Promoting Development of Executive Functioning in Every Child Succeeds

Executive functioning is a set of cognitive processes that are essential to behavioral and emotional self-regulation in children. Much of the research to date has focused on children aged 3 years and older, and have developed several programs to facilitate acquisition of cognitive abilities in this age group. With a focus on birth to 3 years, Every Child Succeeds (ECS) wishes to promote executive functioning from the earliest age. Every Child Succeeds received a grant from the Bezos Family Foundation to adapt the Mind in the Making program, a well-known and promising program designed to build executive functioning capacity, for children aged 0-3 who are participating in home visiting. We are partnering with Mind in the Making, Vroom and one of our lead agencies, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services, on an innovative pilot. We are working collaboratively to identify and test goal-setting tools as an effective approach to enhancing executive functioning for both the home visitors and for the high-risk families enrolled in ECS. The uniqueness of this pilot is that we are not only working to enhance our two-generational approach but training our providers to assimilate in their own daily lives the life skills shown to enhance executive functioning - the mental process that enables us to plan, focus attention and manage multiple tasks successfully. As part of this effort, we are incorporating a novel smart phone-delivered application called Vroom that encourages and guides parents in interacting with their young children in stimulating and nurturing ways. One of the greatest challenges in this project is developing strategies to bring the skills and resources of executive functioning into home visits with efficiency and authenticity, while at the same time preserving the effective approach is the core of the home visiting curriculum. The results of this effort inform recommendations for our on-going work at ECS, as well as, the national home visitation field at large.

Expanding our Local and National Footprint: Moving Beyond Depression

Maternal emotional health is crucial to optimal social, cognitive, and emotional health in children. Moving Beyond Depression (MBD) is a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to identifying and treating depression in mothers participating in early childhood prevention programs. Developed by Every Child Succeeds, MBD was tested in a randomized clinical trial and found to be highly effective. MBD helps mothers recover from depression, promotes optimal child development, and supports home visitors so that they can deliver services in an efficient and effective manner. We have continued to expand this evidence-based program locally, implementing it in other local early childhood programs and Cradle Cincinnati. Moreover, we have expanded our national dissemination to home visiting programs in Massachusetts, California, Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, West Virginia, and South Carolina. A data collection system developed to collect data from all national MBD sites helps to facilitate further research and comparisons between programs.