Early Relationships and Children’s Development
Experiences in relationships early in life can resonate across the lifespan. Children do best when they have the opportunity to participate regularly in positive, supportive relationships with multiple adults across contexts. This research initiative focuses on the study of developmental processes across developmental domains in young children (ages birth to five). The overall goal of this initiative is to stimulate research aimed at promoting positive early development and reducing risks for compromised development, particularly for those children exposed to poverty and other child, family and community disadvantages or risks. This collaborative work includes a focus on processes and practices supporting caregiver-child relationships that promote well- being, healthy development, and evidence-based early interventions for at-risk children. Areas of focus for this initiative include the following: (1) identifying individual child, caregiver (e.g., parents, other family members and early care and education teachers), and contextual (e.g., cultural, community, neighborhood, early care and education program) factors and processes linked to early development; (2) promoting practices and processes contributing to broadly-defined developmental well-being of young children; (3) developing, implementing and evaluating evidence-based early interventions for young children; (4) identifying scientific evidence in early intervention and prevention that will serve to guide externally-funded research, policy briefs, policy implementation in early childhood, and community outreach practices.
Coordinate an interdisciplinary group of scholars and scientists to build an early childhood initiative for research and scholarship.
Generate cross-disciplinary research projects and grant collaborations to advance both basic and applied research.
Provide a forum for faculty to share ideas and receive input from their peers on new research ideas and the design of new research proposals, including feedback on grant proposal drafts.
Develop a distinguished early childhood speaker series with areas of expertise in prevention, early intervention, risk, and resilience.
Integrate best practices and current research in community-based programs serving young children and their families.
Establish programs to include visiting scholars, and fund graduate and post-doctoral students in the area of early childhood development.
Base funding from the Frances McClelland Institute to support the brown bag seminar series and to bring speakers with early childhood expertise to campus
Social media and other marketing and communication resources of the Frances McClelland Institute and the Norton School to raise awareness of the initiative’s goals and activities and to attract new members
Funds for pilot projects
Preparation of individual and collaborative research and training grants
Preparation of collaborative research and applied publications
Building of relationships and partnerships across campus and in Southern Arizona
Development of a training grant, possibly in collaboration with other centers on campus and/or research initiatives
Funded research and applied projects
Funded training program
Contributions to developmental science knowledge through academic research publications and presentations
Contributions to the field of early childhood, including ways to build development-fostering opportunities for young children at-risk through practice and policy publications, presentations and partnerships
Collaborations with community organizations serving young children and families
Strengthening Families Program
The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) is a 14-week targeted parenting and family strengthening program for high-risk families with preschool children 3-5 years of age living in Pinal and Santa Cruz counties. This intervention model consists of parenting skills, children's life skills, and family skills training courses. Participants meet weekly for 14 sessions lasting approximately three hours. These weekly sessions include family mealtime, parent and child group sessions along with a structured family practice time and group leader coaching. The overall program focuses on reducing problem behaviors, improving social competencies, and strengthening parent-child interactions through effective and positive parenting skills. This program is offered through UA Cooperative Extension, and the Extension agents and staff in Pinal and Santa Cruz counties.
The Interactive Eye Gaze Study
This study is currently seeking participants. The Interactive Eye Gaze Study is a longitudinal study focused on understanding social attention of infants/toddlers at-risk for autism based on older siblings diagnoses. This study is recruiting infants and toddlers between the ages of 3 and 24 months who are considered to be at developmental risk to participate in a longitudinal study about social attention and eye gaze
Who is considered “at-risk”?:
1. Has an older sibling with autism, or
2. Is being followed in a high-risk clinic, or
3. Has been diagnosed with a developmental delay.
Using eye-tracking technology, this study will measure eye movements during short, interactive movie clips at 4 different time points. Families will come to the Frances McClelland Institute for Children Youth and Families Lang Laboratory at the University of Arizona where they will participate in social and communication developmental assessments during structured and unstructured play activities. The total time required is approximately an hour for each visit.
The study measures infants’ and toddlers’ social attention and eye movements through an eye-tracker during short, interactive movie clips. The study also assesses socio-communicative development through structured and unstructured play activities. The study is trying to understand how social attention changes within the first year of life for early identification and intervention purposes for at-risk infants and toddlers. Infants and toddlers come for four lab visits at the time points of 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of age. Infants/toddlers and families come in to our lab for an hour and a half for a few non-intrusive assessments. We provide for parking as well as developmental information for your child at each time visit.
Would you like to participate? Please contact the project coordinator Chandni Parikh (520-621-9502) or send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Joint Attention Assessment (JAA)
Joint Attention in Autism (JAA) study is a 16-weeks home intervention study focused on understanding social and playtime interactions between mothers and young children diagnosed with autism. All mothers are given specific instructions and guidelines to social communication skills that involve a specific set of toys. In addition to the home assessments, mothers also participate in 4 laboratory visits that include assessments of their child’s language, social, joint attention, and eye gaze behaviors. All mothers collect weekly information about their child’s playtime activities, joint attention behaviors, language diaries, and parent perceptions of activities. All children enrolled in the intervention study are between the ages of 22-44 months with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder at the onset of the study. This study was conducted in collaboration with UC Davis’ M.I.N.D Institute. Currently, our EDL lab is focused on understanding the outcomes for the home-based intervention.
The Toddler Sleep and Language Study is a collaborative project between the UA Down Syndrome Research Group and the Early Developmental Studies Lab and looks at sleep and language development among toddlers between 2-years-old and 5-years-old with Down syndrome, autism, and those that are typically developing. This study is completed in-home, requires minimal travel, and involves the following:
- Language - measured through questionnaires and a non-invasive monitor that records child language for 16 continuous hours.
- Sleep - measured through questionnaires and an Actiwatch, a non-invasive watch that records children’s basic rest activity cycle for a minimum of 7 days.
- Behavior - measured through various questionnaires that can be completed at any point during the study.
- Social-Communication - measured through different structured and unstructured tasks that are completed either in the setting of your home or a visit to the lab. The study takes place in the comfort of each family's home so there is no need to travel to the lab at any point. We will drop off and pick up the materials from families so they can complete the study at a time that is convenient for them.
This study is currently seeking participants. Please click here for more information.
Phone: (520) 621 - 9502