In this revised Phase II, the project will develop and evaluate a set of five online training workshops designed to help foster-adoptive and kinship parents safely and empathically understand and reduce externalized behavior problems of children ages 3-10 in their care, following and throughout their placement. The training incorporates emerging theory about complex trauma and its relationship to the cardinal behavior problems of maltreated children in kinship and adoptive families. The proposed training series will address these issues by combining recommendations for intervention by the National Child Trauma Stress Network with a proven-effective approach titled Nurturing Parent Program. Each workshop uses an externalized behavior problem as a portal for parents to explore the historical and psychological basis of their child's problem;to examine and alter their non-empathic, unrealistic parent attitudes and expectations;and to learn how to effectively parent the child. The workshops are driven by a custom-designed software engine developed in Phase I that incorporates "serious game" features and that automates and seamlessly integrates media components, including video, audio, text, interactive exercises, individualized response exercises, and a participant discussion board. Results in Phase I provided support for the effectiveness of the interactive multimedia format for the parent workshop. Parents made significant gains in knowledge and confidence from pre- to post-test, and the gains were maintained at the 3-month follow-up assessment. Many adoptive and kinship parents find themselves feeling isolated, abandoned, and challenged by a child with severe behavior problems. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for the dissolution, disruption, or displacement of the adoption, along with a lifetime of emotional scars for the child and family. Children's behavioral problems also place them at risk of re-abuse in out-of-home care. Unlike any comparable resource, the proposed workshops have the potential of creating a paradigmatic shift in clinical practice by providing innovative online training and support specifically designed for post-placement families with children with special needs. Each workshop will be individually evaluated with a sample of post-placement families. Core outcome measures are a standardized part of the Nurturing Parent Program. In addition, we will assess changes in child externalized behavior problems. Outcomes will also be assessed at a 3-month follow-up.
Subjects participating in this project will gain important information about parenting foster-adoptive and kinship children with special needs. The training may help them to better understand and parent children's externalizing behavior problems. As a result, the quality of parent-child relationships in resource families could improve, which could help stabilize placements and improve children's short- and long-term mental health outcomes.