Families and Health Section Update

/ NCFR Report, Summer 2023

See all articles from this issue.

Greetings, NCFR members and families and health scholars! We would like to share some information about Families and Health Section awards and about some special sessions to keep in mind for the 2023 NCFR Annual Conference. 

We invite you to nominate yourself or a colleague for one of our Section awards. Each year we give awards for a professional paper, a student paper, student poster awards, and a professional/practice award. Paper and professional/clinical practice award nominations were due by June 1. Student poster nominations are due before October 1. Award winners receive a cash prize, a certificate (and a ribbon in the case of poster awards) and are recognized in the Families and Health Section meeting. See the NCFR website for more details: https://www.ncfr.org/awards/section-awards/families-and-health.

Below are the names of the 2022 Families and Health Section awardees: 


Invited Sessions at the 2023 NCFR Conference 

The Families and Health Section is excited to co-organize a special session for the 2023 NCFR conference with the Advancing Family Science and Family Therapy Sections.  

You Cannot Serve from an Empty Vessel: Trauma Informed Wellness for Faculty and Practitioner Support  

Presenter: Julia Bernard, LMFT, Ph.D., CFLE, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Norwich University 

When Merrill Singer called attention to the synergistic connection of health problems and social problems in the 1990s, I imagine he could have predicted our current predicament of the Great Resignation and the massive losses our universities and practices have had to endure over the last years of recovery post Covid 19. But I think that our very field may be what has the capacity to help in the healing process and realign health and work/life priorities. In teaching trauma informed care principles over the last decade, I have learned that an environment where wellness and safety are a priority can make the difference in the levels of burnout and effort of faculty and practitioners. Principles like peer support, voice, and choice become critical in the retention of a quality workforce who has the compassion to do this work. These principles build resilience and provide a framework for rebuilding our social capital, both individually and professionally. In this workshop-like special session, we will use these principles to ask ourselves what we need to prioritize in our lives to stay “healthy.” 


The Families and Health Section is also excited to co-sponsor an invited special session at the 2023 NCFR conference with Issues in Aging Focus Group. 

Custodial Grandfamilies Navigating the Syndemic: Risk, Resilience, and Future Directions  

Presenter: Megan L. Dolbin-MacNab, Ph.D., LMFT, Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, Associate Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Science Virginia Tech 

Custodial grandparents, or families in which grandparents are raising their grandchildren, are critical sources of support for their families, communities, and society (Administration for Community Living, 2022). Yet, grandfamilies continue to experience significant challenges and limited resources and supports (Hayslip et al., 2017). Informed by the perspective of intersectionality (Dolbin-MacNab & Few-Demo, 2018) and conceptualized within the context of the syndemic, the first goal of this presentation is to critically examine the challenges experienced by custodial grandfamilies. In fact, the very formation of grandfamilies reflects the intersecting influences of economic, educational, and health disparities, as well as the impacts of trauma, drug epidemics, and mass incarceration. Once formed, custodial grandfamilies continue to face these challenges, but must also navigate difficulties related to community violence, lack of affordable housing and childcare, poverty, food insecurity, poor access to services, and structural inequalities within social programs, including the child welfare system. The recent COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated challenges for custodial grandfamilies, with the most vulnerable grandfamilies experiencing the most harmful impacts (Generations United, 2020). It is therefore no surprise that custodial grandparents and grandchildren are consistently found to experience negative physical and mental health outcomes, at rates higher than comparable populations (Hayslip et al., 2017). While understanding the challenges experienced by custodial grandfamilies is important, it is also necessary to understand factors that increase or decrease grandfamilies’ risk for negative outcomes and to consider the ways in which grandfamilies demonstrate resilience in the face of challenging circumstances. As such, the second goal of the presentation is to consolidate existing research to identify key individual, relational, and contextual factors that shape well-being in custodial grandfamilies and could serve as potential targets for intervention. Finally, to facilitate improving outcomes for custodial grandfamilies, the presentation will conclude by examining promising psychoeducational interventions and public policy initiatives designed to promote the health and well-being of grandfamilies, particularly those that are the most marginalized and vulnerable (Dolbin-MacNab, 2020a; Dolbin-MacNab, 2020b). Recommendations for future research, practice, and policy will be provided, in hopes of providing an action plan that can be used to benefit all members of the grandfamily system.