Enhancing Child Health and Well-Being Locally and Globally Through Family Support Programs

Concurrent Sessions 1 (Invited Presenter Symposium)

Celene Domitrovich, Ph.D., Georgetown University Medical Center, Robert Nix, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison; Karen Bierman, Ph.D. and Brenda Heinrichs, Ph.D., Penn State University; Sukhdeep Gill, Ph.D., Penn State University; Celene Domitrovich, Ph.D., Georgetown University Medical Center; Robert Nix, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison; Sukhdeep Gill, Ph.D., Penn State University-York; Kishor Shrestha, Ph.D., Global Family Village, Nepal

Discussant: Carla Peterson, Ph.D., Iowa State University; Chair: Sukhdeep Gill, Ph.D., Penn State University-York

Organized by the Families and Health Section

8:30 AM
9:45 AM
Golden Pacific Ballroom
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Families & Health
About the Session
  • Recent Advances in Evidence-Based Innovative Practices to Support Early Child Development
    By Celene Domitrovich, Ph.D., Georgetown University Medical Center
  • Using Home Visits to Reinforce the Learning in an Innovative Head Start Program: Sustained Benefits in Academic Achievement
    by Robert Nix, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison; Karen Bierman, Ph.D. and Brenda Heinrichs, Ph.D., Penn State University; Sukhdeep Gill, Ph.D., Penn State University York; Celene Domitrovich, Ph.D., Georgetown University Medical Center (PAPER WILL BE PRESENTED BY ROBERT NIX)
  • Enhancing Early Head Start to Improve Toddlers' Self-Control Skills and Healthy Eating Habits: Recipe 4 Success 
    By Ye Rang Park, M.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison; Sukhdeep Gill, Ph.D., Penn State University York; Robert Nix, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison (PAPER WILL BE PRESENTED BY YE RANG PARK)
  • Improving Young Children's Health, Nutrition, and Education Through Family Support in Nepal: A Review of Policy and Programs
    By Kishor Shrestha, Ph.D., Global Family Village, Nepal (PAPER WILL BE PRESENTED BY SUKHDEEP GILL)

Early education and family support programs can make an important difference in promoting academic success and physical and mental health among children living in poverty. Through ongoing practice and curricular enhancements, such programs can become more successful in achieving their goals over time. In this symposium, we will present theoretical developments to guide such enhancements. We will describe two emblematic programs designed to improve the effectiveness of Early Head Start and Head Start in the United States and review their results. Finally, we will address this issue from an international perspective by highlighting similar efforts in Nepal. Family plays a central role in promoting children’s health and well-being. Early formative years are particularly recognized as a sensitive period for the development of healthy eating habits, self-regulation, and social-emotional skills, and for language acquisition. Several early intervention programs, including Early Head Start/Head Start (EHS/HS) are geared towards supporting children and families living in poverty. These programs have made a significant difference in buffering the negative effects of poverty and continue to improve services to better fit the changing demographics of children and families.This symposium will present four papers. In the first paper, Domitrovich and colleagues will present theoretical developments and evidence-based innovative practices in understanding early development. The second paper, by Nix and colleagues explores the problem of accessibility by examining the impact of coordinated classroom and home visit programs in Head Start. In analyses of two randomized trials, this study found unique benefits of a parent-enhanced home visiting program designed to complement a teacher classroom intervention. In the third paper, Gill and colleagues present the results of a randomized trial of enhancement to the current home-based EHS programs to reduce incidence of early obesity, improve early eating habits, and foster self-regulation. Finally, Dr. Shrestha will provide a unique perspective regarding parent involvement to promote child health, nutrition, and education in Nepal. Dr. Peterson is one of the leading experts in the field of family support programs, especially Early Head Start (EHS) and pre-k programs. She has been actively engaged in EHS research from the inception of the program and was one of the National Evaluation of EHS team members. As mentioned on her website, specializes in early childhood special education in human development and family studies, leading research teams working with families who have vulnerable children. Areas of her research interests relevant to this symposium include community integration and inclusion, effectiveness of home intervention, intervention with young children who are at risk, and social skills development. She is the co-chair of home visitation focus group at NCFR. Given her expertise and experience with early preventive intervention, her participation, as a discussant, will significantly add to the value of the symposiums for all the attendees.


The participants in this symposium will: (1) Understand linkages between recent theoretical advancements and innovative practices to enhance early development for children. (2) Become familiar with the key home visitation intervention strategies used in these studies that have been found to be successful when working with families and young children. (3) Develop an appreciation for the role of family contexts in other parts of the world that drive policy and practices differently than what they experience in the U.S.

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