Established in 2003, Dr. Letourneau’s Child Health Implementation and Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Studies Program has been focused on understanding, intervening, and translating knowledge about the importance of early experiences to children’s lifelong developmental health. Recently, she expanded the CHILD Studies Program to include a new focus on innovative training for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to undertake community-engaged implementation science research. Together, these approaches are designed to promote system changes to improve the lives of children and families affected by early adversities. These foci are encapsulated in five CHILD Studies Program objectives:
To understand impacts of socio-environmental exposures on children’s mental health, neurodevelopment, and other health outcomes (e.g. inflammation) with a focus on parental perinatal depression and anxiety, family violence, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
To understand underlying mechanisms, mediators, and moderators (e.g. epigenetic patterns, genetic plasticity, cortisol, child sex, parent-child relationship qualities including sensitivity and responsiveness, maternal-child attachment security) of the association between socio-environmental exposures and children’s outcomes in objective 1.
To develop and test interventions to support vulnerable children’s mental health, neurodevelopment, and other health outcomes in families affected by parental perinatal depression and anxiety, family violence, and ACEs.
To translate research findings in multiple traditional and novel ways to achieve the largest possible audience, uptake, and impact.
To train the next generation of scientists to undertake community-engaged implementation science research designed to improve services and programs for children and families (especially girls, women, and gender-diverse people) exposed to early adversity.