ABC Intervention | Research Projects
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Research Projects

Research Projects

High-Risk Birth Parents

Children from families who are involved with Child Protective Services are at greater risk developing problems related to their socio-emotional, cognitive, and brain development.  Early research with these families who received ABC demonstrated positive effects for attachment security, emotion expression, and physiological regulation among young children.

 

We have continued to follow these children across childhood and will be testing the long-term effects of the early programs for children’s development during middle childhood. Children will be assessed when they are 8, 9, and 10 years old because this is an age-range when regulatory capabilities have typically consolidated, and demands for self-regulation are high. Specific measures will focus on children’s inhibitory control, emotion regulation, peer relations, and physiological regulation as assessed through measurement of the hormone cortisol.

 

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Funding: National Institute of Mental Health R01 MH074374 award, “Intervening Early with Neglected Children: Key Middle Childhood Outcomes.” Period of support: May 1, 2014-March 31, 2019.

Toddlers in Foster Care

Toddlers who are in foster care often exhibit a variety of behavioral, emotional, and physiological problems. Some of the significant challenges they face include forming new attachment relationships and developing the ability to regulate their behavior and their physiological responses to stress. Because of the unique needs and experiences of this group of children, caregivers often find it difficult to ensure that children are provided with the nurturance and care they need in order to develop secure relationships while also providing children with the appropriate amount of behavioral supports so that they can learn to regulate their behavior.

 

Caregivers and toddlers who enrolled in this study were randomly assigned to one of the two, 10-session programs: the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up for Toddlers (ABC-T) program, or the Developmental Education for Families (DEF) program that was developed to improve motor and language outcomes for children.

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Funding: National Institute of Mental Health R01 MH052135 award, “Specialized mental health services for toddlers in foster care.” Period of support: January 1, 2009-December 31, 2014.

Children Adopted Internationally

The number of children adopted internationally has increased dramatically over the last two decades. Children adopted from other countries may experience a variety of deficits in their pre-adoptive living situations including a lack of nutritious food, limited sensory experiences and inadequate support from and interaction with caregivers. As a result, some children experience a range of problems including inattention, deficits in inhibitory control, emotional difficulties, motor problems, and physical health problems. Although rapid gains are seen in some areas, other problems may persist in some children. Thus, it is critical that interventions be developed that address the specific issues faced by these children and their parents.

 

In 2009, the National Institute of Mental Health awarded Dr. Dozier a grant to study the short- and long-term efficacy of the ABC and DEF interventions.

 

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Funding: National Institute of Mental Health R01 MH084135 award, “Services for Children Adopted Internationally.” Period of support: January 1 2009- December 31, 2014.

Fostering Relationships

After foster care placement, birth parents are often limited to supervised visitation at an office or “visitation center”. Foster parents, now the child’s primary caregiver, are only sporadically present at these visits. Such visits can go poorly; children and parents are often upset, as both birth and foster parents can have unrealistic expectations and children may feel confusion and anxiety about separation from their caregiver. We are studying an adaptation of ABC to be used as a method for improving visitation visits between children, foster parents, and birth parents. This program is called Fostering Relationships. The goals of Fostering Relationships are to:

1) Strengthen the relationship between foster parents and birth parents

2) Help birth parents to have a successful visit, feel less rejected by their child, and so encourage repeated visitation, and

3) Increase foster and birth parent use of sensitive parenting behaviors.