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Parent educators and faculty review latest parenting research

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Dinah Castro, Maxine Cohen, Kerri Reda, and Tim Jahn in conversation at the in-service.

The annual Parenting in Context in-service event brings together Cornell researchers with New York State parent educators and others who work with families and youth for networking, professional development workshops, and presentations.

The 2015 in-service, held September 16-17, featured presentations on topics such as parenting in the digital age, custodial grandparent families, cognitive development in social context, positive discipline strategies, and adolescent well-being amidst family instability. Presenters included Rachel Dunifon and Laura Tach from policy analysis and management, Michael Goldstein from psychology, Chris Watkins, director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, local school social worker Melissa Enns, and Parenting In Context staff Kimberly Kopko and Eliza Cook.

Participants came from 9 counties across New York State and left the following feedback on the event:

The updates and research presentations are always thought-provoking and reinforce our connection to the university. It is so important to those of us in the field.

It was very helpful to better understand the environment and dynamics of niche families--grandfamilies and fragile families. Presentations being research-based reminded me of its importance.


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US parents continue to use spanking despite the evidence against it

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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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Fall 2014 Talks at Twelve speakers announced

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The center is pleased to announce the fall speakers in our Talks at Twelve series. All Talks at Twelve are held in the Beebe Hall second floor conference room and lunch is served. These talks are free and open to all.

Thursday, August 21
Relatives Raising Youth Project: An Example of Translational Research in Parenting Education
Kimberly Kopko, Parenting in Context Initiative, BCTR, Cornell University

Wednesday, September 10, 12:00-1:30pm
More Body Projects
Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Cornell University

Thursday, October 23, 12:00-1:00pm
Resident-to-Resident Elder Mistreatment in Nursing Homes: Findings from the First Prevalence Study
Karl Pillemer, Human Development and BCTR, Cornell University

Tuesday, October 28, 12:00-1:00pm
Latino Children and White Out-Migration from New Gateway School Districts
Matthew Hall, Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University

Thursday, November 13, 12:00-1:00pm
Promoting Sexual Health Including HIV and AIDS Education in School-based Programs though Community Partnerships
Ravhee Bholah, School of Science and Mathematics, Mauritius Institute of Education

Thursday, December 11, 12:00-1:00pm
Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality
Christopher Wildeman, Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University

Tuesday, December 16, 12:00-1:00pm
Helping Parents Help Their Teens: Lessons Learned about Parent Stress and Support from Research on Self-injury and Families
Janis Whitlock, Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

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New article: “Grandparent Coresidence and Family Well-Being”


Rachel Dunifon and Kimberly Kopko

Rachel Dunifon and Kimberly Kopko

The BCTR's Rachel Dunifon and Kimberly Kopko (with Kathleen Ziol-Guest) authored a new article that looks at the effects of grandparents living with families. Grandparent Coresidence and Family Well-Being was published in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science this summer.

U.S. children today have increasingly diverse living arrangements. In 2012, 10 percent of children lived with at least one grandparent; 8 percent lived in three-generational households, consisting of a parent and a grandparent; while 2 percent lived with a grandparent and no parent in the household. This article reviews the literature on grandparent coresidence and presents new research on children coresiding with grandparents in modern families. Findings suggest that grandparent coresidence is quite common and that its prevalence increased during the Great Recession. Additionally, these living arrangements are diverse themselves, varying by the marital status of the parent, the home in which the family lives, and the economic well-being of the family. Suggestions for future research are also proposed.

Grandparent Coresidence and Family Well-Being


Talks at Twelve: Kimberly Kopko, Thursday, August 21, 2014

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The Relatives Raising Youth Project: An Example of Translational Research in Parenting Education
Kimberly Kopko, BCTR

Thursday, August 21, 2014
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

The Relatives Raising Youth Project is jointly directed by Kimberly Kopko and Rachel Dunifon under the BCTR’s larger umbrella project, The Role of Grandparents in the Lives of Adolescent Grandchildren. Relatives Raising Youth incorporates research and extension activities in the area of relative care, specifically, grandparents raising their teenaged grandchildren. The goals of this research are

  • to provide greater insight into New York families in which grandparents are raising grandchildren
  • to use the results of this research to produce new resources for educators who work with the families, as well as the families themselves

Numerous translational materials were produced from their research, including research briefs, Parent Pages and stand-alone educational modules that specifically address parenting teens. These resources are for use by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and community educators to inform their work with grandparents raising their grandchildren. In her talk, Kim will discuss the process of working with CCE educators and agency leaders in collecting data for this project as well as findings related to relationship quality and parenting among grandparent caregivers and the teenage grandchildren that they are raising.


Kimberly Kopko received her Ph.D. in Child Development from the Department of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University in May 2005 and joined the Department of Policy Analysis & Management in 2007 after spending a year as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Ithaca College. Her research and extension interests include parenting and adolescent development. Current research activities focus on examining the well-being of youth (aged 12-18) being raised by a grandparent, specifically, the nature and quality of the relationship between youth and their custodial grandparents, family processes, family communication, and parenting profiles of grandparent caregivers.

Rachel Dunifon is a Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management. She is also Associate Director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and PAM Extension Leader. She received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University in 1999 and joined the department in 2001, after spending two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan's Poverty Research and Training Center. Her research focuses on child and family policy.

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What we know about custodial grandparents

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"About 2 percent of children in the U.S. are being raised by their grandparents with no parent living in the home, according to the U.S. Census bureau. But what do we know about these families? And do grandparents face any particular parenting challenges that differ from more traditional households?

"Researchers at the College of Human Ecology and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research are experts in these complex relationships."

Read more on the BCTR's Evidence-Based Living blog:

What we know about custodial grandparents

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BCTR at SUNY Day 2013

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Kimberly Kopko

On February 11th, 2013, Cornell Cooperative Extension/College of Human Ecology student summer interns, along with Kimberly Kopko, from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, attended SUNY (State University of New York) Day 2013 in the Legislative Office Building in Albany, New York. The theme of SUNY Day 2013 was experiential education, showcasing the benefits of co-ops, internships, service-learning, volunteerism, clinical preparation, research, and entrepreneurial work. The event enabled campuses to display recent activities and programs that exemplify experiential learning to state legislative leaders.

Lydia Gill and Robert Neff, students in the College of Human Ecology, displayed their summer 2012 internship projects at the event. Lydia’s project presented the PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) Partnership Model in New York State. John Eckenrode, Ph.D., served as faculty sponsor for the PROSPER summer internship. The focus of Robert’s project was research for continuous improvement of 4-H in New York State. Stephen Hamilton, Ph.D. supervised the 4-H summer internship project.

The Cornell Office of Government Relations in Albany arranged meetings with legislators for participating Cornell staff and students. Lydia Gill and Kimberly Kopko met with Senator Thomas O'Mara's staff. Senator O'Mara represents Schuyler County, one of the PROSPER pilot counties where Lydia'a project was focused (the other pilot site is Livingston County). Robert Neff met with Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, who represents Kenmore County, where Robert lives. Kimberly, Lydia, and Robert met with Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and her staff. Assemblywoman Lupardo chairs the Assembly Children & Family Services committee. In addition to these meetings with legislators, the group also met with staff from the Farm Bureau.


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Fifty parent educators attend the 2013 Parenting in Context In-Service event

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CCE parent educator Denyse Variano of Orange County

Approximately 50 Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) parent educators from across New York State gathered in Ithaca for the 2013 Parent Education In-Service. The annual event is sponsored by the Parenting in Context Initiative in the College of Human Ecology and was held on the Cornell University campus on January 14th and 15th, 2013. The In-Service provides parent educators with professional development opportunities including presentations on the latest research on parenting and families as well as the latest evidence on effective parenting programs from Cornell professors and Senior Extension Associates. The event also provides a forum for educators to communicate their knowledge from the field back to the researchers.

Presenters included Kelly Musick, Jennifer Tiffany, Rachel Dunifon, Kimberly Kopko, and Lisa McCabe.

Presentations provided information on translational research and updates on the Parenting In Context project and also highlighted CCE innovative parent education programs for teen parents as well as a Facilitator Training Workshop.

Rachel Dunifon

Parenting in Context researchers, led by Rachel Dunifon, associate professor of policy analysis and management and director of Parenting in Context and Senior Extension Associate Kimberly Kopko, Co-Director of the Project, also presented the results of their annual assessment of CCE parent education programs statewide. Nearly 800 New Yorkers across 11 counties participated in 22 different programs in 2011-12, with many of them reporting, via program evaluations, significant improvements in their parenting skills.

Prior to the In-Service event, the Parenting Education Program Work Team (PWT) held their biannual meeting. The Parenting Education PWT was initiated in March 2004 with the primary goal of fostering communication among parenting educators, as well as providing support and resources to educators throughout New York State. Faculty presenters shared information about new research projects and opportunities for parent educator involvement as well as a panel presentation, Strengthening Campus-County Connections: New Projects and Examples of Past (and Ongoing) Successes, that featured a number of faculty discussing the ways in which they connect their research with parent educators and families in their respective communities.

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Talk: The Parenting in Context Initiative: Advancing the Integration of Extension and Translational Research Activities Statewide, Thursday, December 13, 2012

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The Parenting in Context Initiative: Advancing the Integration of Extension and Translational Research Activities Statewide
Rachel Dunifon & Kimberly Kopko, BCTR

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

The Parenting in Context Project integrates research and extension activities in the area of parenting, provides university-level support and assistance to parenting educators in their work with families across New York State, and facilitates the development of new methods of promoting positive parenting behaviors among a wide range of caregivers and across a variety of contexts.

Since 2003 the Project has introduced new research- and evidence-based curricula, offered multiple professional development opportunities, and brought together Cornell faculty and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators. Recent activities focus on integrating parenting education efforts with translational and youth development efforts, thereby having the potential to impact a greater number of families and youth.

This presentation will provide an overview of the Parenting In Context Project, including available resources, statewide date collection efforts, integration of parent education and translational research, and discussion of areas for potential collaboration between parent education and youth development programming and initiatives.

Rachel Dunifon is the Associate Director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. She received her PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University in 1999. She joined Cornell in 2001, after completing a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. Rachel’s research focuses on the well-being of children, and how public policies and family living arrangements influence child well-being. She has a particular interest in the role of parenting behaviors in accounting for the associations between policies, family structure, and child well-being. In one recent article, she examined whether parental behaviors account for the influence of single-parenthood and cohabitation on children. In another, she tested whether mothers’ movement from welfare to work influences parenting. Dr. Dunifon is also examining how welfare reform has affected parental monitoring of children, warmth toward children, and the provision of cognitively stimulating activities for children; and how the neighborhoods in which children live influence their parents’ behaviors.

Kimberly Kopko is an Affiliate in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. She received her Ph.D. in Child Development from the Department of Human Development at Cornell University in May 2005 and joined the Department of Policy Analysis & Management in 2007 after spending a year as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Ithaca College. Her research and extension interests examine parenting and child development outcomes. Specific research and extension interests include: developmental outcomes of affluent youth; socioeconomic status, parenting, and child development; developmental issues related to divorce and custody; the impact of children's extracurricular activity involvement on families; and parenting and adolescent development.



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PROSPER Partnership Network training at the BCTR

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John Eckenrode (PI; NY PROSPER Demo. Project) , Sarah Chilenski (Evaluation Coordinator; PROSPER National Network), Melissa Tomascik (PA Prevention Coordinator and State Coach; Penn State), Eugenia Hamilton (PROSPER National Network; Iowa State), Kim Kopko (NY PROSPER State Liaison), Deinera Exner-Cortens (NY PROSPER Evaluation Coordinator), Richard Spoth (PROSPER National Network; Iowa State); Jennifer Tiffany (NY PROSPER State Extension System Rep.)

The Unit 1 Training for the PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) Partnership Model was held at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) on May 16 & 17, 2012. PROSPER works through the Cooperative Extension system to implement and sustain high-quality evidence-based programming designed to prevent risky behaviors in youth, promote positive youth development, and strengthen families. The training was an orientation to the various phases of the PROSPER Model, defined the State Management Team, Prevention Coordinator, and Team Leader roles, and defined next steps for implementation of the PROSPER Partnership Model in New York State.

The PROSPER Unit 1 Training was conducted by the National PROSPER Partnership Network and attended by National Network faculty and staff from Iowa State and Pennsylvania State Universities, Cornell University faculty and staff, Cornell Cooperative Extension educators from four counties, as well as graduate and undergraduate students involved in the PROSPER Partnership Model.

Deinera Exner-Cortens, John Eckenrode, and Kim Kopko at the training

New York’s initial involvement with the PROSPER Partnership Network began in March of 2010 with the participation of the BCTR and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in the Grand Opportunities (GO) Project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cornell was selected for the GO Project because the center and the extension system scored high on a number of key readiness indicators for adoption of the PROSPER Partnership Model.

Two counties in New York—Livingston and Schuyler—have been selected to begin implementation of the PROSPER Partnership Model. Donna Horton from Livingston County and Melissa Schroeder from Schuyler County will serve as Team Leaders for the Community Teams in their respective counties. Anna Steinkraus from Tompkins County has been selected for the role of Prevention Coordinator. The Prevention Coordinator serves as a Community Team’s “coach,” providing ongoing proactive technical assistance and functioning as liaison between the Team Leaders in the counties and the State Management Team at Cornell University. The State Management Team is led by John Eckenrode and consists of research faculty, extension staff and administrators, an evaluation coordinator, and liaisons to the national PROSPER Network. Kim Kopko will serve as the State Coordinator for the PROSPER project.


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