The Bioecological Model

Exploring how children’s relationships and environment interact to help them thrive.

What is the Bioecological Model?

The bioecological model is based on the idea that the relationships children have with parents and caregivers impacts their development – and that these relationships are affected by their work, school, and community settings, which are in turn affected by broader social, cultural, and policy conditions. These many layers of relationships and environments interact with each other – ultimately influencing how children develop and become resilient. This theory of human development was originally proposed by Urie Bronfenbrenner and Stephen J. Ceci in 1994.

How we use the model at CCFW

The “bioecological” or “whole child” model sits at the core of our approach. We recognize the roles that individuals, families, communities and society play in influencing children’s development, and engage the whole community to support their resilience. Grounded in research, our programs share  social-emotional skills, mindfulness, and compassion practices with parents, caregivers, educators, and practitioners – to support well-being for all.

Child & Youth Well-Being and Resilience

Through our research, we examine interdependent systems that support child and youth well-being, including mental and physical health, social and emotional adjustment, physiological stress responses and academic achievement. 

Parent & Family Well-Being

We know that parents and families play a critical role in supporting children’s social, emotional and behavioral well-being, and their ability to develop resilience. We support these relationships by studying and sharing effective parenting practices based in mindfulness and self-compassion.  

Supportive school, work and family environments

We’ve observed how families become resilient when they can draw on support from extended family, teachers, employers and care providers. We engage this network of supportive individuals and systems by sharing evidence-based trainings, workshops and tools.

Neighborhoods and communities

Through our research, we examine the effects of different kinds of adversities (such as social inequity, crime, economic status, and pollution) on neighborhoods and communities, and how these factors impact children’s well-being. Our findings are translated into culturally-informed programs and resources co-created with communities that experience inequity and adversity.

Social, economic and cultural contexts and policies

To thrive, all children and families need stable housing, food security, economic opportunity, freedom from violence and hate, health and mental health care, high-quality child-care and education. While our work focuses on supporting the social-emotional well-being of children and the adults in their lives, we situate our work in a recognition of and advocacy for safe, stable, nurturing relationships and contexts. We aim to inform policy by responsibly sharing current research in a variety of ways and convening “Research to Real World” forums that align policymakers, philanthropists, and practitioners around shared evidence-based efforts.