Panel: Meeting All Parents Where They Are: A New Generation of Strengths-Based Technology Interventions
(Family and Child Policy)

Saturday, November 4, 2017: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Stetson BC (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Christina Weiland, University of Michigan
Panel Chairs:  Tova Walsh, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Discussants:  Ariel Kalil, University of Chicago

Using SMS To Improve Early Reading Skills: Evidence From Zambia
Alejandro Ome, Alicia Menendez and Russell Owen, NORC at the University of Chicago

Text-Based Mentoring to Support Positive Child Development and Maternal Health and Well Being
Eleanor Martin1, Christina Weiland1 and Lindsay Page2, (1)University of Michigan, (2)University of Pittsburgh

Helping Fathers FIND their Strengths: An Evaluation of the Filming Interactions to Nurture Development Program
Holly Schindler1, Phillip Fisher2 and Cindy Ola2, (1)University of Washington, (2)University of Oregon

Incorporating Behavioral Science Into a Smartphone App to Reduce Fathers’ Barriers to Participation in Fatherhood Programs
Rekha Balu, MDRC, Shawna Lee, University of Michigan and Tova Walsh, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Decades of research have shown that parents unquestionably are the most important people in shaping children’s development.  In turn, countless interventions have sought, with mixed success, to support healthy parent-child interactions and relationships (Kalil, 2015).  In this panel, we bring together three new efforts to support parents.  All are informed by behavioral science; two target fathers, an under-represented population in parent programs; two use coaching/mentoring; and all use technology in novel ways to address shortcomings in the current parent intervention literature.  In particular, in contrast to the scalability problems in parenting interventions (Hall & Bierman, 2015), the three approaches represented on the panel have potential to be highly scalable and cost effective.  The first paper presents implementation data from a text-mentoring intervention in Pittsburgh that pairs new parents during their post-partum hospital stays with a trained volunteer mentor who is also a parent.  Via a sophisticated texting-based platform, mentors answer parents’ questions, suggest strategies and activities to promote child development, and attend to potential signs of maternal depression/anxiety.  The second paper describes the development and initial evaluation of a video-coaching program for low-income fathers, a strengths-based program that directly targets fathers’ responsive parenting through in-home coaching based on videos of naturally occurring interactions.  Home visitors review video clips with fathers, with the aim of increasing fathers’ engagement and decreasing their parenting stress.  The third paper examines the development of a smartphone app aimed at increasing fathers’ participation in an evidence-based fatherhood program and providing booster shots to increase men’s recall of content delivered through the program.  The promise and pitfalls of using technology and behavior science to support parents in the next generation of parenting programs will be discussed.  We also will discuss the data and measurement benefits and challenges inherent in technology-driven interventions.

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