Impact and Research

Hand in Hand is engaged in a continuous process of evaluation and improvement.

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"Your method...helped us connect with her during a critical time in her development when she could have easily become more isolated and disinterested in other people."

Vanessa Guardini, parent

Hand in Hand's Research Program

Building Emotionally Responsive Early Childhood Educational Communities

Health and well-being in early childhood depends on the emotional support and health of children's parents and teachers. We are building a world where parents and educators have the tools they need to support each other and connect deeply with the children they care for, so that children can recover from the big and small hurts of daily life, and thrive.

Our early chilhood educator training program, the Professionals Intensive for Educators, supports essential caregivers to buffer against the effects of early adversity for the youngest learners in our communities. Our Research Team is rigorously documenting the impact of this program as one of the steps in establishing the Hand in Hand approach as an evidence-based practice for Early Childhood Education. Paired with our parent training program, the Hand in Hand approach becomes a community-wide Social-Emotional Learning initiative for Early Childhood Educational communities.

To learn more about why we're focusing on Early Childhood Education (ECE), watch our latest research webinar here.

Research Program Impact :

Build Resilient Communities: Strengthen home-school partnerships and family engagement with a robust parent and educator program.

Expand Reach: Empower educators to reach 10-25 families at a time, their students’ pediatricians, and other allied professionals.

Scale the training program: Gain access to state and federal funding to scale the training program across the country.

Increase Accessibility and Cultural Congruence: Update our training materials to reflect and support the diversity of early childhood educational communities in the US.

"I am consistently astonished by the results of using the Parenting by Connection approach with my kids"

-Adrienne McCurrach, parent

"I am so much more aware of the importance of eye contact and how good it makes people feel"

- Laura Ossa, Preschool Parent Co-Operative Director

Research Plan

Hand in Hand uses the IDEAS Impact Framework developed by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University to conduct our research studies. This framework is a community-engaged, rapid-cycle, iterative research model designed to help programs achieve greater impact for families, children and communities.

Where are we now?

We are currently in the second phase of our research program: the early pilot study. The purpose of this study is to document and evaluate changes in behavior, knowledge, attitude, and skill for educators in the classroom as a result of completing our training program.
We will recruit and enroll 50 early childhood educators who work in diverse and underserved communities to take our 6-week experiential training program (Professionals Intensive for Early Childhood Educators). We will document the levels of teacher-student connectedness, teacher reflective functioning, teacher distress tolerance, as well as the consultative alliance between the Hand in Hand instructors and the educators.. We will document the findings in a manuscript ready for publication at the end of the study. Phase Two will provide invaluable information on outcomes for both educators and children as well as provide information on the necessary course adaptations, bringing us one step closer to developing an evidence base and scaling across the US.
Early Stage Pilot Study and Learning Collaborative
Measurement Instruments
Recruitment & Materials 
Instructor Fees & Participant Incentives 
Data Analysis & Manuscript
Conferences & Presentations
Administrative Support 

Research Studies and Publications

Summer 2022

Learning Collaborative

Funding needed:  $45,000 

Our second 8-week Summer Learning Collaborative will bring together a multidisciplinary team of professionals, educators, researchers, and interns to finalize the evaluation of our Early Pilot Study and to prepare for the next phase of our research plan (Later Stage Pilot Study). Participant projects include:

  • Analyze data and evaluate outcomes for participants
  • Incorporate findings into our training model for educators
  • Publish findings in peer-reviewed journal
  • Plan next phase of research
  • Share findings with community & colleagues in various venues
Summer 2022

Spring 2022

Conduct Early Pilot Study

Funding needed:   $85,000

Train 50 Early Childhood Educators at the cost of $1,500 per educator. Intended Outcomes:

  • 50 educators trained, 200+ children served
  • Curated robust online classroom for early childhood educators 
  • Documented changes in educator’s behavior, knowledge, attitude, and skill as a result of this training program. 
  • Identified further course adaptations.
Spring 2022

Summer 2021

Learning Collaborative

Our 8-week Summer Learning Collaborative, inspired by Harvard’s learning communities, brought together a multidisciplinary team of professionals, educators, and researchers to finalize the evaluation of our Feasibility Study and to prepare for the next phase of our research plan (an Early Pilot Study to train and document outcomes for 50 educators). Outcomes::

  • Completed a written report on study participants' evaluation of the appropriateness of our training model and evaluation measures, based on Feasibility Study data. 
  • Finalized plan for course adaptations. 
  • Completed review of Evidence-Based Registries 
  • Designed early pilot study
Summer 2021


Completed Feasibility Study

Hand in Hand completed the first phase of our research program in 2020: documenting feasibility. We evaluated our 6-week educator training program on its feasibility and acceptability, using both qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Participant questionnaires and interviews reflected high satisfaction with our program and educator anecdotes highlighted themes around improved educator efficacy, reduced educator stress, and positive changes in specific child outcomes. Participants also identified and requested specific adaptations of course content. The research team is currently analyzing participant feedback and improving the training course in preparation for the early pilot study. Learn more about our feasibility study through our impact report here.



Established University Research Partnership

Our Research Project was accepted as a Portfolio Program of Frontiers of Innovation (FOI), the R&D platform of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. We received ongoing training in the IDEAS Impact Framework model, and mentoring to conduct the first phase of our overall research plan (the Feasibility Study). We received year-long mentorship and support to design and conduct the first phase of our research program: documenting feasibility.



Trained in Community-Engaged Research Model

Our research team was trained in the IDEAS Impact Framework, a quick-cycle iterative and community-engaged research model that now guides our research program that is “designed to accelerate the development and adoption of science-based innovations that achieve breakthrough impact at scale.”  The team attended a 3-day training hosted by Frontiers of Innovation (FOI), the R&D platform of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. FOI employs a structured but flexible framework that facilitates idea generation, development, implementation, testing, evaluation, and rapid-cycle iteration.



Research Study Published

Shelley Macy conducted a qualitative analysis of a four-year research project teaching Hand in Hand Parenting at Northwest Indian College, “Our precious babies: What our children can show us about supporting them and one another in early learning settings.Shelley Macy, Principal Investigator, ECE Faculty at Northwest Indian College. Published in the Mellon Tribal College Research Journal, Volume II, 1-30.



Research Study Published

Pamela Oatis, MD, analyzed the impact of Hand in Hand’s six-week introductory class for parents in a research poster using data from 250 English-speaking and 72 Spanish-speaking parents. 1. Oatis, P., Wipfler, P., Klorer, M., McKitrick, T., Canterbury, E., Roe, J., & Buderer, N. (2014). Listening-based parenting strategies promote stronger parent-child connection. Research poster presented at Mercy Children’s Hospital, Toledo, OH. See also: Oatis, P. (2014). Research Results Show Hand in Hand’s Building Emotional Understanding Class Strengthens the Parent-Child Connection, Hand in Hand Parenting. Please note: the 6-week class, formerly named “Building Emotional Understanding,” is now called the Hand in Hand Starter Class. It is the same exact curriculum.

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