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The Parenting Research Projects

University of Miami Research Site
University of California at Los Angeles Research Site

The early years of life (birth to age 5) are crucial for cognitive and social/emotional development. Parents play a critical role in their children's development and are responsible for their children's environment. Children develop within the context of their family and their development is affected by the nature of the relationship with their parents. Previous early intervention efforts have typically included early education for children in child care centers and social or mental health services for the parents in their role as adults, with only marginal attention devoted to parenting behavior. The interventions initiated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) focus on parenting behaviors and the relationship of the parent with his or her own child.

Through its Child Development Studies Section, CDC has initiated Legacy for Children™, a set of randomized, controlled, longitudinal research projects. Legacy for Children™ will examine the potential for improvement in child developmental outcomes through programs designed to influence parenting behavior. The first two research sites are located at the University of Miami and the University of California at Los Angeles.

Research Questions: The primary research question for Legacy for Children™ is: Do children in the intervention groups achieve better developmental outcomes than do the children in the comparison groups? There are five related research questions:

  1. Do parents become engaged in the intervention program?

  2. Do parents adopt parenting behaviors that are more likely to foster child development?

  3. Does one project have a greater effect than the other project.

  4. Do parents in the intervention program develop a greater sense of community?

  5. What are the costs of delivering the intervention and do the potential benefits outweigh the costs?

Target Population: The participating families are those whose children, on average, would be expected to fall below national norms on a range of developmental variables. Each project will enroll 120 children in the intervention group and 120 children in the comparison group.

The Intervention: A variety of intervention activities in multiple settings will be offered to parents in the intervention group for a period of 3 to 5 years beginning at their children's birth. The activities will be intense and sustained. They will include parent and parent/child group meetings, visits to the home, and participation in community events and activities.

The intervention program aims to promote parents' belief that their behavior towards their child can make a difference in short- and long-term developmental outcomes. We hypothesize that parents will do a better job of adopting and maintaining preferred parenting behaviors if they receive support for these behaviors from a peer group and have a sense of belonging to a community larger than themselves.

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen


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