In the Public Interest

We in APA’s Public Interest Directorate devote a great deal of time, energy and resources to issues of concern to the psychologists and constituencies we serve. There are countless ways that psychologists respond to society’s needs and we must always remember that there are many successes and achievements for us to celebrate.

This month, the APA Committee on Children, Youth, and Families (CYF) will mark its 25th year of serving these populations and the psychologists who work tirelessly with and for them. A social hour, co-sponsored with Divs. 37 (Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice) and 43 (Society for Family Psychology) will be held Aug. 5 (5–7 p.m.) at APA’s Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., Aug. 4–7. For more information, visit Children, Youth, and Families.

APA’s Council of Representatives established CYF in 1986 to ensure that “children, youth, and families receive the full attention of the Association.” CYF has lived up to this charge by working with and in support of practitioners, researchers, policymakers, other professionals and members of the public who are committed to applying what we know from research and psychology practice to the daily lives and needs of one of our most vulnerable populations.

CYF’s enduring hard work and focused efforts with the support of the Children, Youth, and Families Office (CYFO) have ensured that some of the most pressing, and at times controversial, issues of the day receive the full benefit of psychology’s attention and contributions. Through the dissemination of information, consultation to APA boards and committees, the encouragement of research pertinent to child development, and the resolutions developed by the committee and adopted by the Council of Representatives to inform public policy, CYF has made a difference.

Recently, for example, CYF produced a resolution on the “Promotion of Healthy Active Lifestyles and Prevention of Obesity and Unhealthy Weight Control Behaviors in Children and Youth.” The resolution calls for tangible and swift action by psychologists, policymakers, educators and parents/caregivers to promote physical activity, effective weight management, and prevent obesity and disordered eating in children and youth. A companion tip sheet, ABCDE: Acting Boldly to Change Diet and Exercise for Kids, provides concrete pointers for parents on encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. ABCDE tip sheets have been disseminated to various schools, health fairs and psychologists working to address this public health concern. If you would like a hard copy, please email.

CYF has also produced myriad other resolutions on children’s mental health, bullying, immigrant children and families, prevention of child abuse and neglect, and school dropout prevention, to name a few. As APA policy statements, each resolution is a comprehensive account of a position taken by the world’s largest psychological organization. The resolutions’ content is based exclusively on research and provides documentation of sound, objective information. These resolutions provide strong support for testimony in court cases and legislation and identify guiding principles for our colleagues.

Past CYF members’ projects include planning a conference on improving family-school relationships; ensuring children, youth and families’ concerns remained central to the Obama administration’s health-care reform law; and advocating on topics related to immigrant children and families.

No retrospective about the accomplishments of CYF would be complete without mention of Mary Campbell, who retired after directing CYFO from 1986 to 2011. Throughout her tenure, she exemplified the passion and commitment necessary focus and propel APA’s efforts to secure the rights, well-being and mental health of children and youth.

CYF continues its commitment to address the issues that impact the lives of children, youth and families, such as better integration of psychology within pediatric settings and increased attention to the impact of serial deployments on military children and families. We are confident that CYF is up to the challenge.