Filming Interactions to Nurture Development (FIND) is a video coaching program that aims to strengthen positive interactions between caregivers and children. It uses select clips of adults engaging with children to reinforce the kinds of “serve and return” responses that are the foundation of healthy development.
This video tells the story of the FIND project and how Washington state social service providers are using video clips of parents interacting with their young children to help parents identify their own strengths and learn which interactions best promote healthy development.
Science tells us that serve and return interactions are essential to the development of brain architecture. When adults interact with children in a caring, responsive way, they help build and reinforce neural connections in a child’s brain that support the development of important cognitive, social, and language skills. If an adult’s responses are consistently unreliable, inappropriate, or simply absent, children may experience disruptions to their physical, mental, and emotional health.
The Theory of Change
By strengthening caregivers’ serve and return skills through video coaching, the FIND team encourages the types of positive interactions that are critical to healthy child development. Building serve and return skills is a simple, yet powerful way to build the environment of relationships that promote resilience and help children reach their full potential. Read more about how theories of change guide program design and evaluation.
Intervention: The “How”
FIND coaches film families for 10 minutes as they engage in everyday activities, such as playing a game or having a snack. The coaches then edit down the footage to three brief clips that highlight positive instances of parent-child interaction, and share these with the caregiver in weekly structured coaching sessions. In reviewing these moments, coaches facilitate caregivers’ understanding of how engaging in serve and return can promote the child’s development.
FIND micro-trials have been completed within several contexts: an early childhood home visitation program; a rural home-based childcare setting; and with a sample of at-risk fathers. A pilot project is currently underway to implement FIND in infant and toddler daycare settings in Washington state, with plans in motion to scale the intervention in two phases throughout the state.
Initial testing of FIND began with training Early Head Start home visitors at Children’s Home Society of Washington (CHSW) as FIND coaches. CHSW coaches completed the 10-week pilot with nine families. CHSW coaches also worked with the developers of FIND and Holly Schindler, a researcher at the University of Washington, to adapt the FIND materials to Dr. Schindler’s population of interest, at-risk fathers. FIND was also implemented in a rural in-home childcare setting (Hope for the Future Child Care and Preschool). This road test gave the team a chance to assess the adaptability of the model for use with childcare providers as well as the feasibility of implementation in a rural location. The coaching sessions for experienced childcare provider Lorri Hope were successfully provided via videoconference. Lorri then went on to coach several families served by her program in FIND. Lorri says the intervention helped create a “common language” for communicating with parents.
FIND was also at the Hope for the Future Child Care and Preschool to assess its effectiveness within a home-based child care setting. The coaching sessions were provided both in-person and via videoconference. The owner of Hope for the Future says the intervention helped create a “common language” for communicating with parents.
What We’ve Learned
Children whose caregivers participated in FIND increased on a measure of self-regulation over the 10-week pilot period. Children also demonstrated increases in their level of protective factors, such as their ability to form relationships, get their needs met, and regulate strong emotions, which encourage positive child outcomes and may buffer children from the negative effects of stress. The primary goal of the next round of FIND evaluation is to determine whether changes in caregiving—including the increase of serve and return activity—drive these changes in child self-regulation.
A “fast-cycle learning” approach has been important to the implementation of this project’s intervention strategy. As researchers and practitioners learn more and share feedback about the program, they use these reflections to continually adapt and refine their processes. This constant incorporation of new learning led to several changes from the initial pilot at CHSW. First, based on feedback from the home visiting staff, the FIND program designers refined the program manual in order to simplify the text and clarify a number of concepts. Additionally, practitioner and researcher reflection helped to streamline the process for sending and receiving video files for analysis, resulting in a far more cost-effective solution that maintained participant confidentiality. Finally, in order to build internal capacity, staff members at CHSW were trained to edit the video footage themselves. The researchers developed and have employed a protocol for editor certification to ensure the reliability of the edited footage.
Learning continued in the cycles to follow. As above, Lorri Hope’s work with the FIND team confirmed that the materials could be successfully adapted for childcare providers and that the intervention could be delivered via videoconference to serve a rural population. The project with Dr. Schindler included an effective planning phase, including the use of focus group meetings with the population of interest (in this case, fathers) to assess feasibility. As a result, the implementation benefited from adaptations such as switching out images in the materials to depict fathers as caregivers, and planning for sessions to be scheduled after work hours or on weekends.