By Mary Ann McCabe, PhD, ABPP
It is such an honor for me to serve as president of the Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice this year. I am extremely fortunate that we have such a talented and hard-working board, and I am grateful for each of their contributions and service to the division. I especially want to welcome our new newsletter editor, Jonathan Martinez and congratulate him on this first issue. I also want to congratulate Barbara Fiese, editor of our new publication, Advances in Child and Family Policy and Practice for the forthcoming release of the first two issues.
We also have many great collaborators and it promises to be an exciting year. Indeed, one of the features of this organization that I find most compelling, and about which members should be proud, is our collaboration with other groups. This is intrinsic to our membership, reflecting, as it does, many disciplines and areas of interest, and spanning the activities of research, practice and policy. As one example, we held the midwinter meeting of the executive committee in conjunction with the meeting of Div. 43 (Society for Family Psychology). This allowed us to discuss issues of mutual concern, enhance opportunities for working together, and consider the national issues concerning children and families facing the new Congress with APA Government Relations staff.
Here are just some of our other collaborative activities: We are co-leading a task force with Div. 7 on the effects of physical punishment of children, and we are continuing work on a joint task force with Div. 53 on the ethnic minority research agenda. We lead the Interdivisional Task Force on Child and Adolescent Mental Health (with 11 other member divisions), and work closely with the APA Office for Children, Youth and Families. We had seven cross-divisional sessions accepted for the APA convention in Toronto (beyond those of our own divisions or on which we are co-listed). And we are the lead division on a newly awarded grant by the Committee on APA-Division Relations (CODAPAR) for a project entitled, “Enhanced Web Presence for Scientifically-based Information on Children and Families.” Working across all seven child and family divisions of APA, we will be establishing a new science-based Web resource for the public and professionals which showcases the contributions of behavioral science, and links to other reliable and valid websites, focused on promotion of healthy development, parenting, prevention, and evidence-based practice. I will be soliciting input from members, including blog postings, in the coming year.
The theme for my presidential year is “The New Frontier for Promoting Child Mental Health,” which reflects the synergy of a number of activities in which I have been involved and for which the division has been a supporter. For example, recommendations from the two national summits on child mental health (2009 and 2013) emphasize the importance of sharing science with the public and those who work with children, which the new Web resource will aim to do. Summit recommendations also correspond nicely to the work of the Institute of Medicine Forum on Promoting Children's Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Health (C-CAB), for which the division is a sponsor and I am the representative. These activities have led to my meeting with the mental health liaison group, an informal organization of government relations leaders for mental health issues in Congress, and to more detailed conversations with Mental Health America regarding their new child-focused initiatives in the areas of promotion and prevention. And I continue work on a few projects devoted to enhancing integrated primary care for children and families.
We will be working to advance training in advocacy for members of the division. For example, we are seeking new ways to showcase diverse career pathways that include state and federal advocacy activities and to enhance mentoring opportunities. We hope to have a day of advocacy training and visits to congressional offices arranged at a future time when a number of members will be in Washington D.C. (e.g., when convention is held there in 2017). Meanwhile, please take advantage of some of the APA materials on federal advocacy, (PDF, 2MB) participate in the APA grassroots network on issues that interest you or consider the five continuing education modules on federal and state advocacy (the first of which is free and subsequent ones are discounted for APA members).
Finally, one of the highest priorities for me and the board this year is to engage students and early career professionals in the activities of the division (and section) and to create the leadership pipeline for the future. There is no better time to become involved and the division needs you. We have just approved social media policies and will be working to better disseminate information on the activities and opportunities of the division through Facebook and Twitter. Stay tuned.
If you have suggestions or questions for me at any time, please contact me. I look forward to an exciting and productive year.