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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: November 2011

7 - Transactional Regulation: The Developmental Ecology of Early Intervention


The prevention of children's psychosocial disorders has not been an easily accomplished task. During the years since we wrote this last sentence in our chapter for the first edition of this book (Sameroff & Fiese, 1990), the lives of children in the United States have not improved. The Children's Defense Fund (1995) estimates that between 3 and 10 million children experience domestic violence yearly, with more than a million confirmed child abuse or neglect cases in 1993. Mental health also continues to be a major problem, with approximately 20% of children having diagnosable disorders (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990). Surveys of child health found that 13.4% of children in the United States have emotional or behavioral disorders, 6.5% have learning disabilities, and 4% have developmental delays (Zill & Schoenborn, 1990). Decreasing these numbers requires a clear understanding of the causes of these childhood problems. One of the clear correlates of increases in child problems is the decline in the quality of children's environments.

Concurrent with the high level of problems among children, family resources for coping with these problems have diminished. In 1991, 22% of children lived in families with incomes below the poverty line, the highest rate since the early 1960s (Children's Defense Fund, 1992). During the same period, the percentage of female-headed singleparent homes increased from 7% to more than 21% (McLanahan, Astone, & Marks, 1991). Moreover, 75% of mothers of school-age children are in the workforce now compared to about 50% in 1970 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1993).

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Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention
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