School Reform and Beyond


This project is one component of the larger School Reform and Beyond (SRB) project. SRB is a multi-site, multi-collaborator project coordinated at the Center for Advancing Research and Solutions for Society (CARSS) at the University of Michigan, is a series of “vertically-integrated” interventions designed to close the achievement gap separating the academic achievements and development-enhancing assets of low-income children from those of their same-age but higher-income peers, prior to middle school. SRB focuses on three targets: strategies to help pre-K and early elementary children in their early transition to school, strategies to help children in the early years of life attain school-readiness, and non-school strategies to improve children’s school outcomes.  This project focuses on children in the early years of life (0-3 years).

This study of the 0-3 year age range tests a comprehensive approach to the enhancement of school readiness in low-income families through enhancement of positive parenting practices within the pediatric primary care platform.  We do so by integrating two evidence-based interventions: (1) a universal primary prevention strategy, Video Interaction Project (VIP), that provides parents with a developmental specialist who videotapes the parent and child and coaches the parent on effective parenting practices; and (2) Family Check Up (FCU) a home-based, family-centered intervention that utilizes an initial ecologically-focused assessment to promote motivation for parents to change child-rearing behaviors, with follow-up sessions on parenting and factors that compromise parenting quality for families with infants/toddlers identified as having additional risks.

Three pediatric primary care settings serving a single low-income community and sharing a common organizational structure under the auspices of St. Barnabas Hospital, Bronx, New York City will be utilized to test our integrated intervention: a hospital-based clinic, a community health center, and a private practice, providing information about translation across venue. Also, we will leverage the practice network developed by an initiative known as Reach Out and Read (ROR) providing an infrastructure for later translation.

The largest single contribution made by this study is to test in pediatric primary care whether an integrated primary-secondary-tertiary prevention strategy can produce impacts on early child outcomes identified as precursors to later substance abuse risk, such as aggression and opposition, and low pre-academic skills. As such, this study has the potential to provide the scientific and practice communities with information about an innovative approach to reducing risk among low-income children.


Pamela A. Morris, Professor of Applied Psychology, New York University

See Dr. Morris’s faculty page at New York University here:

Alan L. Mendelsohn, Associate Professor; Program Director Fellow Developmental-Pediatrics, NYU Langone Medical Center


Dr. Alan Mendelsohn has an established track record in research focusing on poverty-related disparities in school readiness, and the potential for improved outcomes through pediatric primary care based interventions that focus on enhanced parenting. Most relevant to this proposal, he is the Principal Investigator of an NICHD R01-funded randomized clinical trial of the Video Interaction Project (VIP), “Promoting Early School Readiness in Primary Health Care”. He also has a strong background in clinical research methodology, as demonstrated by his role at the New York University School of Medicine NIH-funded Clinical Translational Science Institute, where he is a Course Director and member of its Scientific Review Committee. National recognition for Dr. Mendelsohn’s work related to VIP, Reach Out and Read (ROR) and electronic media exposure in young children, has resulted in his recent appointment to the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Early Childhood.  

Daniel Shaw, Professor and Department Chair, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh


Dr. Shaw has spent the past 29 years studying the early predictors of child problem behavior, including observational assessments of parent-child interaction in early childhood linked to early conduct and school readiness difficulties. In addition, during the past 10 years he has played a key role in adapting Dishion’s Family Check Up for use with infants and toddlers, the focus of the present study. His work in this area is currently supported by several NIH grants studying very similar issues as the current application, including a K05 Senior Research Service Award.

Research Staff

Julia Fries


Julia Fries is a full time research assistant for the School Reform and Beyond project at New York University.  She graduated with honors from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Women's Health.