Brief stress reduction strategies associated with better behavioral climate in a crisis nursery: A pilot study

Carrie E. DePasquale, Anna Parenteau, Molly Kenney, Megan R. Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Approximately 3.5 million children in the United States were reported to Child Protective Services in 2016. Effective, developmentally-informed programs are critically necessary to support under-resourced families at risk of child abuse. This study implemented a module of mindfulness-based stress reduction strategies in partnership with a community organization whose goal is to keep families together while reducing the risk of child abuse by providing short-term (3-day) overnight crisis care for birth through 6-year-olds. Group-level assessment of child behaviors was used to assess child functioning at the program level. Children's Services staff were trained in brief stress reduction strategies, with the intention that they be used with the children regularly throughout the day to help the children be emotionally calm and behaviorally regulated. Ordinal logistic regressions suggested that, over the six months preceding implementation (April – September 2017) compared to six months following completion of implementation (February – July 2018), the introduction of stress-reduction strategies was associated with significantly increased self-regulatory behavior and coping skills, but not decreased aggressive behavior. Additionally, staff frequently (approximately 65% of the time) endorsed the strategies as being effective. Though the evidence is preliminary, the unique context of the crisis nursery coupled with the measurement of program-level outcomes furthers our understanding of the scalable impact mindfulness-based stress reduction strategies can have with children experiencing chronic stress and/or trauma in a very hard-to-reach population. Implementation challenges are discussed, as are the implications of stress reduction strategies as a useful, efficient method to improve self-regulation in children experiencing adversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104813
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume110
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thank you to Anna E. Johnson for providing materials and guidance for the development of the mindfulness module. We would also like to thank Mary Pat Lee, Hareen Lankford, and all of the Children's Services staff at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery for their tireless efforts to help coordinate this project. Also, thank you to the families and children for their participation. This work was supported by Frontiers of Innovation [#256536-5107396 and #256529-5109173] to MK and small group consultation, and by National Institute for Mental Health training grant [T32 MH015755] to CED. Additional support was provided to the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery from several private funders. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the views of the National Institutes of Health. Declarations of interest.

Funding Information:
Thank you to Anna E. Johnson for providing materials and guidance for the development of the mindfulness module. We would also like to thank Mary Pat Lee, Hareen Lankford, and all of the Children’s Services staff at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery for their tireless efforts to help coordinate this project. Also, thank you to the families and children for their participation. This work was supported by Frontiers of Innovation [#256536-5107396 and #256529-5109173] to MK and small group consultation, and by National Institute for Mental Health training grant [T32 MH015755] to CED. Additional support was provided to the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery from several private funders. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the views of the National Institutes of Health .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright:
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Child care
  • High-risk
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-regulation
  • Stress reduction

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