ACEs Connection

Healthy, happy kids grow up to create a healthy, happy world.

Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change (6 min)

This 5-minute video depicts a theory of change from the Frontiers of Innovation community for achieving breakthrough outcomes for vulnerable children and families. It describes the need to focus on building the capabilities of caregivers and strengthening the communities that together form the environment of relationships essential to children's lifelong learning, health, and behavior.
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Comment by Robbyn Peters Bennett on June 12, 2013 at 6:54am

Shelley, I think you should approach Dr. Shonkoff for an endorsement!

Comment by Marion Donohoe on June 12, 2013 at 5:11am
Excellent demonstration of capacity building and how to implement needed changes!
Comment by Shelley Calissendorff on June 11, 2013 at 1:22pm

A Commentary on

“Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change” from The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

By Shelley Calissendorff, Founder and Executive Director, Smile At Your Baby!

June 11, 2013



With widespread, improved parent/infant bonding and attachment, Smile At Your Baby! (SAYB) believes there will be fewer instances of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as well as a reduction in so many other social, mental, and emotional issues including (but not limited to): child abuse/neglect, the need for children to enter foster care, bullying, animal abuse, obesity, teenage pregnancy, high school drop-outs, substance abuse, violence, crime prison and even early death.


Through our BABY BIT program, SAYB is working to reduce the occurrence of early childhood trauma/toxic stress/ACEs.  While we agree with the recent “Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change” video produced and released by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, that the best way to improve parenting skills is through “Active Skill Building,” including coaching, training and practice, we also feel that since “Active Skill Building” is not yet widely available to all who need it (not even close), that BABY BITS can help in the interim and/or as an additional tool. Making progress in this movement need not be an all or nothing proposition.  It needn’t be, “Active Skill Building,” OR dissemination of well researched “advice and information.” 


Not all parents have access to transportation or childcare, or have reliable Internet access.  Many parents will not participate in parenting education due to their perceived social stigma or taboo against admitting to having parenting needs or problems that cannot be solved without assistance [Curran ’89, Levant ’87, Mertensmeyer & Thornburg ’98, Powell et al ‘90].  But MOST of them DO have a cell phone.  According to research published in 2013 by The Pew Research Center, 82% of low-income American’s own cell phones, and among young adults age 18-24, 95% own a cell phone. In at least 39 U.S. States, recipients of food stamps or other government assistance program benefits can now choose to receive a free or very low cost cell phone instead of the traditional land telephone line. 


SAYB sincerely believes that by NOT taking advantage of the accessibility and discretion that cell phones provide, we are not doing everything possible to improve outcomes for our children. This venue is untapped for parenting education--at least when it comes to social/emotional/mental/behavior needs.

[Text4Baby (which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson) sends text messages 3 times a week on nutrition, safety and vaccination issues.  Smile At Your Baby! does NOT broach  those issues at all.]


I would like to invite Dr. Jack Shonkoff, and the Center on the Developing Child to embrace and endorse Smile At Your Baby!’s BABY BIT program and include it as a part of the solution to improving child outcomes. 

Comment by Robbyn Peters Bennett on June 11, 2013 at 8:29am

Great video! Thank you.  I posted it to the Stop Spanking FACEBOOK.  We are developing a list of on-line parenting resources, because many parents are more likely to watch videos and read short parenting snippets of advice on their i-phone than to have the time to pick up a child development book.

Here is our resource page:

Comment by Donna Woodard on June 6, 2013 at 6:02pm

This is my build the capabilities of caregivers in child care programs to provide the extended community of relationships (safe, stable, nurturing relationships) that contribute to the child's resilience.

Comment by Shelley Calissendorff on June 3, 2013 at 1:58pm

Outstanding!  Good work Dr. Shonkoff and crew!  Smile At Your Baby! LOVES it!  :D  

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