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Circle of Security in the Community

Investing in Early Relational Health

   COS in the Community





Introduction to COS in the Community

More than 60 years ago, John Bowlby argued that attachment had long term developmental consequences, a bold claim but one he backed with careful review of existing research. Since Bowlby's time, research on early experiences in relationships, and how those experiences influence a child's development, has exploded. Today, both governmental and non-profit agencies use terms like "early relational health" to highlight how public health investment early in life can impact health across time. Bowlby's focus on the developmental importance of attachment is now influencing policy and practice around the world.

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.

Coretta Scott King, US-based Community Activist and wife of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

These days, investing in early development is viewed as a wise public health strategy. For example, the Nobel-prize winning economist from the United States, James Heckman, argues that the return on investment of quality programs in the preschool period is high. Dr. Heckman's analysis of the long-term health impacts of high quality early intervention is clear: promoting early relational health is a good investment!

Click here to read an example of one of Dr. Heckman's carefully crafted research summaries.

Governments are rightly interested in community-level interventions that target early relationships and prevent later health and/or mental health conditions. In the United States, for example, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently focused their long-term strategy for the prevention of child maltreatment on promoting what they call SSNR's: safe, stable, nurturing relationships. How to best promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships is an empirical question and we expect that scalable interventions, such as Circle of Security Parenting, will need to be tested for broad efficacy.

Click here to watch a useful 2019 talk that highlights the importance of community-level interventions to promote "early relational health" by the US-based pediatrician David Willis, MD, with the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

A collage of words that relate to human relationships and community

Our team at Circle of Security International is interested in community-level applications that include parenting or caregiver support. There is a great deal of complexity in scaling up interventions; more research needs to be done about how best to promote early relational health in various communities. For example, do we work with parents, preschool providers or both?

We think John Bowlby would be excited that governments and public health agencies are investing in early relationships to improve health and development. For example, in 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement on the importance of promoting relational health, particularly in light of the data on how toxic stress in childhood is moderated by safe, stable, nurturing relationships. We are thankful to the AAP who agreed to allow us to link to their statement, which you can find here.

We're interested in the stories of how interventions like Circle of Security Parenting and Circle of Security-Intensive are used in communities around the world to promote early relational health. The links on the left tell some of those stories; we hope they give you a sense of the various ways communities of differing types can be impacted by the use of programs like COSP.

We want to hear your community story too! Our Project Consultant for COS in the Community is Charlie Slaughter. Learn more about Charlie.

You can reach Charlie at charlie [at] circleofsecurityinternational [dot] com.

The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.

Martin Luther King, Facing the Challenge of a New Age, 1956