We are piloting an innovative preventive intervention in Philadelphia to reduce racial/ethnic and income disparities in the health and well-being of elementary school children with a physical, emotional, or developmental disability.
Compared to their peers, children with disabilities are more likely to experience financial hardship, family conflict, adverse childhood experiences, and academic and socioemotional challenges. Their parents face corresponding challenges—including coparenting conflict, stress and mental health problems, and burdens related to accessing and managing services and supports. These challenges are accentuated for low-income and racially/ethnically diverse parents, leading to high levels of stress, more conflict in family relationships and compromised parenting quality, and disruptions in parents’ abilities to advocate for their child and access appropriate special education and health services.
To provide support for parents in these challenging situations, we are adapting the Family Foundations program for families of elementary school children who are entering the special education system and going through the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process. Family Foundations helps parents handle the physical and emotional challenges of parenthood by building a strong team approach to positive parenting. Several NIH-funded studies have demonstrated the long-term benefits for both parents and children.
We will assess the new, adapted Family Foundations program with 60 families with lower incomes living in Philadelphia. We’ll also recruit another 60 families to serve as a comparison group.
The project is designed to:
- support parents’ ability to access appropriate services for their children,
- generate sustained improvements in children’s academic, social-emotional, and behavioral well-being; and
- build an evidence base upon which to further strengthen the Family Foundations program and make it available to even more families.