Implementation & Pilot Projects

The Center for Parents and Children (CPC) has seed funding to support 1-2 small pilot projects each year.  These pilot projects are critical to our goals of increasing the use of evidence-based programs in our community, promoting research collaborations with agencies serving the Pittsburgh community, and adapting current evidence-based interventions for use with novel populations.  Pilot projects can serve an important function for launching the empirical testing of new ideas, with the potential for future scaling up with local, state, and/or Federal funding, ultimately leading to change in social policy. 


Family Check-Up in Family Centers                                                  7/2018 – present

The CPC has been partnering with Allegheny County Department of Human Services to offer the Family Check-Up in 10 Family Centers in Allegheny County.  This initiative has been funded since 2018 through a Home Visiting Expansion Grant funded by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). 

Adding the Family Check-Up (FCU) service to Family Centers has provided an evidence-based option to fill a gap in service options for families. The FCU shares the values of Family Centers, including a focus on family strengths and relationships, a commitment to nurturing natural supports within existing family and community systems, and an emphasis on promoting the healthy emotional and cognitive development of children. Both the FCU and Family Centers aim to empower parents and support their efforts to be effective and successful in their lives as parents, individuals, and members of their communities.  

The FCU has been offered at the following Family Centers: 

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Family Care Connections 

  • Penn Hills Family Care Connection 
  • Turtle Creek Family Care Connection 
  • Hilltop Family Care Connection 
  • Rankin Family Care Connection 
  • Braddock Family Care Connection 
  • Lawrenceville Family Care Connection 

Kingsley Association 

  • East Liberty Family Support Center 

Trying Together 

  • Homewood-Brushton Family Support Center 

Urban League and Allegheny Intermediate Unit 

  • Duquesne Family Support Center 

 Allegheny Intermediate Unit 

  • Wilkinsburg Family Center 

CPC Pilot Projects:


Pediatric Community Care:  Smart Beginnings for Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (2017-2018)

This pilot project was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Debra Bogen at Children’s Hospital and Magee Women’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to improve the caregiving practices of parents of newborns with a recent history of opioid exposure. The study explored the integrated use of a universal intervention, Video Interaction Project, and a selected intervention, the Family Check-Up, with mothers and their newborns who have Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).  This study represented an opportunity to examine the feasibility and adaptability of utilizing these two evidence-based programs with a small sample (N = 10) in this specific population, and led to state funding to implement the Smart Beginnings Program with Early Intervention for infants with NAS in Beaver County, PA. 


Early Head Start: The FCU in Early Head Start (2018-2019)

This pilot project was conducted in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development (OCD) Early Head Start Program. It involved the implementation of the Family Check-Up with a small sample (N = 10) of families already enrolled in the Early Head Start (EHS) home visiting program.  Based on a screening tool administered to families by EHS home visitors after 6 months of enrollment, those families demonstrating continuing child and family risks also received the Family Check-Up. This study assessed the potential for implementation of the FCU for select EHS families, including immigrant families living in the Pittsburgh area. Overall, findings suggested strong feasibility and acceptability of the program and high potential for scaling up the program. However, because the Center has become over-extended in supporting other efforts (e.g., development and implementation of The Pittsburgh Study), further work in this area has remained dormant. 


Seed Funding for Pilot Projects:

If you have an idea for conducting a research study in the Pittsburgh community, including both basic and applied foci, contact Dr. Daniel Shaw ( for more details. Projects are limited to $30,000 and one year of funding, with a preference for work that already has or will have potential for application in the community.

Opportunities for Collaboration:

For faculty interested in collaborating on some of our existing projects (see list of ongoing projects and community collaborating agencies) or using our expertise to develop your own basic or applied research idea with a community sample, please contact Dr. Shaw at (412 624-1836).