As 2020 draws to an end, many will remember the negative consequences of COVID-19; including the large losses of life, jobs, community, and all aspects of society as we knew it. Amid our losses, my wish is that we close out 2020 celebrating our resilience and those around us. As we look forward to 2021 and the possibility of a vaccine and/or effective treatments to help control the pandemic of 2020, we have reason to hope. The pandemic will end.
Until then, and after, I ask us all to be kinder to each other, more caring to each other, and more generous with our time and resources to each other, especially those in need of help. I especially ask that you reach out to help the families whose children are receiving early childhood intervention during these trying times. These families are trying to keep themselves and their children safe and healthy while managing remote schooling and intervention, and their own jobs.
Our first two articles are presented and summarized by Michael Guralnick, the Infants & Young Children (IYC) guest editor for this second special section from the 2019 ISEI conference. Both articles are based on Keynote presentations.
The first article (Don Bailey) is framed in the context of our increasing ability to identify infants who have a high probability of experiencing developmental delays; yet, these delays are not yet apparent. Expanded prospects for interventions at this early stage are a consequence. Relevant here are discussions of the systems of Newborn Screening and Early Intervention in the United States. Recommendations to improve both systems are presented in the article, and these include outcome documentation, cost analyses, and program surveillance. The benefits of integrating these two systems are discussed, as are the many challenges to do so.
The second article (Cally Tann and colleagues) from the ISEI conference provides an innovative approach to early intervention for families in Uganda. Focusing on children with neonatal encephalopathy, the article describes the special challenges implementing effective services in low- and middle-income countries. Prospective studies by Tann's group in Uganda, including maternal caregiving experiences, provided the foundation for a well-organized modular intervention program that is community-based and led by peers. Critical program themes included inclusion and participation, optimizing health and child development, caregiver empowerment, and promotion of human rights and understanding family experiences, including potential stigma. Highly encouraging evidence of the program's benefits for family quality of life was found, and the program is now being revised and scaled up with plans for comprehensive program evaluation.
Our last two articles focus on children's social-emotional development and behavior. The first, by Nina Madsen Sjö, Astrid Kiil, and Peter Jensen explored Danish teachers' views of the clarity, relevance, and acceptability of three separate assessments of children's social-emotional well-being. The three differed in their emphasis on children's social-emotional strengths or challenges. Of the three, teachers rated the Social Emotional Assessment Measure (SEAM) the highest in its ability to convey the child's strengths and provide information that can be discussed with parents. The authors concluded that such a strength-based measure should be included in any assessment of a child's social-emotional development.
Our last article, written by Miriam Kuhn, Courtney Boise, Christine Marvin, and Lisa Knoche, explored the relationship between children's social-emotional competence and their executive functioning (EF). To address this relationship, a mixed-methods study was conducted with 19 preschool children. Parents, teachers, and early childhood coaches of four of the children were also interviewed for this study. A significant relationship was found between teacher reports of challenging behaviors and deficits in global EF skills. In addition, the interviews provided qualitative descriptions of the children's behavior and EF behaviors. The authors concluded by providing recommendations for further research in these areas. They also provided strategies to foster positive social development with this population, including collaborative parent–professional team efforts to address the children's needs.
I would like to close by thanking the authors, for submitting their work to IYC, and the reviewers, who assisted in the editorial process by offering salient suggestions to bring these manuscripts to publication.
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD