The Brazelton Touchpoints Center strives to ensure the health and well-being of future generations by promoting healthy outcomes for infants and young children, regardless of their life circumstances. The Center is dedicated to optimizing family and community resources to build strong foundations for learning and development in the earliest years. We can make a lasting difference if we start early.
What is Touchpoints?
- An evidence-based theory of child development, based upon more than 60 years of ground-breaking research by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and his colleagues at Children’s Hospital in Boston and in communities around the world
- A practical method for strengthening parent-child relationships, beginning even before a child is born and continuing through the early childhood years
- A tool that helps parents understand the disorganization and regressions that may accompany their children’s developmental spurts – and what they can do to ease the stress
- An ongoing opportunity for parents and providers to carefully watch and help each other understand children’s behaviors, strengths, and growing capacities
- An approach that enhances the ability of pediatricians, nurses, early educators, home visitors, and other professionals to support parents – enabling them to “touch into” the family system when their involvement is most likely to be appreciated and their messages most likely to be helpful
- A common language of child behavior and development that enables families and providers to work together and professionals to collaborate across silos
- An adaptable, culturally-sensitive way of working that engages a community’s heritage, assets, and self-strengthening capacities on behalf of its young children
- A network of organizations and collaborations in more than 100 communities who learn from and with each other
- A set of values, principles, and tested strategies that can guide systems change
- An ongoing research-to-practice and practice-to-research program
What difference does Touchpoints make and how do we know?
Touchpoints facilitates improved child outcomes by enhancing relationships and practical child development knowledge in families, programs, and in early care and education, health, and welfare systems. It reconnects families with their communities in ways that build hope and reduce stress.
- When public health nurse home visitors implemented Touchpoints, researchers documented:
- increases in health-promoting practices, including longer breast feeding, up-to-date well child visits and immunizations, reduction of second-hand smoke exposure, and improved fire-prevention, outdoor, and car safety practices
- fewer sick child and emergency room visits
- lower incidence of maternal depression
- When early care and education providers received Touchpoints training and reflective coaching, parents:
- felt that providers were more supportive of parent expertise, expressed increased confidence in their providers, and reported better, more collaborative relationships with their providers
- showed less stress in general, and more stable stress levels over time, compared to families without trained providers
- When professionals responsible for child assessment, child welfare, and program oversight received Touchpoints training, evaluations documented:
- improved knowledge of child development, improved understanding of stresses faced by families and providers during children’s periods of developmental disorganization, and improved assessment skills
- improved relations and strength-based practice with colleagues, supervisees, and community service providers
- When parents participated in a Touchpoints-informed parenting education program with a strong cultural component, they:
- gained knowledge of child development and cultural child-rearing teachings
- reported fewer concerns about their young children’s behaviors
- Tribal, urban, and rural communities that have historically resisted outside interference have embraced Touchpoints. In a comprehensive study in one tribal community, providers in 10 organizations overwhelmingly reported:
- improved understanding of child development, improved ability to talk with families about behavioral concerns, and improved efficacy in working with children with behavioral or developmental concerns
- that they would continue to use Touchpoints because it improved their relationships with families and other providers (100%!)
The effects of Touchpoints on parental competence, engagement, motivation, and hope, and on provider knowledge, principles, and strategies for engaging parents in their children’s learning and development, are not a replacement for services that address the wide range of health, educational, nutritional, housing, legal, and material needs of impoverished families. Touchpoints enhances the efficacy of these services and improves family well-being.
What does the Brazelton Touchpoints Center do?
- Provides professional development in Touchpoints and its application in diverse settings and circumstances
- Develops, supports, and promotes tools such as the Newborn Behavioral Assessment System (NBAS) and the Newborn Behavioral Observation (NB0) that reveal babies’ unique approaches to self-regulation, interaction, and learning
- Works within existing resources, organizations, and systems of care to provide scalable and sustainable, low-cost, low-tech interventions that build internal capacity and strengthen the collaborative relationships among families, parents, caregivers, providers, and communities
- Works intensively with Touchpoints sites in multi-year relationships, providing collaborative consultation, professional development with reflective coaching, online support, documentation of emerging best practices and challenges, and two-way learning
- Helps providers in a community to align resources to integrate Touchpoints and to collaborate effectively within and across organizations
- Facilitates the exchange of experiences, challenges, and successes among sites in its network
- Develops new knowledge in areas such as working across cultures, engaging fathers as caregivers, and serving families of children with special needs
- Evaluates programs in partnership with participants and stakeholders, using a rigorous, comprehensive, culturally-sensitive methodology
- Translates science into practical strategies
- Partners with institutions of higher education to “shift the paradigm” of professional preparation and practice
- Provides a “speakers bureau” of distinguished faculty
- Works with community leaders and policy-makers to create family-supporting systems based upon new paradigms of partnership and practice