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Considerations for the Dissemination of Incredible Years in Welfare Systems: Implications of the Case of "Cathy" for Intervention in the Foster Care System

Arielle S. Gartenberg
Robin Lang


The Incredible Years (IY) Parent and Child Series are evidence-based interventions that increase knowledge and mastery of parenting, mood regulation, and interpersonal problem solving strategies for caregivers while developing similar social and emotional skills in their children. Rogers, Bobich, and Heppell (2016) use a case study approach to examine the effectiveness of adaptations of the IY program for delivery in a transitional housing shelter. They describe strategies for modifying IY to meet the needs of a vulnerable population within the context of the shelter and the broader welfare system. In this commentary, the difficulties commonly experienced by youth like "Cathy" as a function of homelessness and trauma are discussed. Aspects of IY and its adaptation are examined as they highlight (1) essential elements of psychological interventions with clients exposed to trauma, and (2) barriers and facilitators in the delivery of evidence-based treatments within complex natural settings and systems of care. These considerations are salient for practitioners treating youth and families involved in the child welfare system and foster care. The most vital adaptations presented in the Case of Cathy and the IY literature are reviewed to address anticipated pragmatic barriers and therapeutic issues in the implementation of IY for youth in these systems.  

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