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Dr. Spieker focuses her research on infant and child social and emotional development. Most of her projects investigate caregiving and child outcomes in high-risk, vulnerable populations, including low-income families and maltreating or substance-using parents. She currently directs a major clinical trial to test the comparative effectiveness of two brief, home visiting interventions to help foster parents support the relationships they are developing with their foster infants and toddlers.
In an ongoing longitudinal study, Spieker and colleagues are examining the effects of childcare within an ecological model, on development of infants with early and extensive child-care experience in the first year of life. Children's socioemotional, cognitive, and language outcomes are evaluated at intervals as functions of complex interactions among child and family characteristics, and the quality of the home and child-care environments in which these children are reared. An important goal is to describe child-care usage and factors related to the selection of care. The study is documenting problems that families have in finding appropriate care and solutions they have generated. In two other longitudinal studies, Spieker and colleagues are examining the early development of disruptive behavior problems in children at risk because they have adolescent mothers.
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