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Diving Deeper with Debbie Alleyne of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health


Debbie Alleyne's work is interesting, important and relevant to many of us here in the ACEsConnectionNetwork. She shared far more than I could include in the "Putting resilience and resilience surveys under the microscope," story published on ACEsTooHigh today. Luckily, we space to get more in-depth here.  

More about Debbie Alleyne's job.   

"I am Early Childhood Specialist, National Trainer and Author for the Center for Resilient Children (DCRC).  Our mission is to promote social and emotional development, foster resilience and build skills for school and life success in children birth through school-age, as well as to promote the resilience of the adults who care for them.  We do this by conducting scientific research, developing standardized assessments, developing resources for professionals and families, and providing national training and technical assistance,  all related to our mission of promoting social and emotional development and resilience."

Why it's important to define and measure resilience.  

"Resilience is a message of hope.  It is important for everyone to know that no matter their experience, there is always hope for a positive outcome.  Risk does not define destiny.

Measurement is important because decisions about how to optimize a child’s social and emotional development must be based on reliable and valid information from multiple sources. The DCRC approach uses data to inform decisions and also track progress.

An effective assessment not only offers a means of measuring desired behaviors but also can serve to foster effective communication among all adults who know and care for the child.

In a recent article written by Paul LeBuffe, Director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children and author of the Devereux Early Childhood Assessments and Devereux Student Strengths Assessment, he is quoted as saying “what’s treasured should be measured.”

The difference between resilience scales or surveys or checklists.  

"Likely these terms are interchangeable, however it is important to know if they are research-informed.  Some have validity and reliability studies completed.  DCRC's child assessments are all standardized, strength-based, reliable, valid, normed tools that provide standardized scores that can be used to measure outcomes and/or to drive program design and strategies related to protective factors and social and emotional wellbeing.    Our adult resilience survey, on the other hand, is research-informed, but is not nationally standardized.  It is important to understand the development process for any resilience tools so that they can be used appropriately."

When asked if resilience is an internal characteristic or if it's related to protective factors a child has.

"Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenging experiences or risk.  According to research, people who have strong protective factors are more likely to be resilient, bounce back when faced with challenges and risk,  and experience a more successful and happy life.

While some children are more naturally resilient than others, protective factors and resilience can be intentionally nurtured in children.  All children are different and grow at different rates at different times in their lives depending upon many variables including things such as life experiences, temperament, and internal strengths.  It is most important to remember that protective factors and resilience can be nurtured in all children no matter their risk or ACEs.  No child or adult is without hope for healing and a more positive life outcome." 

If Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) considered in any surveys? 

"ACEs are a set of specific risk factors.  In the broader view, risk factors are those challenges all children and adults face in life.  Without protective factors to buffer the negative effects of risk, there is an increased likelihood of a negative life outcome.  Our assessments and surveys measure protective factors versus measuring risk factors." 

If resilience is different in children and adults.  

"Resilience is not different, however protective factors that adults and children have may look different.  For example, having positive and strong relationships and attachments is an important protective factor for both children and adults, but it may “look different” in children or adults.  For example in children we might emphasize the importance of supportive, consistent caregiver or adult relationship whereas when talking about adults, we might be thinking more about supportive peer relationships."

How parents respond to resilience surveys.  

"Our experience has been that parents respond very positively to surveys and assessments when they trust that the results will be used to identify and build upon strengths versus only focus on deficits.  It is also important for parents to know that results will be used to inform goals they may choose to set for themselves and/or their children."

Adult Survey, Devereux

Note: Please share any of your resilience-related thoughts and tools as well. 


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  • Adult Survey, Devereux

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