The McSilver Institute is excited to applaud another successful group of speakers at its second lecture, entitled “Bridging the Gap between Science, Practice, and Families,” which occurred on Monday, March 5th. Despite its early hour, the lecture attracted an audience that overflowed from the Silver School parlor.
The lecture featured opening remarks from McSilver Director Dr. Mary McKay, as well as Silver School Dean Lynn Videka. Both emphasized the importance of linking existing research findings, provider organizational knowledge as well as family perspectives to address the root causes of poverty. Additionally, Dean Videka highlighted McSilver’s role in contributing to research that will improve outcomes for poverty-stricken communities.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Anil Chacko, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Queens College, CUNY and Research Scientist, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Chacko focused on the development of parenting interventions that take into account the culture and context of the communities using the interventions, as well as the evidence base for each program. He emphasized that there is no one intervention that fits one population, invoking the popular idiom “There are different strokes for different folks.” However, he also described several common principles shared by successful interventions.
Dr. Chacko described the difficult task required of parents, by quoting the psychotherapist, Virginia Satir, “Parents teach in the toughest school in the word: The School for Making People. You are the board of education, the principal, the classroom teacher, and the janitor, all rolled into two. . . . There are few schools to train you for your job, and there is no general agreement on the curriculum.” Additionally, families with many stressors may lack access to evidence-based parenting programs and may be less engaged in the programs once enrolled. Considering these factors, as well as recent budget cuts for various programs, he highlighted the need for efficient services that are more engaging and still effective.
He presented several programs, including Strategies to Enhance Positive Parenting (STEPP) program, Multiple Family Groups, and the Fathers Supporting Success in Preschool (FSSP) program, that address the concerns of an efficient format through group interventions and collaboration among professionals, para-professionals, and parent-peers. Further, these interventions emphasize a pertinent focus and scope for families, including social support and stress management components.
Following Dr. Chacko’s lecture, Dr. Andrew Cleek, Executive Director of the Urban Institute for Behavioral Health, described the Urban Institute’s aim to take evidence-based practice out of academic settings and adapting them to be utilized by broader populations. In order to disseminate innovations in healthcare, Dr. Cleek focused on three important concepts. First, what is the perception of the intervention? Are the benefits relevant for the population? Is it simple and can it be tested? Secondly, what are the characteristics of the individuals who must adopt the change? Is the intervention compatible with the belief systems and needs of its consumers and agencies? Lastly, does the intervention work at an organizational level? Is it practical in terms of contextual and managerial considerations, including billing concerns? Dr. Cleek concluded with the take-home message that all relevant parties, including agency management, clinicians, and consumers must be involved in and committed to interventions in order for them to be successful and sustainable.
The third of the speakers was Angela Paulino, member of the Bronx Community Collaborative Board (CCB) that develops and implements collaborative interventions for children and families. She detailed the structure of the CCB, which is composed of various committees, including groups for curriculum, implementation, research finance, grant writing, international HIV prevention, and leadership development. She recommended strategies to encourage high levels of family collaboration in research, including answering core questions about the project, speaking in colloquial terms, being flexible and accommodating to the busy lives of people and organizations, and building trust. Additionally, she stressed, “Look for the human connection. We all bring something useful to the table and everyone must be treated at equal levels to ensure collaboration.”
The lecture ended with an enthusiastic round of questions from audience members and an invitation to the first of a two part lecture series, “New York State Medicare Redesign and the Affordable Care Act: The Impact on Children and Families.” This lecture will take place on Wednesday, April 18th from 1PM to 2:30PM in the parlor of the Silver School. No RSVP required.