Past Projects Funded – 2013 Awardees

Boys of Color Collaborative

Principal Organizer – Oscar Barbarin

Boys of Color are vulnerable to a range of social, emotional and academic difficulties from birth through adulthood. Although these problems have existed for some time, we are far from understanding the sources and developing effective solutions. There are remarkably few published studies that aim at understanding the unfolding of the adverse outcomes that characterize the lives of many boys of color. Among the slim literature on what setting, opportunity, and experience variations might help explain the elevated risk for this group, there is even less about how successful development occurs. The purpose of BOC collaboration is to address this gap and construct a sounder, empirically based, understanding of the development of boys of color.  The Boys of Color (BOC) Collaborative is group of developmental scientists first formed as an interest group at the 2011 Biennial Meeting with the goal of exploiting existing longitudinal data sets to answer questions about the developmental status, trajectories and moderators of important cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes for BOC.  Over two years the Collaborative drew from its own and the work of others to summarize what we know about positive development, describe developmental trajectories to identify inflection points where intervention may be most effective, and distil from this work policy and practice guidelines for educational, family and community intervention. A Planning Group consisting of Oscar Barbarin, Sandra Graham, Velma McBride-Murry, and Pat Tolan will met in the fall of 2013 to develop a plan of action.  In addition a 2-day workshop of the Collaborative scholars was held in New Orleans in April 2014.  This meeting involved presentations of accepted papers, discussions of the implications for policy and practice and development of an agenda for future collaborative research projects.

Political Violence and Children

Principal Organizer – Edward Cummings

Political violence transforms communities, families, and individuals, depleting resources and instilling fear, distrust, and insecurity. Despite these risks, children growing up in communities defined by conflict often demonstrate extraordinary resilience, highlighting the importance of considering both protective and risk processes at the individual, family, and community levels. Many longitudinal studies conducted in societies defined by political discord or post-accord agreements across the world are exploring developmental pathways and mechanisms of risk and resilience in children. The Children & Political Violence project, led by E. Mark Cummings of the University of Notre Dame in partnership with Paul Boxer of Rutgers University and Eric Dubow and Rowell Huesmann of the University of Michigan, will bring together findings from these existing externally-funded research projects in a collaborative effort to test theoretically-guided models of the impact of political violence on children. This project will further our understanding of explanatory mechanisms through advanced statistical approaches and research designs and inform evidence-based practice and policy related to child development in social ecologies of violence. Interdisciplinary research teams studying different regions of the world will join together for a comparative evaluation of research findings. Following an initial meeting of research collaborators to discuss the parameters of the project, research methods, and preliminary findings from individual research projects, a second meeting, open to the public, will present the collaborative research findings with an emphasis on best practices for dissemination to policy-makers, educators, and community leaders. The key contributors and speakers on the project will produce an SRCD Monograph and/or an edited volume highlighting the accumulation of theoretical and empirical work that has emerged over the past 20 years examining children in contexts of war, political violence, and sectarian strife.

Child well-being, development and disability in Mexico: Creating a knowledge base for future research and policymaking

Principal Organizer – Filipa de Castro

The Mexican National Institute of Public Health (INSP) recently reported several population-based indicators of child development and wellbeing, based on the National Health Survey 2012 that, along with a review of national health plan goals and metrics, documented important challenges deserving urgent attention. This report concludes there is a critical need for a consistent evidence base for child development and wellbeing policies and practices, including national standards and a system for monitoring, screening, referring and providing care.

In an attempt to address these issues, this project will:

  •  Organize a meeting convening an international, interdisciplinary panel of experts and stakeholders around the themes of child wellbeing, development and disability in February 2014 at the INSP in Mexico City. Discussions included existing knowledge, gaps in evidence and how to proceed with short-term design of core indicators in order to develop recommendations for the first National Survey on Child Development and Wellbeing in Mexico.
  • A series of articles published in an open-access, bilingual special issue of the Mexican Journal of Public Health, by the end of 2014.
  • Policy briefs summarizing relevant conclusions on the 3 areas produced in electronic format and made freely available on-line and disseminated to stakeholders.

The planned event and resulting scientific products will contribute to consolidation of the child development research agenda, by providing the most comprehensive and updated information on this field, along with implications for research, intervention and policy.


Relevance of Population Neuroscience for Understanding Human Development

Principal Organizer – Daniel Keating

To advance the understanding of what makes for optimal human development, developmental neuroscience needs to embrace inter-individual differences and socio-demographic moderators in specifying potential mechanisms, and population science needs to incorporate neurological and other potential mechanisms into their multilevel models. To establish the sub-field of Developmental and Population Neuroscience (DPN), this group held an advanced interdisciplinary, international meeting to address three primary objectives: (1) representative versus convenience sampling in developmental neuroimaging, and sophisticated sampling techniques, (2) data driven versus hypotheses driven analytic approaches, and (3) multi-modal, multi-level data integration and quantitative methods for achieving this goal. The product of this meeting is a set of procedures that bridge disciplines, and a continuing interdisciplinary effort to further integrate developmental neuroscience and population sciences.  A 2-day meeting convened in May 2014 with 6 invited speakers and 40-60 participants to achieve four specific goals:

(1)  Spread knowledge and interest across disciplines to encourage greater emphasis on sampling and quantitative methods in neuroscience and a greater emphasis on incorporating neuroscience into larger survey research.

(2)  Provide a time and place for researchers across these areas to meet, network and begin collaboration.

(3)  Identify the major challenges to this approach and spur discussion and future research to address these challenges.

(4)  Disseminate the deliberations and findings through journal special issues or monographs to reach a broad range from neuroscience, developmental science, and population sciences – or potentially as a freestanding collected volume integrating these strands. 

Equity and Justice Research and Developmental Science

Principal Organizer – Melanie Killen

The Equity and Justice Committee will hold a conference that brings together a core group of researchers whose work focuses on equity and justice. The purpose for this small conference will be to strengthen the coherence of research on equity and justice in the field of developmental science and child development. Issues related to equity and justice cut across many areas of research in developmental science, and bear on the development and well-being of children and youth. Despite the importance of equity and justice, however, substantive research addressing these issues is scattered across a number of developmental areas and populations of study.  It is critical that researchers in fields at the intersection of child development and justice/equity communicate across sub-areas (e.g., racial socialization and intergroup attitudes, immigrant status and stereotype threat, gender stereotyping and discrimination). This integration will enable developmental scientists to launch new integrative lines of research, to inform policy and advocacy work, to develop and implement evidence based practices and programs, as well as to generate future collaborative projects and sources of research funding.

The Pan-American Home Visiting Research Network

Principal Organizer – Jon Korfmacher

The Pan-American Home Visiting Research Network is a collaborative project between researchers, policy experts, and program directors in the United States, Chile, Brazil and Peru to promote exchange of information regarding early childhood home visiting programs in South, Central, and North America. This network will allow sharing of common strategies and protocols, and will develop research, evaluation and dissemination strategies for evidence-based practices. The specific goals are to: 1) Create a scan of recognized home visiting programs across the countries of Central and South America; 2) Develop a list serve and an online presence to allow for electronic communication and dissemination of information and materials (including a multi-language website); 3) Host a 3-day meeting in Santiago Chile, focusing on sharing core quality components of home visiting programs, encouraging research strategies, developing toolkits of linguistically appropriate and culturally valid measures, and sharing strategies for funding and intersectorial collaboration; and 4) disseminate summary information from the meeting to practice, policy, and research audiences.

A Network to Support International, Interdisciplinary, and Cross-Professional Collaboration and Learning in the Study of Interventions for Children and Youth in Low and Middle Income Countries (LAMICs)

Principal Organizer – Anne Petersen

The 2013 SRCD preconference workshop on “Interventions for Children and Youth in Low- and Middle-Income (LAMI) Countries” received significant positive feedback and a strong demand for ongoing activities to foster relationships and learning around developmental intervention science in the majority world. The SRCD International Committee, with the Pre-Conference Organizing Committee (PCOC) as the central group, proposed developing a network supported by an interactive web platform to facilitate and foster global exchange among researchers and practitioners from diverse disciplinary and institutional backgrounds concerned with child/youth developmental interventions in the majority world.

Network Vision and Mission:

(1)  Highlight the needs, opportunities and challenges to advancing developmental research and interventions, especially in the global south. Research in the majority world requires cross-cultural sensitivity and adaptation in research and intervention design, to ensure that both are meaningful to and sustainable in a particular cultural context.

(2)  Grow the body of evidence on interventions during middle childhood and adolescence. The preconference workshop mirrored the current state of the research in LAMI countries: most of the participants and submitted case studies focused on early childhood development (ECD). This network aims to support existing ECD interest, and stimulate research on middle childhood and adolescence.

(3)  Foster and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and integration. Researchers from a variety of disciplines, from economics to public health, are interested in child/youth development using diverse perspectives and approaches. This network will facilitate cross-disciplinary exchange and effective, meaningful collaboration.

(4)  Communicate research findings and engage policy makers/practitioners. This network will advance science and practice by showcasing existing exemplary efforts in developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions, and encourage dialogue (with systematic feedback/improvement cycles) among researchers and practitioners. Webcasts, videos, chatrooms, and blogs will be used to make information and tools easily accessible, and support an interactive exchange. Developmental intervention science will improve as a result of continual feedback/learning.

(5)  Motivate, support, and connect a diverse global group of scientists and practitioners at all stages of career development. It is difficult for US based scholars to find research partners. It is even more difficult for researchers and practitioners in the majority world to connect with each other and with the broader community of researchers interested in similar topics.

Grant Activities and Results

To achieve the vision for the network, the planning group outlined specific activities and expected results for the SRCD grant.

  • Prepare and publish an article highlighting the issues and results of the 2013 SRCD Preconference Workshop
    The Pre-Conference Workshop Organizing Committee took primary responsibility for the workshop report. They met early in July 2013 to outline the article and identify writing roles. One member submitted a proposal for an article in Child Development Perspectives, a proposal which was subsequently approved by the CDP editor by early fall 2013. The complete article has now been submitted for publication (attached, Appendix A).
  • Create executive and advisory committees to implement and oversee the work
    Committees were established at a meeting of the working committee in October 2013. The executive committee has been primarily responsible for identifying and conducting all activities. The advisors have been engaged frequently throughout. Lists of these committees are included as Appendix B.
  • Create a web portal to support network activities
    The executive committee engaged the services of CauseLabs to provide the technical expertise to build the web portal for the network. The committee met with two CauseLabs staff in October 2013 to identify the design features and structural requirements for the portal. This meeting concluded with wireframes and a very rough prototype of the portal. The development of the portal continued until the beginning of June 2014 (impeded by challenges with design and implementation, particularly a change in the contracted personnel working on the portal.)
  •  Four-phase roll-out of the website

1)    Once the portal was operating reasonably well, the two tech-savvy members of the executive committee tested during June the various features, recruiting similarly savvy colleagues for a first phase of testing.

2)    The second phase consisted of reaching out to a sample of about 40 preconference attendees. A gradual roll-out allowed us to manage eventual glitches in the onboarding process by allowing the website administrators (same two executive committee members) to address issues in a timely manner.

3)    Phase three of the roll-out, beginning in July 2014, consisted of reaching out to the entire mailing list of preconference (and symposium) participants with a first blog post by the executive committee introducing the Network and website. This was followed by a mailing to all participants who had attended a conference held in January 2014 in Abu Dhabi hosted by a nascent center at New York University spearheaded by two of the executive committee members.

4)    In June, the executive committee developed a post-card/flyer to broadly advertise the Network and website (attached as Appendix C) for distribution at international and other meetings of those likely to be in the Network. This flyer (electronically) was disseminated through personal Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Distribution of the physical flyer began early in the July biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development in Shanghai. Additional cards will be distributed at all international meetings attended by executive committee members.

  • Obtain additional funding for the Network
    This work continues. We successfully applied for additional funding from Josiah Charles Trent Foundation through Duke University for further developing the Network and web platform. Funders have expressed great interest in supporting substantive activity.
  • Achieve a sustainable structure (or host) for the Network
    Sustainability for the Network will require an institutional home. We are pursuing several options; our preferred option for institutional structure is one that reflects the mission and vision of the Network and leaves it free of a single institution, especially one in the minority world. We aim to complete this work during 2014.

At last count, nearly 200 members had registered on the web portal. The potential membership is, of course, much larger and we believe that as we accumulate activities, we will also grow members, creating a positive cycle. We are enthusiastic about continuing to advance this work, and as we argue in the article just submitted to CDP, ultimately enhance the fields of developmental science and intervention science in mutually beneficial ways, thereby also enhancing practice to benefit children and youth in the majority world.