Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I)

Scientific Rating:
3
Promising Research Evidence
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
Medium
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I) has been rated by the CEBC in the area of: Home Visiting Programs for Child Well-Being.

Target Population: Children 5 -15 months and their families

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 1

Brief Description

The PALS I curriculum was developed to facilitate parents’ mastery of specific skills for interacting with their young children including paying attention to and correctly interpreting babies’ signals, responding contingently to signals, and using rich language. It is designed as a preventive intervention program to strengthen the bond between parent and baby and to stimulate early language, cognitive, and social development. There is also a Play and Learning Strategies - Toddler/Preschool Program (PALS-II) which is rated in the Home Visiting for Child Well-Being topic area as well.

Program Goals:

The goals of Play and Learning Strategies – Infant Program (PALS I) are:

  • Increase parents’ contingent responsiveness behaviors
  • Increase parents' rich language input
  • Increase parents’ emotional/affective support
  • Increase parents’ ability to maintain child’s focus of attention
  • Increase the child’s language, cognitive, and social outcomes

Essential Components

The essential components of Play and Learning Strategies – Infant Program (PALS I) include:

  • One-on-one home visits between a trained home visitor and a parent
  • 11 individual sessions in the family’s home and lasts about 11 weeks
    • Sessions include topics such as the following:
      • How to understand baby’s signals
      • How to respond contingently to signals
      • How to maintain baby’s focus of attention
      • How to introduce activities gently
      • How to label objects and actions
      • How to read to babies
      • The importance of using these strategies throughout the day and within a single interaction
      • Two review sessions available where an additional caregiver is invited to attend to learn about strategies for him or her to use with the baby as well
  • 90-minute sessions typically
  • Video recording of parent and child interacting at the end of each session given to parent to allow them to practice newly learned PALS I strategy
  • Review of video playback of the parent-child interaction enables parent to reflect on their behaviors

Parent/Caregiver Services

Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Parent of a child 5 months to 12 months of age
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: The child attends all sessions with the parent to allow the coach to train them to use new techniques.

Delivery Setting

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Birth Family Home

Homework

Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I) includes a homework component:

Parents are asked to practice using the PALS I strategies with their children daily.

Languages

Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I) has materials available in a language other than English:

Spanish

For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Video recording device with tripod
  • Laptop/portable DVD player to play curriculum DVD
  • Toy bag with developmentally appropriate toys for parent-child interaction

Minimum Provider Qualifications

It is recommended that a trained PALS I home visitor has at least an associate degree or higher in early childhood (or related field) or work experience commensurate with education. PALS I home visitors are supervised by a person with at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, or a related field, and have 3-5 years’ experience in parent education.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program, and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:
  • Home visitors are trained by the Children’s Learning Institute at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston either in Houston, TX or onsite.
  • The PALS I manual and DVD are used by home visitors while teaching the curriculum.
  • After training, home visitors submit videos of themselves facilitating a PALS I session for certification.
  • Once home visitors are certified in both PALS I and Play and Learning Strategies – Toddler/Preschool Program (PALS II), they are called PALS Coaches.
Number of days/hours:

3 days for PALS I or 5 days for PALS I and Play and Learning Strategies – Toddler/Preschool Program (PALS II)

Implementation Information

Since Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I) is rated on the Scientific Rating Scale, information was requested from the program representative on available pre-implementation assessments, implementation tools, and/or fidelity measures.

Show implementation information...

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are no pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I).

Formal Support for Implementation

There is no formal support available for implementation of Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I).

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I) as listed below:

A checklist is used to rate and provide written feedback to home visitors during certification. The same checklist should be used at least once a month as a fidelity measure.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I) as listed below:

A scripted manual is used by PALS I coaches to implement each session.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has not been conducted on how to implement Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I).

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program is rated a "3 - Promising Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The practice must have at least one study utilizing some form of control (e.g., untreated group, placebo group, matched wait list study) establishing the practice's benefit over the placebo, or found it to be comparable to or better than an appropriate comparison practice. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Show relevant research...

Smith, K. E., Landry, S. H., & Swank, P. R. (2005). The influence of decreased parental resources on the efficacy of a responsive parenting intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(4), 711-720.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 264

Population:

  • Age — Caregivers: 27.0-27.8 years, Children: Infants
  • Race/Ethnicity — Caregivers: 33% African Americans, 35% Caucasian, 29% Hispanic, and 3% Other; Children: Not specified
  • Gender — Caregivers: 100% Females, Children: 52% Female and 48% Male
  • Status — Participants were infants and mothers from predominantly lower middle to low socioeconomic status.

Location/Institution: Houston–Galveston area

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examined whether a responsive parenting intervention for socially disadvantaged mothers (Play and Learning Strategies, PALS [now called Play and Learning Strategies Infant Program (PALS-I)]) compared to preintervention parenting resources, the authors examined both of these conditions as moderators of behavior change in participating families. Families of very low birth weight or term babies were randomly assigned to a group that only received PALS-I or a group that only received developmental information. Measures utilized include the Concepts of Development Questionnaire, the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale, the Symptom Checklist 90—Revised, the Depression Scale from the Center for Epidemiological Studies, and the Personal Relationships Inventory. Results indicate that mothers in the PALS-I only group with limited internal resources, particularly higher levels of anger/hostility, experienced more positive change for the broadest range of responsive behaviors compared to those who in the information-only control group. In addition, those in the PALS-I group experienced more change in provision of rich language input. Limitations include generalizabiltiy due to socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 3 months.

Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., & Swank, P. R. (2006). Responsive parenting: Establishing early foundations for social, communication, and independent problem-solving skills. Developmental Psychology, 42(4), 627-642.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 264

Population:

  • Age — Caregivers: 27.0-27.8 years, Children: 6-10 months
  • Race/Ethnicity — 33% African Americans, 35% Caucasian, 29% Hispanic, and 3% Other
  • Gender — 100% Females
  • Status — Participants were infants and mothers from predominantly lower middle to low socioeconomic status. Mothers of infants with very low birth rate or born at term

Location/Institution: Houston–Galveston area

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
Note: This study uses the same sample as Smith, Landry, & Swank (2005). This study examined mothers whose infants varied in early biological characteristics. The mothers were randomized to Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) [now called Play and Learning Strategies – Infant Program (PALS-I)] or a developmental feedback comparison group to determine whether learning responsive behaviors would facilitate infant development. Measures utilized videotaping of the participants to observe maternal behaviors. Results revealed the PALS-I group showed greater increases across multiple responsiveness behaviors observed in 4 assessments conducted across 6–13 months of age versus comparison mothers; changes in emotionally supportive behaviors were strongest for target mothers of infants born at very low birth weight (VLBW). Increased maternal responsiveness facilitated greater growth in target infants’ social, emotional, communication, and cognitive competence, supporting a causal role for responsiveness on infant development. Although benefits were generally comparable across risk groups, aspects of social and emotional skills showed greater change for those born at VLBW. Limitations include differential attrition rates by ethnicity and generalizabiltiy due to socioeconomic status and gender.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 3 months.

Guttentag, C. L., Pedrosa-Josic, C., Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., & Swank, P. R. (2006). Individual variability in parenting profiles and predictors of change: Effects of an intervention with disadvantaged mothers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 349-369.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 264

Population:

  • Age — Caregivers: 27.0-27.8 years, Children: Between 27-30 weeks (approximately 6-7 months)
  • Race/Ethnicity — Caregivers: 33% African Americans, 35% Caucasian, 29% Hispanic, and 3% Other, Children: Not specified
  • Gender — Caregivers: 100% Female, Children: 51.5% Females and 48.5% Males
  • Status — Participants were predominantly lower middle to low socioeconomic status families of infants with high-risk and low risk births.

Location/Institution: Houston–Galveston area

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
Note: This study uses the same sample as Smith, Landry, & Swank (2005). This study examined the need for more information about individual differences in mothers' pre-existing behaviors by examining variability within a group of mothers who were randomly assigned to either a parenting intervention condition (Play and Learning Strategies [PALS]) [now called Play and Learning Strategies – Infant Program (PALS-I)] or to a comparison condition in which infants' development was screened across multiple areas and reported to mothers. Measures utilized include the Concepts of Development Questionnaire (CODQ), The Symptom Checklist 90-Revised questionnaire (SCL-90-R), Personal Relationships Inventory, and the Hollingshead Four-Factor Index. Results revealed that mothers randomly assigned to PALS-I were more likely than comparison mothers to transition from weaker to stronger profile groups; e.g., 17% of PALS-I group who were in the lowest profile group at preintervention remained in the lowest profile group at post-intervention versus 60% of comparison group mothers. Social support predicted positive change among intervention mothers. Limitations include lack of information on how mothers used their social support networks and generalizability to fathers and higher SES families.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 3 months.

References

No reference materials are currently available for Play and Learning Strategies - Infant Program (PALS I).

Contact Information

Name: Ursula Johnson, PhD
Agency/Affiliation: The Children's Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Website: www.childrenslearninginstitute.org/programs
Email:
Phone: (713) 500-3767
Fax: (713) 500-3705

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: September 2016

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2015

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: October 2015