Evaluating services for children and families
- Early intervention has been a theme of both the previous and the current governments. The Nurse Family Partnership home-visiting programme, initiated in pregnancy for vulnerable first-time mothers and continuing until children are two years, was introduced into England in 2007, where it is known as the Family Nurse Partnership. I directed the evaluation of its implementation. Following on from that work I am now evaluating the implementation of a group support programme, based on the Nurse Family partnership model.
- Sure Start was a major cross-departmental government initiative that invested more than £450 million in areas of disadvantage to enhance services for families of young children. I am one of the Directors of the National Evaluation of Sure Start, conducting a major longitudinal study of parenting and community influences upon child health and cognitive, social and emotional development. My particular focus is the community characteristics, how they change, and how they influence change for children and families.
- I recently completed a cluster randomised control trial to evaluate a volunteer home-visiting intervention, Home-Start, targeting vulnerable mothers of newborn children and looking at child development and maternal mental health outcomes.
Parenting, community characteristics and community development
- There has been growing recognition that the community or neighbourhood environment may be a significant factor in enhancing children’s well-being and in particular the extent of disorder. Community development and regeneration, once relatively neglected disciplines, have recently received a great deal of attention in the UK, with efforts to increase local collective efficacy. I directed a study investigating relationships between individual characteristics (e.g. personality), family factors and community perceptions in a sample of nearly 800 families from four contrasting neighbourhoods, with the main findings reported in a recent book. Prior to that I co-authored a book about the pertinent theories, interventions and findings.
Children’s behavioural and emotional development
- I have a long-standing interest in children's behaviour and development in group settings and in ways to assess young children, developing the Pre-School Behaviour Checklist (PBCL) which was published in the 1980s and is still used widely in group settings in the UK and the USA. It is well validated (link to 1986 paper) and available from Academic Therapy Publications.
- Screening for behaviour problems in nurseries: the reliability and validity of the preschool behaviour checklist.
- The Families, Children and Child Care study is a longitudinal study of 1200 children examining ways in which different types of child care are related to child outcomes. I have been investigating factors associated with child care choices, parents' satisfaction with childcare, the quality of care provided, and the relationship between childcare and children's socio-emotional and cognitive development.
- With colleagues at UCL, I developed a measure of the Quality of Life with a particular focus on young children with chronic illness. It is currently being developed for on-line application.
- Currently I am co-investigator in a project investigating the relevance of maternal age to child health and development