Reducing Poverty‑Related Disparities in Child Development and School Readiness: The Smart Beginnings Tiered Prevention Strategy that Combines Pediatric Primary Care with Home Visiting




Daniel S. Shaw, Alan L. Mendelsohn, and Pamela A. Morris

Brief Type

Journal Publication



This paper describes the Smart Beginnings Integrated Model, an innovative, tiered approach for addressing school readiness disparities in low-income children from birth to age 3 in the United States through universal engagement of low-income families and primary prevention in pediatric primary care integrated with secondary/tertiary prevention in the home. We build on both public health considerations, in which engagement, cost and scalability are paramount, and a developmental psychopathology framework (Cicchetti & Toth, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines 50:16–25, 2009), in which the child is considered within the context of the proximal caregiving environment. Whereas existing early preventive models have shown promise in promoting children’s school readiness, the Smart Beginnings model addresses three important barriers that have limited impacts at the individual and/or population level: (1) identification and engagement of vulnerable families; (2) the challenges of scalability at low cost within existing service systems; and (3) tailoring interventions to address the heterogeneity of risk among low income families. Smart Beginnings takes advantage of the existing platform of pediatric primary care to provide a universal primary prevention strategy for all families (Video Interaction Project) and a targeted secondary/tertiary prevention strategy (Family Check-Up) for families with additional contextual factors. We describe the theory underlying the Smart Beginnings model, some initial findings from its recent application in two cities, and implications for changing social policy to promote school readiness beginning during very early childhood. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods



For More Information

Shaw, D. S., Mendelsohn, A. L., & Morris, P. A. (2021). Reducing poverty-related disparities in child development and school readiness: The Smart Beginnings tiered prevention strategy that combines pediatric primary care with home visiting. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-021-00366-0
Author Contact Information:
Daniel S. Shaw


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