The Center for Research on Families is excited to help bring one of our new initiatives to UMass’s new Mount Ida Campus in Newton this spring. Risk and Resilience in the Lives of Young Families is an innovative course that CRF helped develop through a unique partnership with the Children’s Trust, a statewide agency whose goal is to prevent child abuse. Children’s Trust funds and provides training and support for Healthy Families programs across the state. The Psychology course was taught for the first time in Springfield in Fall of 2017 and it is now being taught at the Mount Ida campus during the 2019 Spring semester.
This unique, interdisciplinary course, which is open to selected Healthy Families home visitors along with current UMass students, taps the knowledge of the home visitors while bringing a research-based framework to bear on topics such as parenting styles and strategies, high risk families, families and culture and more. Dr. Miriam Evans heads the instructional team and she collaborates with Meg Manning and Lee MacKinnon, family training specialists from Children’s Trust.
The students will examine research and practice that address thought-provoking and challenging questions such as: What skills can families learn that will build their resilience in the face of challenges? What is unique about adolescent parenting? How does father involvement impact outcomes for children? What factors impact the decision to breastfeed? What is the best way to work with families dealing with both trauma and substance abuse issues? Faculty from UMass Amherst, including CFR Director, Maureen Perry-Jenkins, along with community practitioners have committed their time and expertise to presenting their research.
Students will develop projects that will incorporate research with their own experiential learning into a presentation or product that can be used to enhance their work with colleagues and families. The course is one step towards creating a pathway to college for professionals who often gain intensive field-based knowledge but lack the opportunity to gain college credit and earn degrees. UMass students who participate can benefit from the unique opportunity to learn from professionals working in the field about the challenges and rewards of working with at-risk families.