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 journalArticle


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
StatePublished - Mar 2020



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

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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