Adversity: Helping Families Thrive

Adversity: Helping Families Thrive

All families face struggles. At the Shaw Center, we try to understand the challenges that families face and how to best navigate and protect against these challenges.

Project Name Description
BRAVE Young Families The objective of this study is to gain a better understanding of how intimate partner violence affects the health and development of mothers and their children.
Children and Marital Aggression Exposure to marital psychological and physical abuse has been established as a risk factor for children's socio-emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems.  Understanding the processes by which children develop symptoms of psychopathology and deficits in regulatory processes and cognitive functioning in the context of marital aggression is imperative for developing efficient and effective treatment programs for children and families, and has far-reaching mental health implications.     
Couples and Kids The longitudinal study investigated the ways couples handle everyday problems and how their interactions affect school-aged children. Data collection began in January 1999 until October 2003, and approximately 300 two-parent families (mothers, fathers, and one child) participated.
Food for Families 'Food for Families' is a project designed to assess the feasibility and evaluate the impact of a backpack program which provides food for children over the weekend. Cultivate Food Rescue gathers donated food from area vendors (such as Venue ND and ND Athletics) that has been prepared, but never served. They then work with highly-trained volunteers to package it into six individual meals in an insulated backpack. The backpacks are then distributed to hundreds of food-insecure students through their schools. By providing an incentive for school attendance and eliminating hunger over the weekend, this program has the potential to improve school attendance and improve in-school behavior, therefore enhancing the children’s ability to learn.     
Me and My Family The Me and My Family Project is a longitudinal, dual-site study with data collection taking place both under Dr. E. Mark Cummings at the University of Notre Dame and Dr. Patrick Davies at the University of Rochester. The primary goal of this project was to explicitly test a comprehensive model of the role of the children's emotional security in the family to understand the relationship between marital conflict and child adjustment.  While the quality of marital relations has long been known to affect family functioning and child development, there is little understanding of the specific processes by which marital relations impact families and children. The project also seeks to understand these processes in the context of broader family functioning including many aspects of the marital and parent-child relationship and parent psychopathology as they contribute to children's development.  
The Heart to Heart project The focus of the Heart to Heart project is to learn more about children's well-being and how mothers can best support their children. We are also interested in the biological rhythms of families. Prior research tells us that mothers play an important role in a child's development. We are testing a new program that tries to help mothers support their children by learning new ways to talk to them.
The Northern Ireland Project The Northern Ireland Project is a longitudinal study of relations between political violence and the well-being of children living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Utilizing an ecological, process-oriented model, the study seeks to better understand the pathways between political and sectarian community violence and ordinary crime, family functioning, and adolescents' adjustment with a comprehensive theoretical framework.
The Pregnant Moms' Empowerment Program This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a group therapy program for pregnant women who have recently experienced conflict with a partner, including psychological, sexual and physical forms of abuse.
The SPARC Project (Supporting Parent-Adolescent Relationships and Communication) The Notre Dame SPARC Project is a program designed to support communication and strengthen relationships in families that include a child with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD). In particular, the SPARC project is geared toward supporting parents and typically developing adolescent siblings of individuals with IDD by promoting effective communication and conflict resolution between couples and also between parents and their typically developing children. The goal of the study is to evaluate how best to support parents and typically developing siblings of individuals with IDD by improving communication and strengthening family relationships.