Touchpoints in Tribal Communities

We recently explored the impact of Touchpoints training and reflective coaching as a framework for over 10 community organizations that serve families with children birth to 8 years of age.  We found that Touchpoints was embraced as a useful approach for providers working in early childhood, health services, school, and family support services in a Native community.

In an ongoing large-scale community assessment, 88% of providers reported using the Touchpoints approach in their practice; they felt that Touchpoints impacted their ability to promote learning or support those who promote learning (82%) and implement child guidance strategies (82%). 100% of these providers said that they would continue to use the approach because they felt it improved their relationships with other community providers (100%) and was helpful for children and families (88%). They also reported that Touchpoints improved their understanding of child development (94%), including children’s social-emotional development (94%), physical development (80%), and behavioral and emotional functioning (88%).

When asked how Touchpoints was most helpful, providers responded that it encourages:

  • Connection with parents & the opportunity to build relationships with families (88%)
  • A better clinic environment
  • Nonjudgmental practice & a strength-based perspective about challenging families
  • A framework for what a Native community should be  and was before historical trauma
  • The  ethics and practice of Native traditions

Touchpoints reinforced providers’ understanding of Ojibwe culture and language (66%) and helped providers support children and families from a variety of cultural backgrounds (93%).

Providers also felt better equipped to manage children with developmental and/or behavioral concerns. They felt prepared to ask for help (83%) and talk with families about concerns (94%).

A second study of a parenting intervention using TP principles with Early Head Start families yielded positive results regarding families’ knowledge of child development and Native culture and their sense of efficacy as caregivers.  The intervention consisted of the following:

  • A 6-week parenting component focusing on specific topics of early childhood development.
  • A 4-week cultural component focusing on the circle of life of Ojibwa culture.  The curriculum helps parents reflect on their own personal upbringing and family history for the purpose of recognizing their role in their child’s development.  Parents reflect on their children and imagine their goals for their children.
  • Cultural activities, we offered parents an opportunityto build their relationships with their children and with each other by participating in various cultural events and activities together. Families who participate in this intervention:
    1. Improve their knowledge of child development from baseline to post intervention (p <0.05; Cohen’s d = 1.09)
    2. Improve their knowledge of cultural teachings related to childrearing (p <0.05; Cohen’s d = 1.56)
    3. Report fewer concerns about their child’s problem behaviors.  (ASQ Questionnaire)

When families connect to their cultural identities and learn about their cultures’ childrearing traditions and practices, they discover their own sense of competence as caregivers.

Results suggest that Early Head Start programs can enhance parental factors associated with positive child development outcomes by incorporating cultural traditions and practices of the families served into parent engagement efforts.