Research & Evaluation

 Research Projects

The Fostering Families Project (FFP)

The Fostering Families Project (FFP) is a federally-funded, longitudinal, randomized controlled trial, involving over 200 toddlers in child welfare dependency and their caregivers. The project is a comparative effectiveness study of the Promoting First Relationships intervention (PFR) and the Early Education and Support (EES) intervention. Participant children are between 11 and 24 months of age who have recently experienced a change of care provider through actions of the child welfare/foster care system. PFR and EES interventionists work with foster, kin, and birth care providers. PFR focuses on understanding child's cues, attachment needs, and developmental level, with the goal of minimizing the impact that the experience of separations and caregiver transitions will have on developing attachment strategies and emotional regulation. EES provides caregiver resource and referral, education and support, but does not have an attachment focus.

This project is possible because of the strong support and collaboration of administrators and social workers at Washington State's Department of Social & Health Services Children's Administration. This project is unique in that we intervene as early as possible after a young child with a developed attachment relationship has experienced the loss of that caregiver, and try to follow the children and maintain the interventions even if children are moved from caregiver to caregiver several times over the course of the study. Our goal is to determine the impact that an attachment-focused intervention can have on this vulnerable population, during an extremely stressful time, and at a crucial period in development.

Promoting First Relationships (PFR): Research and Training Efforts with Early Childhood Populations

Promoting First Relationships is a research-based prevention program dedicated to promoting children's social and emotional development through responsive, nurturing caregiver-child relationships. For over a decade, we have trained service providers in countless agencies across Washington State and increasingly in other parts of the country and the world in the use of practical, effective strategies for promoting secure and healthy relationships between caregivers and young children (birth to 3 years).

The efficacy of Promoting First Relationships has been evaluated via a number of studies. Currently, two NIH funded research projects, The Fostering Families Project and Early Detection and Intervention for Infants at Risk for Autism are occurring. The Fostering Families Project is described in further detail below, and the autism project is described on the PFR link. Washington State DSHS funding is on-going to provide PFR services for families referred to Child Protective Services.

For more information regarding Promoting First Relationships, visit



In partnership with Thrive by Five and the Puget Sound Educational School District (PSESD), Barnard Center was selected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate the Educare program located within the White Center Early Learning Initiative.

Educare is a model of center-based early childhood care and education developed by the Ounce of Prevention Fund and implemented in high poverty neighborhoods across the country. Key features of Educare include a public-private funding partnership, a place specifically designed for early care and education, and a program to serve children from birth to five. The program seeks to promote and sustain best practices in early childhood education to benefit children and families living in poverty. Program characteristics include the use of research-based strategies, reflective supervision and practice, intensive staff development, and small class sizes with high staff/child ratios. In addition, Educare programming aims to increase children's school readiness skills by emphasizing social-emotional development, language and literacy skills, and family involvement.

Barnard Center provides evaluation and technical support to PSESD in regard to implementing Educare in a racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse, low-income population in the White Center area. As local evaluation partner, Barnard Center has joined a consortium of 7 sites across the country implementing the Educare model, all under the leadership of a national evaluator, Donna Bryant, at the Frank Porter Graham Center at the University of North Carolina.