• By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Monday 22nd October, 2007

How Penn State has written a strategy for effective intervention

Since it was established in 1997 Penn State’s Prevention Research Center (PRC) has become a focal point for the connection between prevention science, policy and practice.Success of the work on home territory has led to wide application of its methods in trials across the world. Earlier in the month, Prevention Action reported on a presentation by PRC director Mark Greenberg in Belfast Ireland, part of a longer visit to support a major drive to improve outcomes for children on that island, funded by philanthropy and the two governments. [See: Lurgan comes together for Together 4 All and How to be sure the song remains the same. ]The hallmark of PRC science is longitudinal developmental research on risk and protective factors. It is notable, too, for its efforts to understand the effects on child development of conditions within communities, schools, and families and to reckon with common methodological problems, such as the modeling and handling of longitudinal data.But it is the tenacity with which the Center set about bringing its science home to policy and practice that has become PRC’s hallmark. The use of evidence to improve children's self-regulation and behavior by applying ground-breaking proven models, such as PATHs, is already well known outside the US.The impact of those strategies among over 100 communities inside Pennsylvania has had less coverage internationally. And so to complete the PRC picture, on tomorrow's page, Brian Bumbarger and Daniel Perkins will report on the 'Prosper project', a randomised controlled trial across 28 communities in their home state and in Iowa that has been testing the effectiveness of the Center's approach to science-based community empowerment.On Wednesday, we carry a profile of Tom Dishion, Director of the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon, who on Thursday evening gives this year's Bennett Lecture on ecological approaches to family intervention and treatment.Established in 2002 when Michael Rutter from the Institute of Psychiatry, London, delivered the inaugural address, the Bennett Lectureship honors world leaders in the field. Recipients have included David Hawkins from the University of Washington, Seattle; Irwin Sandler from the Program Research Center at Arizona State University; David Olds from the Prevention Research Center for Family and Child Health at the University of Colorado and Mary Ann Pentz, Director of the Center for Prevention Policy Research at the University of Southern California.The Lectureship is named after Edna Bennett Pierce, a member of what the Penn State community calls the "Famous 500", the first freshman class of women admitted to the University following World War 2. Edna Bennett Pierce earned her bachelor’s degree in home economics with an emphasis in child development in 1953.PRC week ends with a commentary from director Mark Greenberg. Further special editions follow from Australia and India as we searches for the best science and application to policy and practice around the world.

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