Past Research Projects

Community Violence and Head Start Children 
Dr. Suzanne Randolph and Dr. Sally Koblinsky
The researchers and Family Science graduate students collected data for a three-year research and intervention project funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The project examines the effects of neighborhood violence on preschoolers, the role of family and schools in mediating its impacts, and the effectiveness of early childhood anti-violence interventions in Head Start programs. This study of African-American Head Start families examines the effects of community violence exposure on preschoolers' cognitive, motor, and socioemotional development; determines the strategies parents and teachers use to protect children from violence and help them deal with violence-related stress; and evaluates the impact of a preschool-level violence intervention program involving the school and family on children's developmental skills and behavior problems. The project also provides educational policy-makers with strategies for developing community-wide violence prevention/intervention programs.

Evaluation of a Couples Intervention Program for Domestic Abuse
Dr. Norman Epstein and Dr. Carol Werlinich

Dr. Epstein, Dr. Werlinich, and Couple and Family Therapy students are conducting a research study to evaluate the effectiveness of types of couple therapy for couples who have experienced problems with conflict and anger control and have experienced psychological and mild to moderate physical aggression in their relationship. In this Couples Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP), couples who seek assistance from the Center for Healthy Families for a variety of relationship issues are assessed for partner aggression and are randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. The two treatments are the usual couple therapy provided at the University of Maryland's Center for Healthy Families or a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) protocol designed specifically to address partner aggression. The CBT approach is designed to strengthen couples' skills for managing and reducing conflict and to enhance positive couple interactions, thereby reducing relationship risk factors for abuse. The treatment focuses on communication, conflict management, anger management, modification of negative cognitions about one's partner, relationship recovery from prior domestic abuse, and enhancement of relationship strengths and satisfaction.

Fostering Resilency in At-Risk African American Children
Dr. Sally Koblinsky and Dr. Suzanne Randolph
The researchers and Family Science graduate students implemented and evaluated a family strengthening program for low-income African American parents of Head Start children in Washington, D.C. The project, funded by the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, sought to increase family resilience and minimize young children's susceptibility to drug use and violence. In the first year, the researchers used a community consensus-building process to select a culturally-appropriate intervention program, Effective Black Parenting. Two cycles of the program were implemented with 34 African American families who resided in neighborhoods with high levels of community violence. A group of 31 nonparticipating families in similar neighborhoods served as a comparison group. A pretest-posttest design was used to assess the impact of the family strengthening model on parents' and children's attitudes and behaviors. Findings provide lessons for developing successful university-community collaborations and for designing culturally-sensitive parenting programs.