundations for lifelong health and well-being?

  • Build Stable, Responsive Relationships
  • Create Safe, Supportive Environments
  • Practice Appropriate Nutrition


Building parents' knowledge of parenting and strengthening parent-child relationships through consistent nurturing responses attuned to each child's needs act as protective factors to shield children against the impact of toxic stressFor infants and toddlers, and even prenatally, these positive early experiences in safe environments trigger brain and body adaptations that protect their life outcomes in health, learning and social interactions.  To learn more, see In Brief:The Foundations of Lifelong Health.

This research shows that investing in families with young children has major impacts now and in the future. Responsive parenting builds stable, safe and nurturing relationships that produce healthy lifelong outcomes for our most precious resource, our children and grandchildren who are our future. Using an observational parenting assessment tool, like KIPS, allows you to prove that your program improves parenting. Combining your own outcome data showing increases in parenting quality and responsive relationships with this research  makes a powerful argument for funding the great work you do.



Check out at our new KIPS Cradle Blog on our website.   Be sure to add your comments to the posts.  We are eager to include guest blog posts too.  If you have something you'd like to share, please write 

Conference Workshops in Oct, Nov, Dec!

Marilee Comfort will present a KIPS overview on a panel session, Taking a Look Inside the Tool Box: Getting the Most from Your Measures at the Prevent Child Abuse America Conference (Oct 2012, Jacksonville, FL). Learn how KIPS, the Healthy Families Parenting Inventory and the Protective Factors Survey are best used in your programs.

Marilee and Phil will co-present KIPS: A Parenting Assessment That Helps You Help Parents at the Pennsylvania Association for Infant Mental Health Conference (Oct 2012, Pittsburgh, PA).  Come learn or share your experiences with KIPS.

Phil Gordon will offer a workshop, Giving Feedback to Staff and Parents So It Can Be Accepted and Used, at the Parents as Teachers Conference (Nov 2012, St. Louis) and Zero to Three's National Training Institute (Dec 2012, Los Angeles). Email your successes or challenges in giving feedback to Then come to the workshop to explore 7 Practical Tips for Supervisors and Staff to use to give feedback that is received and put into practice. After piloting the workshop in NJ, we plan to offer a Feedback Workshop for KIPSters as an online course next year.

Angela Rau (PAT Trainer) and Marilee Comfort will team up to present a workshop at the Parents as Teachers Conference (Nov 2012, St. Louis) on Planning for Parent Reflection: Making the Most of Assessment Tools and Resources. In other words, linking KIPS results with services that addressparents' strengths and areas for growth. 

Help Build the KIPSter Community! 

We have a page on the Comfort Consults website that listsReports and Publications using KIPS.  We'd like to add your program's information to this collection, so others in the KIPS Community can learn from you. If interested in this opportunity, please contact

We are eager to support programs in presenting their experience with KIPS at conferences or in publications. Let us know at if you'd like support in developing a presentation.  

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/