Investing in Children, Youth, Families, and Communities takes a theoretically exciting and socially critical view of human development and the power of context to shape positive outcomes. Co-editors Kenneth I. Maton, Cynthia J. Schellenbach, Bonnie J. Leadbeater, and Andrea L. Solarz bring together leading social scientists and policy experts to discuss what helps or hinders healthy development.

A transformative theme, from deficits to strengths, emerges in this book, as it surveys the mounting evidence that programs that shore up resilience can and do work. Empirically rich chapters show how children, youth, families, and communities can be vital resources in countering the challenges posed by violence, abuse, neglect, and other obstacles to development. It provides concrete examples of programs that recognize, strengthen, and marshal the abilities of individuals and groups traditionally assumed to be deficient or in need of "fixing."

Uniquely, this book also extends the scientific findings to real-world program and policy implications. Each chapter is co-authored by scholars and policy experts with complementary strengths, bringing together expertise in the psychosocial aspects of an issue and expertise in social policy.

Table of Contents



I. Setting the Stage

  1. Strengths-Based Research and Policy: An Introduction
    —Kenneth I. Maton, Daniel W. Dodgen, Bonnie J. Leadbeater, Irwin N. Sandler, Cynthia J. Schellenbach, and Andrea L. Solarz
  2. Research and Policy for Building Strengths: Processes and Contexts of Individual, Family, and Community Development
    —Bonnie J. Leadbeater, Cynthia J. Schellenbach, Kenneth I. Maton, and Daniel W. Dodgen
  3. Adversities, Strengths, and Public Policy
    —Irwin N. Sandler, Tim S. Ayers, Jesse C. Suter, Amy Schultz, and Joan Twohey-Jacobs

II. Overcoming Adverse Circumstances Affecting the Individual and the Family

  1. Strengths-Building Public Policy for Children of Divorce
    —Sanford L. Braver, Kathleen N. Hipke, Ira M. Ellman, and Irwin N. Sandler
  2. Resilient Outcomes in Abused and Neglected Children: Bases for Strengths-Based Intervention and Prevention Policies
    —Penelope K. Trickett, Dawn A. Kurtz, and Karabelle Pizzigatti
  3. The Strengths, Competence, and Resilience of Women Facing Domestic Violence: How Can Research and Policy Support Them?
    —Sarah L. Cook, Jennifer L. Woolard, and Harriet C. McCollum
  4. Enhancing the Developmental Outcomes of Adolescent Parents and Their Children
    —Cynthia J. Schellenbach, Bonnie J. Leadbeater, and Kristin Anderson Moore
  5. Fostering Resilience for Children of Alcoholic Parents
    —Laurie Chassin, Adam C. Carle, Denis Nissim-Sabat, and Karol L. Kumpfer
  6. Mental Health Services: A Family Systems Approach
    —William Beardslee and Jane Knitzer
  7. Children and Families Coping With Pediatric Chronic Illnesses
    —Cynthia A. Gerhardt, Natalie Walders, Susan L. Rosenthal, and Dennis D. Drotar

III. Overcoming Adverse Circumstances in the Community and Society

  1. Building Protection, Support, and Opportunity for Inner-City Children and Youth and Their Families
    —Patrick H. Tolan, Lonnie R. Sherrod, Deborah Gorman-Smith, and David B. Henry
  2. Opportunities for Schools in Promoting Resilience in Children and Youth
    —Emilie Phillips Smith, Gloria Swindler Boutte, Edward Zigler, and Matia Finn-Stevenson
  3. The Organization of Schooling and Adolescent Development
    —Edward Seidman, J. Lawrence Aber, and Sabine E. French
  4. Resilience in Children Exposed to Negative Peer Influences
    —Janis B. Kupersmidt, John D. Coie, and James C. Howell
  5. Racial and Ethnic Status: Risk and Protective Processes Among African-American Families
    —Algea O. Harrison-Hale, Vonnie C. McLoyd, and Brian Smedley
  6. Acculturation and Enculturation Among Latino Youths
    —Nancy A. Gonzales, George P. Knight, Dina Birman, and Amalia A. Sirolli
  7. Community Violence and Children: Preventing Exposure and Reducing Harm
    —James Garbarino, W. Rodney Hammond, Jim Mercy, and Betty R. Yung
  8. Community Development as a Response to Community-Level Adversity: Ecological Theory and Research and Strengths-Based Policy
    —Douglas D. Perkins, Bill Crim, Pamela Silberman, and Barbara B. Brown

IV. Conclusions and Future Directions

  1. A Blueprint for the Future
    —Andrea L. Solarz, Bonnie J. Leadbeater, Irwin N. Sandler, Kenneth I. Maton, Cynthia J. Schellenbach, and Daniel W. Dodgen


About the Editors

Reviews & Awards

This edited book is an engaging text that brings together social science and policy experts to articulate the advantages of strengths-based research and policy. This book makes a sound case for the long-term value of investing in current youth, family, and community strengths. In doing so, the authors show the power of bridging science, practice, and social policy to better support youth, family, and community development.
—Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice

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