Date of Award

Summer 8-8-2017

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Baggett

Second Advisor

Dr. John R. Lutzker

Third Advisor

Dr. Kate Guastaferro


The purpose of this capstone project was to generate recommendations for developing an informed research plan to examine the effects of the SafeCare PCI module on the language environment and expressive communication of toddlers in low socioeconomic homes. A summary of an applied research experience is presented as a foundation for highlighting challenges, lessons learned, and recommendations for future research on the effectiveness of child neglect prevention focused interventions for addressing the 30-million-word gap and improving child language outcomes.

My applied research experience involved piloting research procedures for a case study of a child neglect prevention focused intervention, the SafeCare Parent Child Interaction (PCI) module. Research procedures included preassessment, implementation of the SafeCare PCI module, intervention related data collection and postassessment. A multi-method assessment approach was used, which included pre- and postmeasures of direct observation of child expressive language, and home-based recording of parent and child talk, and parent report of child language as well as chaos in the home.

Eight lessons learned emerged from observed research challenges. These lessons summarize piloted procedures that did not work well, such as the lack of training and implementation fidelity, unrealistic demands on participants, and limited comparable data. Lessons learned also include procedures that worked well such as the utilization of a standardized toy and timed interaction for SafeCare PCI skills assessment.

Recommendations for future research include: the establishment of standardized recording procedures, documentation of parent reported life changes, and procedures to send consistent reminders to participants.