Young children who experience early maltreatment often adapt behaviorally and physiologically in ways that are challenging to their caregivers. Children's coping strategies make it especially difficult for already vulnerable parents to provide adequate caregiving. Their parents need help in developing skills such that they can provide adequate care. In addition, they often need help managing a host of other challenges, including mental health problems, substance abuse, and other basic needs. This study will test the effectiveness of an intervention for birth parents of maltreated children in the context of supportive community services. This intervention targets several key needs identified as critical. First, parents are helped to re-interpret children's behavioral signals. Second, parents are taught to """"""""over-ride"""""""" their own propensities to respond in inconsistent or rejecting ways to children. Third, parents are helped to behave in ways that are not frightening to their children. Finally, parents are helped to provide an interpersonally responsive environment, which helps children develop regulatory capabilities. Parents will be randomly assigned to receive the experimental intervention or receive an alternative treatment. Parents in both groups will receive support services that help them access mental health and substance abuse treatment, and other services as needed. Outcomes will include assessments of parenting behaviors, as well as assessments of child behavioral, emotional, and neuroendocrine functioning. In post-intervention assessments, parents receiving the experimental intervention are expected to be more nurturing, sensitive, and less frightening to children than control group parents. Children of experimental group parents are expected to show better behavioral and biobehavioral regulation than children of control group parents.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Services Research Review Committee (SRV)
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Sherrill, Joel
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University of Delaware
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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