SEACAP: Social and Emotional Competence for Children and Parents

Promoting child and parent social-emotional well-being

Since 2013, we have been developing and evaluating a parenting program called SEACAP: Social and Emotional Competence for Children and Parents. SEACAP promotes young children’s self-regulation, as well as social, emotional and behavioral adjustment through parenting strategies that contribute to children’s positive development. SEACAP also integrates mindfulness and DBT practices that support parent stress-management, emotion regulation, and well-being to promote both parent and child well-being. We collaborated with parents, providers and early learning centers in the development of this program. To date, almost 150 families have participated in SEACAP.

What is SEACAP?

We know that when parents have tools to manage their own stress and emotions, they are more effective in supporting their children. SEACAP promotes effective parenting practices and supports parents’ self-regulation and social-emotional skills through mindfulness and emotion regulation practices.  

What’s unique about SEACAP? 

  • It supports the well-being of both children and parents.
  • It incorporates mindfulness and emotion regulation practices.
  • It is brief, with 6 groups sessions and optional individual sessions. Group sessions provide parents with opportunities for sharing, discussion, practice and normalizing their experiences. Individual coaching sessions provide opportunities for parents to individualize and troubleshoot skills.
  • SEACAP is practical: it offers parents skills for supporting their children’s social-emotional development.
  • It is designed to be delivered by family advocates, teachers or behavioral consultants working in early learning settings.
  • It is easily integrated into early learning programs.

What we’re studying

We set out to study the effectiveness of this brief program that focused on enhancing both parent and child well-being. We were particularly interested in understanding how SEACAP could improve outcomes for parents and children experiencing stress and adversity, so all children can grow up resilient and thriving, particularly those from families living in a context of low-income or poverty. Too often, these families face high levels of stress from experiencing inequity and lack access to the resources and support they need to thrive.

What we’re learning

We evaluated SEACAP in early learning settings that offer programs for low-income families and family in transitional housing, and so far approximately 150 families have participated. In preliminary studies evaluating the effectiveness of SEACAP, we found that parents report feeling more in control of their emotions and behavior, and they engage in more effective parenting after the program. We observed parents coaching their children’s behaviors (using “scaffolding”) and showing fewer negative behaviors toward their children. Parents reported their children having improved social-emotional adjustment.

Parents indicated they are very satisfied with the program’s content and format. In particular, they reported appreciating the strategies for being present and mindful with their children, strategies for calming themselves down when they are upset, and practices for building warm and consistent relationships with their children.

What’s next

We continue evaluating SEACAP and looking for partners to implement and evaluate SEACAP at additional sites through community organizations that serve a diverse range of families, particularly using at task-sharing (link to task sharing) or train-the-trainer approach. As part of the UW’s Population Health Initiative, CCFW Director Dr. Liliana Lengua is partnering with colleagues from UW Schools of Medicine, Social Work, Law, and the Center for Healthy Equity, Diversity & Inclusion to adapt the SEACAP parenting program for Latinx families, and with ITHS funding, we are evaluating a task-sharing approach to offering SEACAP to parents who are returning to the community after incarceration.

Interested in Learning More?

Explore our resource library to learn more about mindfulness in parenting practices, and to find related resources for parents and practitioners.

The SEACAP published study was funded by the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child and the UW Center for Child and Family Well-Being. It was led by Dr. Liliana Lengua, UW Professor of Psychology and Director of CCFW. Additional authors were Erika Ruberry and Melanie Klein, graduate students in the UW Department of Psychology; Brinn Jones, an undergraduate student who helped conduct the research; and Corina McEntire, with Educational Service District No. 112 in Vancouver, Wash.