My backgrounds in psychology, criminology, public health, and developmental science have cultivated my strong methodological, analytical, leadership, and communication skills in preparation for launching an independent program of research focused on health promotion and risk prevention (Champine, 2017). My program of research addresses three primary questions:
- How do psychological and behavioral interventions prevent unhealthy developmental trajectories among youth exposed to adversity?;
- How do psychological and behavioral interventions promote positive and sustained developmental change among youth exposed to adversity?; and
- How can this research inform culturally relevant policies and practices to reduce health disparities, promote thriving, and foster social justice ?
I draw from Urie Bronfenbrenner's (1992) Ecological Systems Theory and Relational Developmental Systems Metatheory (Lerner & Overton, 2008) to examine how characteristics of individuals interrelate with characteristics of interventions and the broader ecology to shape human development. The figure below (Champine, Whitson, & Kaufman, 2018) is informed by these theoretical frameworks and guides my current research. I incorporate the use of community-based participatory and mixed methods approaches in this work.
Champine et al. (2018), Journal of Child and Family Studies
Youth Development Programs
I investigate the processes through which youth development (YD) programs may contribute to healthy cognitive, emotional, and behavioral growth among underserved youth. YD programs are a subset of out-of-school time programs that adopt a strength-based approach and provide opportunities for youth to develop caring and sustained relationships and important life and leadership skills in safe and supervised settings (Catalano, Berglund, Ryan, Lonczak, & Hawkins, 2004; Lerner, Lerner, Bowers, & Geldhof, 2015; Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2015). In particular, these programs have the potential to function as hope-promoting contexts in the lives of youth of color from low-resource communities (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003). My doctoral research was in collaboration with the Scoutreach initiative of Boy Scouts of America, which aims to improve access to Scouting among youth from low-resource urban and rural communities. Findings revealed that participation in Scoutreach and Scouting, more broadly, was linked to character development, and also indicated ways in which Scoutreach leaders creatively adapted the curriculum to address the unique needs of participating youth (Champine et al., 2016; Hershberg, Chase, Champine, Hilliard, Wang, & Lerner, 2015). In addition, as Principal Investigator on a study funded by the Society for Research in Child Development, I found preliminary evidence suggesting that youth were cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally engaged in Scoutreach (Champine & Johnson, 2017; Wang, Champine et al., 2017). Findings also highlighted key facets of Scoutreach linked to boys' engagement in the initiative (e.g., camping and other outdoor activities).
I currently examine how multilevel, community-based interventions may promote thriving among children and families exposed to potential sources of traumatic stress (e.g., poverty, violence). Exposure to adversity during childhood may increase individuals' likelihoods of having developmental trajectories characterized by traumatic stress and other psychological and behavioral health problems (Horan & Widom, 2015). However, community-based interventions hold promise for providing youth and families with support and resources that are accessible, culturally grounded, and attuned to potential ecological determinants of health. In one study, I am partnering with youth, families, educators, service providers, and community leaders to collaboratively develop, implement, and assess the potential impacts of participation in trauma-informed training and activities (Champine, Matlin, Strambler, & Tebes, 2018; Tebes, Champine, Matlin, & Strambler, under review). Preliminary findings suggest that participation in the intervention is linked to enhanced trauma-related knowledge, attitudes, and skills. My other research in this area involves examining in greater depth the processes involved in adapting and disseminating evidence-based, trauma-informed interventions in diverse contexts.
Family- and School-Based Interventions
Similarly, I also examine characteristics of effective family- and school-based interventions that adopt community-based participatory approaches by actively engaging key stakeholders as partners in the research process. Two studies involve assessing the developmental impacts of family- and school-based systems of care that provide holistic and integrated services to families of youth with severe psychological and behavioral health needs. Findings highlight how families' service-related views and experiences are linked to improvements in their health (e.g., Champine et al., 2018; Champine, Schreier, Whitson, & Kaufman, under review; Champine, Shaker, Tsitaridis, Whitson, & Kaufman, under review; Champine, Werkmeister Rozas, Schreier, & Kaufman, under review). In another study, I am partnering with New Haven high schools to assess the developmental impacts of a student-led substance use intervention.