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Talks at Twelve: Marianella Casasola, Thursday, December 10, 2015

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Marianella Casasola, Professor in Human Development, portrait picture.

Spatial Language and Spatial Play in the Early Development of Spatial Skills
Marianella Casasola, Human Development

Thursday, December 10, 2015
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except fo groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

Spatial skills contribute to a number of important abilities—navigation, building from instructions, or imagining an object’s appearance from a different angle. In a one-month study, Dr. Casasola found that providing spatial language as preschool children engaged in constructive play (e.g., building with blocks) yielded greater gains in their spatial skills than constructive play alone. In a Head Start training study, she found that constructive play provided a better context for acquiring spatial language than other play activities (e.g., arts and crafts, book reading). These findings point to a synergistic relation between spatial language and constructive play in the development of young children’s spatial skills and suggest an accessible, cost-effective approach to promoting spatial skills and spatial language in preschool children.

Marianella Casasola is an associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology. She received her Ph.D. (2000) and M.A. (1995) from the University of Texas at Austin, and her B.A. (1992) from the University of California at Berkeley. She has been associate editor of Developmental Psychology since 2012 and a board member of the Cognitive Development Society since 2013. Casasola’s talk reports on work done as a BCTR Pilot Study Grant recipient. She is also a current BCTR Fellow, one of three in the program’s inaugural year.

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US parents continue to use spanking despite the evidence against it

(0) Comments  |   Tags: children,   Kimberly Kopko,   media mention,   parenting,   Parenting in Context,  


Kimberly Kopko

The majority of American parents still use spanking to discipline their children despite overwhelming evidence that it is ineffective and detrimental. In practice, research findings are often no match for cultural norms and closely-held beliefs about the physical punishment of children. Kimberly Kopko, director of the BCTR's Parenting in Context Initiative, comments on the subject in a recent article. The specific case she refers to below involves a Liberian native living in the US who "hot peppered" his two young sons (details in the full article, link below).

"There has to be appreciation and understanding of culture, but if you're harming a child, you're harming a child," said Dr. Kimberly Kopko, who runs Cornell University's Parenting in Context initiative.

As for cultural norms, Dr. Kopko said, "I do appreciate and understand the cultural issues around those sorts of things, however, you're talking about a Liberian family that was living in the U.S. If that family was living in Sweden, it would likewise not be legal."

Sweden banned spanking in 1979, and 45 nations have since followed suit, most of them in Europe and South America.

America's a different story, though.

"We're very individualistic and private, and so we're not run like a European country where a lot of this is more out in the open," Dr. Kopko said. "I think many Americans take the view of, 'What happens in my home is my business, it's not yours.'"

On a policy level, authorities here are more reluctant to step in and tell parents how to parent, she said.

"I'm persuaded by data, and the data has consistently told us, consistently, that spanking is not good," she said. "Now research versus personal belief? You can line up a thousand research studies in front of some parents who believe that spanking is good, and they're still going to believe spanking is good."

The Parenting in Context Initiative provides research-based resources for parent educators and develops new curricula to enhance existing programs. They also provide training and tools useful in evaluating parenting programs. Their web site has some resources intended directly for parents, including Parent Pages, which summarize the latest research, and information on parenting programs in New York State.


Spank or not to spank? Child endangerment arrests stir debate -

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Revisiting Urie’s role as Head Start turns 50

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Lady Bird Johnson at an early Head Start event

Lady Bird Johnson at an early Head Start event

A recent Cornell Chronicle article on Urie Bronfenbrenner's involvement in the founding of the National Head Start Program begins,

Testifying before Congress in 1964, Cornell developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner urged lawmakers to fight “poverty where it hits first and most damagingly – in early childhood.”Intrigued by his work, Lady Bird Johnson invited Bronfenbrenner to tea at the White House, where he shared his findings on early childhood programs he had observed abroad. In January 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, Sargent Shriver empaneled 13 experts – including Bronfenbrenner – to develop a federally funded preschool program for the nation’s poorest children.

Urie BronfenbrennerThe article goes on to detail Urie's unique contributions to the formation of the influential program:

Among Head Start’s architects, Bronfenbrenner stood out for his dynamic systems theory of human development – which became synonymous with the field of human ecology and inspired the renaming of Cornell’s College of Human Ecology in 1969. A champion of field-based observations in children’s homes, schools and neighborhoods, Bronfenbrenner upended the conventions of mid-20th century developmental psychology, which had taken a decontextualized, sterilized approach.

For Bronfenbrenner, it wasn’t enough to look narrowly at children. To understand the effect of a mother’s employment on a child’s development, for example, he urged investigators to consider the child’s age, the quality of daycare in the mother’s absence, her attitude toward her work, the family’s race and income level and the father’s employment status and attitude toward his partner’s work and family duties.


50 years later, recalling a founder of Head Start - Cornell Chronicle

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Talks at Twelve: Christopher Wildeman

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Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality
Tuesday, January 27, 2014

Christopher Wildeman
Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University

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2015 Doris Lecture: Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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Implementation Research in State Systems for Children with Behavioral Health Needs
Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood, New York University

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
12:00 PM
Nevin Welcome Center, The Plantations

Dissemination-Implementation science has emerged over the past decade replete with conceptual models and studies of barriers to the successful implementation of evidence-based programs. This work has been of limited usefulness to state systems that are undergoing massive changes due to changes in the healthcare system. These changes target accountability, costs, and outcomes of state services. In the rush by state health and mental health authorities to accommodate these changes, services for children and adolescents are being largely overlooked. Yet ironically the most direct way to address system problems is through redesign of prevention and intervention services for children. This entails closing the gap between evidence-based care and its implementation in real world settings. A body of research is emerging that identifies system-level, organizational-level, and individual-level (child and family) interventions that can dramatically improve services and outcomes for children and adolescents. Approaches include evidence-based framing, strategic collaborative interventions, quality metrics, and data driven feedback systems. In her talk, Dr. Kimberly Hoagwood will provide examples of each and recommend a research agenda to accelerate practical progress.

Kimberly Hoagwood is Cathy and Stephen Graham Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. She is Director and Principal Investigator of an Advanced Center on Implementation and Dissemination Science in States for Children and Families, located at New York University and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (P30 MH090322), called The IDEAS Center. She co-directs the Clinic Technical Assistance Center with Dr. Mary McKay, funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Previously Kimberly was Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University, specializing in children’s mental health services research. She also works with the division of Children, Youth and Families at the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) as a Research Scientist. Before coming to New York, she was Associate Director for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and oversaw the portfolio of research on child and adolescent mental health, from basic to applied studies. This gave her a broad perspective on research gaps and on ways to connect different areas of science through interdisciplinary theory and methods. She served as the Scientific Editor for the Office of the Surgeon General’s National Action Agenda on Children’s Mental Health with Dr. David Satcher.

Kimberly is Principal Investigator on several other major grants and subcontracts, all focused on improving the quality of services for children and families. Her special emphasis is on parent activation in children’s health services, as well as the organizational and policy contexts for children’s mental health services.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: children    health    John Doris Memorial Lecture   

Talks at Twelve: Christopher Wildeman, Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality
Christopher Wildeman, Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall.

In this talk, Christopher Wildeman will provide evidence supporting three claims: 1) that parental imprisonment has been transformed from an event affecting only the unluckiest of children to one that is remarkably common, especially for black children. 2) that even for already-marginalized children, paternal incarceration makes a bad situation worse, increasing mental health and behavioral problems, infant mortality, and child homelessness. 3) that these harms to children translate into large-scale increases in racial inequalities—even larger, in fact, than the consequences of mass imprisonment for racial inequality among adult men. Parental imprisonment has thus become a distinctively American way of perpetuating inter-generational inequality, one that should be placed alongside a decaying public education system and concentrated disadvantage in urban centers as a factor that disproportionately touches, and damages, poor black children.

Christopher Wildeman is an Associate Professor of Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, a faculty fellow at the BCTR, the Center for the Study of Inequality (CSI), Court-Kay-Bauer Hall, the Cornell Population Center (CPC), and since 2013, a Visiting Fellow at the Bureau of Justice Statistics in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining Cornell’s faculty in 2014, Christopher was at Yale University as an Associate Professor of Sociology, a faculty fellow at both the Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course (CIQLE) and the Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS), as well as the co-director of the New Haven Branch of the Scholars Strategy Network (SSN). He received his Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography from Princeton University in 2008. From 2008-2010, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar and postdoctoral affiliate in the Population Studies Center (PSC) at the University of Michigan. His research and teaching interests revolve around the consequences of mass imprisonment for inequality, with emphasis on families, health, and children -- especially as related to child maltreatment and the foster care system. He is the 2013 recipient of the Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology.

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Income inequality linked to higher rates of child abuse and neglect

(0) Comments  |   Tags: child abuse,   children,   Elliott Smith,   inequality,   John Eckenrode,   margaret mccarthy,   media mention,   michael dineen,   poverty,  



BCTR director John Eckenrode is lead author of a new article, Income Inequality and Child Maltreatment in the United States, published in February in the journal Pediatrics. Eckenrode, who also serves as director of the BCTR's National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN), co-authored the article with NDACAN researchers Elliott Smith, Margaret McCarthy, and Michael Dineen. The article reports findings from a study comparing substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect with nationwide county-level data on income equality and poverty, covering 3,142 U.S. counties. The study concluded,

Higher income inequality across US counties was significantly associated with higher county-level rates of child maltreatment. The findings contribute to the growing literature linking greater income inequality to a range of poor health and well-being outcomes in infants and children.

In a Cornell Chronicle article on the findings, Eckenrode is quoted, saying,

... reducing poverty and inequality would be the single most effective way to prevent maltreatment of children, but in addition there are proven programs that work to support parents and children and help to reduce the chances of abuse and neglect – clearly a multifaceted strategy is needed.

Support for the study came from the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Income inequality and child maltreatment in the United States - Pediatrics
Child abuse and neglect rise with income inequality - Cornell Chronicle
Child abuse rises with income inequality, Cornell study shows - Ithaca Journal
More kids struggle where the income gap widens - Christian Science Monitor
Rising child abuse linked to rising income inequality, study reports - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Kids may suffer in gaps between haves and have-nots - Reuters

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RCCP receives Duke Foundation funds to study CARE Model

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The Duke Endowment of Charlotte, NC has granted a sixth-year funding allocation to the Residential Child Care Project (RCCP) through to January 31, 2015. The funding allows the RCCP to gather and analyze longer-term data in their quasi-experimental field study of the Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) Model in North Carolina. The results of the study will be submitted to the California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare for consideration as a Promising Practice.

The CARE model is a research-informed, principle-based, multi-component program designed to build the capacity of residential care and treatment organizations to serve the best interests of the children. The research-informed CARE principles support a theory of change (TOC) which outlines the causal pathways by which CARE is expected to improve socio-emotional and developmental outcomes for children (Holden, 2009; Holden, Izzo, Nunno, Smith, Endres, Holden, & Kuhn, 2010). This TOC lays the foundation for quality therapeutic residential care and provides a working model to guide agency planning and evaluation. The principles are applied throughout the organization to inform adult-to-adult interactions and adult-to-child interactions, guide data-informed decision-making, and set priorities for serving the best interests of the children. By incorporating the principles throughout all levels of the organization and into daily practice, an organizational culture is developed to help sustain the implementation of the principles.

(1) Comment.  |   Tags: children    RCCP    residential care   

Evidence on child well-being across the globe

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"Ensuring children grow up to be healthy, productive and fulfilled adults are major goals of every society. Children across the world today face complex risks and challenges including the wide availability of unhealthy foods, the prevalence of bullying and increases in drug and alcohol abuse."

Read the rest of this post on the Evidence-Based Living blog:

Evidence on child well-being across the globe

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Holden advises Australian Children’s Commissioner

(0) Comments  |   Tags: Australia,   CARE,   childhood,   children,   international,   Martha Holden,   RCCP,   residential care,  

holdenIn March Martha Holden (Director of the Residential Child Care Project) traveled to the Northern Territory, Australia at the invitation of Howard Bath, the Children's Commissioner of the region. The Children's Commissioner, whose core function is to ensure the well-being of vulnerable children, is working to overcome disadvantages that Indigenous children and families face and improve their quality of life. Currently there are a large number of Indigenous children placed in out-of-home care. Residential programs (mainly smaller group homes) have grown rapidly in response to demand, but with little theoretical coherence or regulation. The current departmental administrators are well aware of this issue and are seeking to chart a new course. Holden's visit was seen by administrators as an opportunity to gain information on theory, structure, monitoring, and quality care that will shape their thinking and planning.

Additionally, youth services and residential care staff and professionals attended Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) Seminars presented by Holden in Alice Springs and Darwin. The attendees were introduced to the CARE therapeutic care model and its six key principles of being:

  • developmentally-focused
  • family-involved
  • relationship-based
  • competence-centered
  • trauma-informed
  • ecologically-orientated


(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Australia    CARE    childhood    children    international    Martha Holden    RCCP    residential care