Social Work professor receives NIH grant to study early childhood development and risk

Samantha Brown, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Colorado State University, is a recipient of an R03 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a project examining the role of both mothers and fathers in shaping early childhood development and risk.

Awarded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the funding will help researchers learn more about how child maltreatment happens and what prevention and intervention programming works best to promote health and wellness among infants and their caregivers.

Child maltreatment is a significant public health issue with harmful consequences on child health and development. In addition, child maltreatment disproportionately impacts children in their first year of life.

colorado state university school of social work assistant professor samantha brown
Samantha Brown, Assistant Professor in Colorado State University's School of Social Work

Brown’s study, “Father-Infant and Mother-Infant Biobehavioral Coregulation in Families at Risk of Maltreatment,” will examine how mothers and fathers interact with their infants, and how these interactions may serve as risk or protective factors in influencing harsh parenting, such as child maltreatment, as well as in shaping their children’s health and development.

“The goal of this work is to identify behaviors that may be unique to mother-child versus father-child dyads and that can be modified in intervention to promote healthy development for children living in high-risk environments,” said Brown.

“We will be identifying ways to foster healthy relationships that may in turn aid in preventing maltreatment risk and promoting infant health and development, Brown said. “Specifically, we are identifying how coordinated these interactions are between parent and child, or the extent to which a parent and child regulate one another over the course of an interaction.”

Brown is the director of the Parent-Child Relationships & Well-Being Lab, which works with children and families to understand child and family health and developmental outcomes, and provide prevention resources for families, particularly those who experience low-income or are living in high-risk environments.

For more information about Dr. Brown’s study, click here.

The School of Social Work is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.