Jaipaul Lalla Roopnarine

Ph.D.
Professor
Pearl S. Falk Endowed Professor

Dr. Roopnarine is the Pearl S. Falk Professor of Human Development and Family Science.  He is  research scientist at the Family Development Centre at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

He served as a consultant to the Roving Caregiver Program, a home-based intervention program implemented in several Caribbean countries to improve the early caregiving environments of young children, and assisted in the revision of the national early childhood curriculum for the government of Guyana.  He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago and also an Indo-U.S.-Subcommission professor of psychology at the University of Delhi, India, minority scholar in residence at The Pennsylvania State University, and held visiting appointments at the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, The City University of New York, and The University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

Education

Ph.D., Child Development, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin (1980)

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin (1975)

Research Focus

Father-child relationships across cultures, Caribbean families and childhood outcomes, early childhood education in international perspective, children’s play across cultures, immigrant families and schooling in the U.S.

Research Projects

Paternal and Maternal Cognitive and Social Engagement in Caribbean and African Countries: Links to Preschoolers Literacy and Social Skills

There has been increasing attempts to discern culture-specific from pan-cultural processes and outcomes in human development. In an attempt to further examine cultural developmental pathways to childhood development, we tapped into the UNICEF MICS to determine links between fathers’ and mothers’ engagement in social and cognitive activities and preschoolers’ early literacy and social skills in six Caribbean and eighteen African countries. In the first set of analyses, we found inconsistent patterns of associations between mothers’ and fathers’ cognitive and social engagement and preschoolers’ cognitive and social skills across Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Suriname. Preschool enrollment, literacy materials in the home, and material wealth were the most consistent predictors of children’s early literacy skills across countries. These results underline the importance of access to early education and literacy materials in the home for early childhood development in developing countries. Reading to children rather than play and storytelling were associated with children’s early literacy skills across some countries. We are currently analyzing data on the African families and children.

Depressive Symptoms in Fathers and Interpersonal Violence and Children’s Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors

Depressive symptoms and interpersonal violence perpetrated by men have negative effects on children’s social and cognitive functioning. With funding from the Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services, Elif Dede Yildirim (former doctoral student and now Assistant Professor at Auburn University) and I assessed (a) the impact of relationships skills education on depressive symptoms in fathers and (b) the associations between depressive symptoms in fathers and interpersonal violence and childhood outcomes via paternal warmth and avoidance of destructive conflict behaviors. Utilizing data from the eight site Building Strong Families (BSF) intervention program, we were able to demonstrate that relationship skills education led to decreases in depressive symptoms in fathers over time and that avoidance of destructive conflict behavior mediated the association between interpersonal violence and children’s externalizing behavior for those who received relationship skills education. The links between interpersonal violence and children’s behavioral difficulties were more direct for noncompliers of the intervention and control group fathers.

Courses

CFS 467/667 - Child and Family in Cross-Cultural Perspectives