Deborah Sellers (Cornell University) PI and Yvonne Smith (SWK) co-I, Enriching Relational Environments as a Critical Pathway for Healing from Trauma: Helping Adults Use Purposeful Interactions and Build Developmental Relationships with Children in Out of Home Care
NICHD Award #: 1R01HD109329-01
Most U.S. children living in out of home care (OOHC) have significant impairments in emotional and behavioral regulation, and the success of their treatment depends on caregivers’ capacity to provide developmentally enriching, therapeutic care. The adults who care for these children during the critical hours outside of formal therapies play central roles in their treatment. Yet, OOHC caregivers receive little education about how to meet their unique relational needs and often lack understanding of their role in each child’s rehabilitation.
This study seeks to develop and evaluate a training curriculum though which caregivers observe and practice specific forms of developmental interactions and create opportunities to increase their frequency during daily care. Using an innovative mixed-methods evaluation of implementation in four agencies—including staff and child surveys, interviews, and ethnographic analysis—we seek to understand the extent to which: 1) The curriculum increases caregivers’ capability, motivation, and purpose in engaging in developmental interactions, and (2) Caregivers and children perceive a greater prevalence of these interactions during routine care. We will also identify individual, organizational, and implementation-related factors related to uptake. Associate Professor Yvonne Smith leads the ethnographic arm of the study.