Back to BCEs – Strengthening Families through Benevolent Childhood Experiences

Back to BCEs – Strengthening Families through Benevolent Childhood Experiences

Having studied Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) for many years, Dr. Angela Narayan, an assistant professor in the clinical child psychology doctoral program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver, felt like the field of child abuse prevention research was missing half the story by not also considering the impact of positive childhood experiences.  

Today, Dr. Narayan and the Promoting Resilience in Offspring and Targeting Early Childhood Trajectories (PROTECT) Lab at the University of Denver are leading a research effort focused on Protective Factors. The PROTECT Lab and their efficient yet effective methodologies for research and clinical purposes are working to assess the richness of behaviors, relationships and representations in parents and children – with a particular interest in instruments that can assess resilience processes in ethnically-diverse families.

One line of their work focuses on developing and validating the Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) scale, a 10-item checklist of favorable childhood experiences, relationships and resources that was first created and published by Dr. Narayan and colleagues in an article titled “Positive Childhood Experiences Predict Less Psychopathology and Stress in Pregnant Women with Childhood Adversity: A Pilot Study of the Benevolent Childhood Experiences Scale” (Narayan et al., 2017, Child Abuse and Neglect).

Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) are a counterpoint to ACEs, particularly useful to those in community mental health, pediatric and primary care screening and home visiting programs. After accounting for demographics and ACEs, this research has shown higher levels of BCEs significantly predict lower levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. This research also found that when someone experienced ACEs and not BCEs, there was evidence of aggressive behavior, alcohol abuse and substance use.

This BCEs research has highlighted “the pregnancy period as an opportune window to help buffer the transmission of trauma in families who are at risk for various types of adversity,” said Narayan during her keynote at the 2020 Strengthening Colorado Communities and Families Conference. The BCEs Screening Tool to build resilience in children and families’ lives features ten simple questions found to be culturally sensitive and applicable across a variety of demographic and socio-economic audiences.

If people working with children and families begin to incorporate the FREE BCEs screening tool, there is great potential to prevent child maltreatment and future chronic health problems, mental illness and substance misuse in adulthood, found to be present in the lives of adults who experienced a high number of adverse childhood experiences.

Dr. Angela Narayan

Dr. Angela Narayan

Assistant Professor, University of Denver

Dr. Angela Narayan is an assistant professor in the clinical child psychology doctoral program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver.

Narayan directs the Promoting Resilience in Offspring and Targeting Early Childhood Trajectories (PROTECT) Lab at the University of Denver examining the intergenerational transmission of risk and resilience from parents to children, with a particular focus on the perinatal period as a window of opportunity to buffer the transmission of trauma and promote resilience in both mothers and fathers, and their children. 

Strengthening Families Network

Illuminate Colorado coordinates the Colorado Strengthening Families Network, hosting a quarterly online learning community for professionals across sectors to stay on top of new research and best practices related to the protective factors.

Join the network to get invites to meetings and connect with others to share your work and learn from communities all across Colorado.

Strengthening Families Network Meeting

Monday, November 1, 2021

9am-11am

Virtual

Strengthening Families Network Gets Back to BCEs

Dr. Narayan will join the November 1, 2021 Strengthening Families Network meeting to deliver a refresher on the BCEs tools, share new findings and provide an opportunity for attendees to discuss with peers how this research can be incorporated into the work they are doing with families to increase Protective Factors. During the November meeting, Dr. Narayan is also planning to discuss a conceptual framework for understanding intergenerational prevention strategies for deterring ACEs in families. Those who attend the meeting will have an opportunity to visit with Dr. Narayan in a smaller online setting, which will allow for questions and scenario work to improve application of how incorporating BCEs can strengthen families.

Related Posts

Think You Won’t Fall Asleep? Think Again: Infant Safe Sleep and the Impact of Substance Use

Think You Won’t Fall Asleep? Think Again: Infant Safe Sleep and the Impact of Substance Use

Few things are more exhausting than a new baby. Increased infant crying, perhaps a few older children to care for, and trying to get back to work after a few short weeks all result in very, very tired caregivers.

49122731966_9ae0399ef7_c.jpg

October is Safe Sleep Awareness month. There has been a great deal of information shared this month around what a safe sleep crib looks like. And although it can sound a bit boring, ensuring cribs are free of objects which could lead to suffocation is worth the mental shift from “cute” to “safe”. Talking with all the family and friends who come in contact with baby about safe sleep practices is important to ensure even good-willed intentions do not lead to tragedy.

Adding Substance Use to the Mix

Imagine the last time you were beyond tired. Maybe you found yourself dozing off driving to or from work. Maybe you fell asleep watching a movie you actually wanted to see. Or maybe that last zoom call was just too long to handle. Sometimes our bodies take over even when we have every intention to stay awake.

Now take a moment and imagine adding substances that can lead to additional depression of the body’s ability to function, like alcohol, marijuana, some over the counter and prescription medications, and illicit substances. When contemplating the use of substances with a newborn in the home (separate from breastfeeding risks and substance use) it is important to be extra vigilant in ensuring your baby has a safe place to sleep.

49091376951_01ff807bbd_c.jpg

Caregiving of an infant is exhausting. Falling asleep when feeding a baby on a couch or in bed is not uncommon for a tired caregiver. The impacts and side effects of many common substances increases the risk of positional overlay, which is when a caregiver accidentally rolls over on a baby in bed or on a couch or large chair, suffocating the infant. If you are thinking right now you would totally wake up if you rolled over on a baby, remember the times noted above. You didn’t mean to fall asleep, but you did. And if a caregiver is exhausted, and impacted by substance use, whether they were feeding the baby, or in bed with a baby and an additional caregiver, the risk of positional overlay or entrapment increases. And sleeping on a couch with a baby increases the risk even more, especially when substances are involved.

Increasing Safety in Sleeping Environments

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are several ways to increase safety in sleeping environments, including:

  • Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times—for naps and at night. 
  • Use a firm sleep surface. 
  • Room share—keep baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first 6 months or, ideally, for the first year. 
  • Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort.
  • Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair.
  • Bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies. However, certain situations make bed-sharing even more dangerous. Therefore, you should not bed share with your baby if:
    • Your baby is younger than 4 months old.
    • Your baby was born prematurely or with low birth weight.
    • You or any other person in the bed is a smoker (even if you do not smoke in bed).
    • The mother of the baby smoked during pregnancy.
    • You have taken any medicines or drugs that might make it harder for you to wake up.
    • You drank any alcohol.
    • You are not the baby’s parent.
    • The surface is soft, such as a waterbed, old mattress, sofa, couch, or armchair.
    • There is soft bedding like pillows or blankets on the bed.
  • Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby’s sleep area. 
  • It is fine to swaddle your baby. 
  • Try giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. 

For more detailed descriptions of the above information, visit A Parent’s Guide to Safe Sleep.

You Are Not Alone

Being a caregiver for a newborn is exhausting. If you are a parent or caregiver reading this, know you are not alone and that feeling exhausted is normal. It will pass. You will find a new pattern and chances to catch up on sleep over the next few years. Following safe sleep practices now, including limiting substance use, and creating and using safe sleep environments, can reduce the risk of SUIDS and the risks of positional overlay. Reach out to parent groups, family or your community for support. Raising children is beyond hard!

For more information on resources to help provide safe sleep environments, call 1-800-CHILDREN, 2-1-1, or your local health department. For more information on finding support from other parents, visit CircleOfParentsCO.org.

No Judgement Here, Just Three Simple Questions Every Parent Should Ask Themselves to Keep Their Kids Safe

No Judgement Here, Just Three Simple Questions Every Parent Should Ask Themselves to Keep Their Kids Safe

NO JUDGEMENT HERE, IT MAY BE A PART OF HOW YOU MANAGE YOUR STRESS, JUST REMEMBER TO ASK YOURSELF THESE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.

Stress is running high in many houses. We’re trying to anticipate what is happening with the new school year in the fall, while figuring out how to earn a living and take care of our families during this COVID-19 pandemic. For many folks that means accessing unemployment benefits and community support. The kids also don’t have many options this summer other than to stick close to home, and that means parents often don’t have a break from parenting. Then there is the added stress of trying to find child care, it is a lot of pressure.  

If you’re on social media, you can see it’s pretty common to turn to substances to take the edge off, or at least joke about it. Whether it’s a glass of wine or beer, an edible or practicing mindfulness, the choices you make now in how you are present with the children in your life are more important than ever. 

Colorado is a substance friendly state, and many legal substances have remained available during the COVID-19 pandemic. No judgement here, it may be a part of how you manage your stress, but there are three things everyone should ask themselves when considering using a substance while taking care of a child/children to keep them safe. 

Who would take the kids to the hospital if you were incapacitated in any way?

It’s a good rule of thumb and it is the worst case scenario. Driving under the influence of any mind or body altering substance can be dangerous for everyone in and around the vehicle. Make sure there is an adult in the home who has the capacity to get behind the wheel and care for the kids to help prevent something awful from happening.  

That special someone should understand the developmental and physical needs of your kids based on age, ability and need. This may look like having the reaction time needed to keep a toddler off the stairs. Or ensure a baby is being fed and changed consistently, and when needed. Perhaps meeting the emotional needs of an older child. Oftentimes, the very escape that is desired from substance use (including alcohol), is what makes taking care of the kids safely so difficult. Substance use alone does not equal unfit or unsafe parenting. Remember, this is a judgement-free zone. 

If the answer to this question isn’t you, it’s time to make a plan to have a responsible caregiver present during and after use. Edible THC products remain active a lot longer than many people suspect, so plan for several hours after use. 

Is everything stored where the kids can’t get it? 

Substance use may have increased in your home over these last couple of months or become a new normal. This likely means it is around the house more. Again no judgement, we all need to make sure substances are properly stored all the time, just like dangerous household cleaning items. This may include locking alcohol in a cupboard or pantry, or locking medications or THC products in a locking bag or box.

Keeping substances out of reach of children and young people is important, and is an easy step in creating a safe environment for your family.

What are you doing to take care of yourself right now?  

Parenting is stressful under regular circumstances and this new normal may be here for awhile. There are a variety of ways to take care of yourself that doesn’t include “checking out.” Find a place you can retreat to when you start to feel stressed. Even if it is locking yourself in the bathroom or going for a short walk, give yourself permission to take at least 5 minutes alone, assuming children are in a safe place, like a baby in a crib, alone on their back.  Finding ways to take care of yourself can make all the difference in reclaiming some balance and help you be the parent you want to be for your kids. 

Adulting is hard, especially with kids around. Much has changed in this new normal, but the questions to ponder at any point when substances are used, including alcohol, have remained the same. It is up to all of us to make smart choices to keep kids safe. 

Whether you are a single parent who can’t remember the last time you had a moment to yourself or a neighbor helping out watching the kids, anytime you’re considering using a substance while taking care of a child/children, it’s important to ask yourself these three simple questions to keep kids safe. 

Visit SmartChoicesSafeKids.org to get more information to guide us all through the choices we have to make at every age and stage of life to keep kids safe.

And, if after asking yourself these three simple questions, you are starting to think that you need to talk. Call the Colorado Crisis Services 1-844-493-TALK (8255),a support line for anyone affected by a mental health, substance use or emotional crisis. It’s ok to admit that you are struggling. Crisis counselors are standing by.

If you or a loved one needs support, just text, call, or walk-in 24/7/365.

Anne Auld is the director of education for Illuminate Colorado. Auld has worked with children and families for more than 20 years, training parents, professionals and community members on subjects including strengthening families, safe storage, child sexual abuse prevention and much more.

Deadline to Submit Proposals Extended for Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference

Deadline to Submit Proposals Extended for Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference

Illuminate Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services, will host the 2020 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in Pueblo, CO from September 28-30, 2020. 

The deadline to submit proposals has been extended to April 25th, by 5 p.m. Proposals must be submitted using the electronic form at www.illuminatecolorado.org/scfc2020conference. [SUBMISSIONS ARE CLOSED]

The 2020 conference, highlighting ways to build protective factors that prevent child maltreatment, will host up to 800 learners from diverse backgrounds and professions from across Colorado, including professionals with varied levels of content knowledge. The Conference Planning Committee is looking for engaging and interactive workshop sessions from individuals and organizations passionate about the work they are doing with children, youth and families. Download the Call for Proposals Announcement for a list of potential topic areas to learn more.

PS. Join us throughout April to celebrate #greatchildhoods and Child Abuse Prevention Month. April 3rd is national #Wearblueday. Plus, join partners from across Colorado at the Child Abuse Prevention Month launch on April 7 at 9 a.m.

Deadline to Submit Proposals Extended for Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference

2020 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference Call for Proposals Announced

Illuminate Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services, will host the 2020 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in Pueblo, CO from September 28-30, 2020. 

The 2020 conference, highlighting ways to build protective factors that prevent child maltreatment, will host up to 800 learners from diverse backgrounds and professions from across Colorado, including professionals with varied levels of content knowledge. The Conference Planning Committee is looking for engaging and interactive workshop sessions from individuals and organizations passionate about the work they are doing with children, youth and families. Download the Call for Proposals Announcement for a list of potential topic areas to learn more.

Proposals must be submitted electronically by Friday, April 3, 2020 by 5:00 pm through the submission form at www.illuminatecolorado.org/scfc2020conference. [SUBMISSIONS ARE CLOSED]

PS. Join us throughout April to celebrate #greatchildhoods and Child Abuse Prevention Month. April 3rd is national #Wearblueday. Plus, join partners from across Colorado at the Child Abuse Prevention Month launch on April 7 at 9 a.m.

Pin It on Pinterest