Approximately 15 to 20% of women experience postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety, which can negatively impact the mother-baby relationship and child development. The Center for Early Relationship Support (CERS) of Jewish Family & Children’s Service created the Early Connections program because we believed that treating mothers with PPD and their infants together would be most effective at reducing postpartum depression/anxiety and supporting a healthy mother-baby relationship. We have a steadfast belief in this important work, but we also have many questions to consider. How do we know that Early Connections is effective? What evidence do we have for evaluating our programs? How do we integrate research into our services in ways that respect our clients and are not burdensome to our staff?
We have built a relationship with the Boston University School of Social Work (BUSSW), through faculty member Ruth Paris, to help us explore and begin to test these questions. The pilot research on Early Connections was focused on better understanding our work with postpartum mothers and their babies, through both the mothers’ own feedback on the service and various measures.