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Message ID: 9631
Date: 2014-04-14

Author:Sarah Dauber

Subject:RE: looking for valid measures of parent-child relationship quality and attachment

Hi Sandra, Thank you so much for this thought-provoking post. Everything that you said makes a lot of sense and definitely provides good food for thought for the study I am working on! The agency that I’m at runs a supervised visitation program and we are designing a research study in which we hope to 1. Enhance the therapeutic component of the program by incorporating interventions aimed at improving the relationship between the child and the visiting parent, and 2. Pilot test the program to see if this enhanced model does result in improved relationships. Because the philosophy here is very attachment-based, all of our programs are centered around trying to increase caregiver attunement and repair disrupted attachments. However, I agree that it is somewhat problematic to look at attachment of a child to a parent they have very little contact with. There is very little research out there on parent-child visitation programs to guide the thinking in this, and so I would love to hear your input on other models to look at for enhancing the therapeutic component of our visitation program, as well as more appropriate outcomes to be looking at, either instead of or in addition to relationship quality. I would also be very interested to learn more about the model of parenting risk you are studying, but I understand that may not be public information yet if you are still in the midst of it. Thanks so much. Best, Sarah Sarah Dauber, Ph.D. Director of Research and Evaluation The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children 161 William Street-9th Floor New York, NY 10038 Tel: (212) 233-5500 ext. 224 Fax: (212) 791-5227 Email: sdauber@nyspcc.org From: bounce-114285965-50454359@list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-114285965-50454359@list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of SANDRA T AZAR Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:26 AM To: Child Maltreatment Researchers; child-maltreatment-research-L@cornell.edu Subject: RE: looking for valid measures of parent-child relationship quality and attachment I apologize in advance Sarah for this irreverent post. I confess it is to have the research community discuss a larger set of concerns. The question itself needs some discussion on this site. Attachment and bonding … are two constructs used with such abandon in the child protection system and looking at quality of relationships in dyads that have had almost no contact also seems problematic. Why do we continue to respond to questions asked by courts and systems that are framed in ways that do not map onto the task required of programs designed to improve parenting and family functioning. And to do so often in environments were economic resources are limited and risks are high. 78% of maltreatment is neglect – it is the elephant in the room …and while relationship breakdowns are part of it – the issues here are more basic and requiring reframing of questions asked as we do evaluations in court. If “relationship” is our focus what qualities are required to have a relationship with a child that meets community standards of adequate parenting ? We have learned much from neuroscience in the last decade about the impact of stressors on children and the parenting qualities and systems qualities that either protect them or do not. Negative health outcomes and academic outcomes are the best documented outcomes. We have to map our parenting evaluations to these outcomes – some of the most important capacities have to do with organization and planning capacities and flexibility of parents. Newer developmental models have focused on predictability of the environment of the child, along with its harshness. Understanding neglect takes us into arenas where we who do human services have less expertise – injury prevention, money management, health care capacities, basic skills (e.g., ability to tell time to get children off to school, bedtime rituals so children get adequate sleep), etc. There are a high density of parents in the CPS system for neglect who have cognitive impairments that suggest a high probability of difficulties with these issues. I am not talking about IQ but rather more fine grained problems with executive functioning, problem solving, appraisal biases. I have said this before in a post on this list serve. We have organized as a research community to map DNA and I think we need to organize as researchers to map parenting and family environments so that we can frame the questions better regarding parenting and to have measures to then assess qualities of parenting. Courts tell us what they want which is within their understanding and we need to tell them what they most need to make the very difficult judgments they are being asked to make. Observations of parenting may be part of what they need but even these need to be designed in ways to get at the capacities that are most telling (longer than what is typically done and measuring a broader set of capacities that are more fine grained and across multiple settings of child caregiving). And these need to be coupled with measurement of qualities we have been neglected such as injury beliefs/attitudes linked to actual monitoring and safety actions, home hygiene, medical care skills, emergency skills, how to set up a homework setting that will allow for the child to focus, etc. I have been testing some measures with neglect sample (with help of NICHD funding to test a model of parenting risk) and hope over time with a large sample to have a selection of measures that have validity. If we all agreed to use a battery or some subset of a battery of measures, we might move on this topic. Sandra Azar Professor of Psychology Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA From: bounce-114244225-6833833@list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-114244225-6833833@list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Sarah Dauber Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 1:19 PM To: child-maltreatment-research-L@cornell.edu Subject: looking for valid measures of parent-child relationship quality and attachment Hello, I am looking for standardized, validated measures of parent-child relationship quality to be used in a research study evaluating a therapeutic supervised visitation program for child welfare involved families. We are looking to evaluate the program for children ages 5-10 (approximately) so I need to find measures that are valid for that age group. I would like to assess parent-child attachment and/or quality of parenting/parent-child interaction. I’m looking for observational coding systems that can be used to code a structured interaction task between parent and child and also either self-report or observational measures of quality of attachment bond between parent and child. We are evaluating the relationship between and child and a non-custodial parent so the measure would need to be valid in a case where the child and parent don’t live together and don’t see each other very often. Any suggestions would be most appreciated! Thank you. Sarah Dauber, Ph.D. Director of Research and Evaluation The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children 161 William Street-9th Floor New York, NY 10038 Tel: (212) 233-5500 ext. 224 Fax: (212) 791-5227 Email: sdauber@nyspcc.org

Hi Sandra, Thank you so much for this thought-provoking post. Everything that you said makes a lot of sense and definitely provides good food for thought for the study I am working on! The agency that I’m at runs a supervised visitation program and we are designing a research study in which we hope to 1. Enhance the therapeutic component of the program by incorporating interventions aimed at improving the relationship between the child and the visiting parent, and 2. Pilot test the program to see if this enhanced model does result in improved relationships. Because the philosophy here is very attachment-based, all of our programs are centered around trying to increase caregiver attunement and repair disrupted attachments. However, I agree that it is somewhat problematic to look at attachment of a child to a parent they have very little contact with. There is very little research out there on parent-child visitation programs to guide the thinking in this, and so I would love to hear your input on other models to look at for enhancing the therapeutic component of our visitation program, as well as more appropriate outcomes to be looking at, either instead of or in addition to relationship quality. I would also be very interested to learn more about the model of parenting risk you are studying, but I understand that may not be public information yet if you are still in the midst of it. Thanks so much. Best, Sarah Sarah Dauber, Ph.D. Director of Research and Evaluation The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children 161 William Street-9th Floor New York, NY 10038 Tel: (212) 233-5500 ext. 224 Fax: (212) 791-5227 Email: sdaubernyspcc.org From: bounce-114285965-50454359list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-114285965-50454359list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of SANDRA T AZAR Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:26 AM To: Child Maltreatment Researchers; child-maltreatment-research-Lcornell.edu Subject: RE: looking for valid measures of parent-child relationship quality and attachment I apologize in advance Sarah for this irreverent post. I confess it is to have the research community discuss a larger set of concerns. The question itself needs some discussion on this site. Attachment and bonding … are two constructs used with such abandon in the child protection system and looking at quality of relationships in dyads that have had almost no contact also seems problematic. Why do we continue to respond to questions asked by courts and systems that are framed in ways that do not map onto the task required of programs designed to improve parenting and family functioning. And to do so often in environments were economic resources are limited and risks are high. 78% of maltreatment is neglect – it is the elephant in the room …and while relationship breakdowns are part of it – the issues here are more basic and requiring reframing of questions asked as we do evaluations in court. If “relationship” is our focus what qualities are required to have a relationship with a child that meets community standards of adequate parenting ? We have learned much from neuroscience in the last decade about the impact of stressors on children and the parenting qualities and systems qualities that either protect them or do not. Negative health outcomes and academic outcomes are the best documented outcomes. We have to map our parenting evaluations to these outcomes – some of the most important capacities have to do with organization and planning capacities and flexibility of parents. Newer developmental models have focused on predictability of the environment of the child, along with its harshness. Understanding neglect takes us into arenas where we who do human services have less expertise – injury prevention, money management, health care capacities, basic skills (e.g., ability to tell time to get children off to school, bedtime rituals so children get adequate sleep), etc. There are a high density of parents in the CPS system for neglect who have cognitive impairments that suggest a high probability of difficulties with these issues. I am not talking about IQ but rather more fine grained problems with executive functioning, problem solving, appraisal biases. I have said this before in a post on this list serve. We have organized as a research community to map DNA and I think we need to organize as researchers to map parenting and family environments so that we can frame the questions better regarding parenting and to have measures to then assess qualities of parenting. Courts tell us what they want which is within their understanding and we need to tell them what they most need to make the very difficult judgments they are being asked to make. Observations of parenting may be part of what they need but even these need to be designed in ways to get at the capacities that are most telling (longer than what is typically done and measuring a broader set of capacities that are more fine grained and across multiple settings of child caregiving). And these need to be coupled with measurement of qualities we have been neglected such as injury beliefs/attitudes linked to actual monitoring and safety actions, home hygiene, medical care skills, emergency skills, how to set up a homework setting that will allow for the child to focus, etc. I have been testing some measures with neglect sample (with help of NICHD funding to test a model of parenting risk) and hope over time with a large sample to have a selection of measures that have validity. If we all agreed to use a battery or some subset of a battery of measures, we might move on this topic. Sandra Azar Professor of Psychology Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA From: bounce-114244225-6833833list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-114244225-6833833list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Sarah Dauber Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 1:19 PM To: child-maltreatment-research-Lcornell.edu Subject: looking for valid measures of parent-child relationship quality and attachment Hello, I am looking for standardized, validated measures of parent-child relationship quality to be used in a research study evaluating a therapeutic supervised visitation program for child welfare involved families. We are looking to evaluate the program for children ages 5-10 (approximately) so I need to find measures that are valid for that age group. I would like to assess parent-child attachment and/or quality of parenting/parent-child interaction. I’m looking for observational coding systems that can be used to code a structured interaction task between parent and child and also either self-report or observational measures of quality of attachment bond between parent and child. We are evaluating the relationship between and child and a non-custodial parent so the measure would need to be valid in a case where the child and parent don’t live together and don’t see each other very often. Any suggestions would be most appreciated! Thank you. Sarah Dauber, Ph.D. Director of Research and Evaluation The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children 161 William Street-9th Floor New York, NY 10038 Tel: (212) 233-5500 ext. 224 Fax: (212) 791-5227 Email: sdaubernyspcc.org