Like at all of our locations, VIP is delivered to families in the pediatric clinic. The exciting thing about Smart Beginnings (SB), a novel birth-to-three initiative, is that families who are found to have additional challenges have the opportunity to receive Family Check Up (FCU) in their home. Both VIP and FCU are prevention programs focused on promoting positive parent-child interactions, and in turn, children’s school readiness abilities.
VIP is provided to families in the pediatric clinic at the time of well-child visits starting at birth. Each session, parents and children meet with a trained parenting coach for approximately 25 minutes. Coaches provide parents with a developmentally appropriate book or toy and briefly record the parent and child playing or reading together. Following the recording, the coach provides immediate feedback to the parent, highlighting strengths and positive parenting behaviors within the interaction. This process encourages the parent to reflect on the interaction, helps to support parenting self-efficacy, and promotes positive parent-child interactions that build the foundation for children’s learning and development.
FCU is a brief family-centered program that is delivered in the home for families who are found to have additional risks and challenges, starting when infants are 6 months of age. The program uses clinical-level guidance tailored to the family’s needs and goals to provide additional support to families who need it.
Our Newest Findings
In this study we looked at 362 infants and parents who joined the study at birth in two different locations: Health+Hospitals/ Bellevue in New York City and UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital/UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Half the families at each site received VIP starting from birth while the other half did not take part in any program. The families in NYC were primarily Hispanic/Latinx while the families in Pittsburgh were primarily Black/African American. At 6 months (prior to starting FCU), parents completed surveys about their reading, playing, and teaching interactions with their infant. Parents and infants were also observed playing together for 10 minutes and their interactions were coded for parent language quality and quantity and behaviors that stimulate child development.
At 6 months, parents who participated in VIP had higher survey scores overall, particularly in domains reflecting reading and teaching interactions. Parents who participated in VIP also had higher scores on observed measures of parenting, including language quality, quantity, and cognitive stimulation. Importantly, large effects were shown in the sample overall and in both sites.
The Takeaway Message
SB is one of the first tiered models linking and integrating intervention programs across pediatric primary care and home visiting to prevent disparities in early development and school readiness. This study showed that VIP delivered as the first phase of SB had strong impacts on parenting behaviors across two geographically distant sites with mothers from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Future research at later time points will further determine impacts and feasibility of the integrated, comprehensive SB model.
Want to Know More?
Learn about our research here! Or read this NYU Langone NewsHub article and check out this clip of Dr. Alan Mendelsohn on Bloomberg Quicktake!