News & Perspectives

News & Perspectives

Partnering with UMass to Give Students and Home Visitors a Pathway to Success


The Children’s Trust has partnered with UMass Amherst’s Center for Research on Families (CRF) to start an experimental course bringing together professional home visitors and UMass undergraduate students to learn about risk and resilience in families.

The course, “Risk and Resilience in the Lives of First-Time, Young Parents,” was designed by Healthy Families Massachusetts training specialists Meg Manning and Lee MacKinnon, collaborating with Dr. Maureen-Perry Jenkins, Director of CRF and Professor of Psychology, and Gisele Litalien, Associate Director of CRF. It creates a first step in a pathway to college for professionals with intensive field-based knowledge but who lack the opportunity to gain college credit and earn degrees. And it gives UMass students exposure to a research-based framework for parent support and experiential learning.

The partnership was recently highlighted in CRF’s annual report and in a news article on their website:

“Thirteen students have been meeting at the UMass Center Springfield to examine research and practice that address thought-provoking and challenging questions such as: What factors impact the decision to breastfeed? What is the best way to work with families dealing with both trauma and substance abuse issues? What skills can families learn that will build their resilience in the face of challenges? What is unique about adolescent parenting? How does father involvement impact outcomes for children? Numerous faculty from UMass Amherst and Baystate as well as community practitioners have committed their time and expertise to developing this applied, interdisciplinary course on risk and resilience factors for first-time parents.”

The course will be offered again to home visitors across the state, along with similar courses. And it’s already making an impact.

Danita Gordon, a home visitor from Fall River, said “This course was challenging, to say the least, but it was the most rewarding experience ...I gained the confidence to reach for more educational opportunities. I am forever grateful for all that I learned during my time with you all at UMass Amherst. For me it was life changing.”