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Public Policy

Public Policy

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Public Policy

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  1. Public Policy • Early intervention efforts and public policy • Adolescent intervention efforts and public policy • Primary prevention of psychopathology and public policy—working toward a just society

  2. Early Childhood Intervention and Public Policy (Zigler) • Early efforts in the 1960’s • Reliance on deficit model • White, middle-class values superior to minority, lower-class values • Teach white, middle-class values to others who lack them • Boost IQ • Inoculate children early in development • More recent efforts • Reliance on differences model • All children from all backgrounds have strengths and weaknesses • Low SES children more creative • Middle SES children perform better on conventional achievement tests • Parent involvement– participative ownership which results in a feeling of empowerment • Improve social competence, not simply boost IQ to inoculate against early deprivation

  3. Physical health—weight, illnesses, head circumference, etc. • Formal cognition • Achievement • Motivational and emotional variables • Improve community response to problems associated with poverty • Make intervention continuous rather than contained within critical period • Program evaluation of Head Start • Early efforts to evaluate Head Start • Short-term boost of IQ • Attributes to motivational changes that did not boost intelligence but rather IQ test scores

  4. Later efforts to evaluate Head Start • Evaluation of social competence • Community changes • Family changes—in siblings and parents (diffusion effect) • Cost-benefit analysis– how much intervention costs versus how much it saves taxpayers • “How long would the child have to watch Sesame Street to get his teeth filled?” (p. 901) (1,600 for 60c per child) • Difficulties with multi-site studies • Comparison of programs difficult because no quality control • Differences in populations served • Differences in rigor and method of data collection • Differences in control subjects, who perform better at Time 1 than Head Start subjects (nonrandomized) • Conduct high-quality, smaller evaluations, then conduct meta-analysis of data

  5. Future needs for Head Start and other early interventions programs • Maintain quality of staff • Maintain staff/child ratios • Provide day-long care for working, single mothers • Extend services earlier in child’s life • “experimenting society”– empirically assessing and validating early intervention programs (cf. IDP Study)

  6. Adolescent Intervention and Public Policy (Hobbs) • Two emphases in studies of development • Biological, maturational unfolding of behavior • Unique importance of early development within critical period • Effects of second emphasis on early intervention • Attempts to “inoculate” kids within crucial critical period • Negligence of development later in lifespan, particularly adolescence • Attempts at vocational job training rather than true education of traditional academic skills– reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic • Remedial placements produced self-fulfilling prophecie of failure

  7. Recent attempts to demonstrate efficacy of adolescent intervention • Creative attempts to intervene with adolescents who have experienced early deprivation to teach academic skills • Intelligence may not necessarily decline after adolescence • Formal schooling in adolescence can affect problem-solving ability, whereas earlier Piagetian stages of cognitive development are always achieved • Feyerstein has demonstrated remediation of cognitive deficits in adolescents labeled developmentally delayed or “retarded”

  8. Policy recommendations • Teach delayed adolescents cognitive and academic skills in nontraditional settings • Evaluate these programs to assess efficacy, both short and long-term

  9. Primary Prevention of Psychopathology and Public Policy—Working Toward a Just Society (Albee) • Primary prevention efforts have followed public health strategies • Difficulty in appropriating these strategies because psychopathology is difficult to define, assess improvement • Psychiatry has called for identification of specific organic cause of each mental illness to prevent psychopathology • Mental-illness definitions are variables (e.g., changes made in DSM)

  10. Mental illness is highly associated with social conditions • Racism • Sexism • Powerlessness • Poverty • Hopelessness • Ageism • Abuse • Prevention conducted through stress reduction, increased self-esteem, mutual support groups, and community organization • Work toward reducing poverty, disease, and powerlessness first

  11. Obstacles to working toward a just society • Belief in just world • Social Darwinism • Fatalistic view • Meaningless existence—inaction • Meaningless existence—make our own meaning • Problems with this view • Scapegoating religion • Exonerating fatalists • Overlooking mediating and moderating variables of social conditions (e.g., attachment) • Can we make a difference within a capitalistic economic system?