Oklahoma City, Okla. — A report released today explores the crucial role of adults in supporting the healthy development of youth—and how practitioners can successfully integrate adult co-regulation into their existing programs.

“While previous research has underscored the importance of self-regulation for relationships, employment, and well-being across the lifespan, this groundbreaking report examines how adults can act as co-regulators in their interactions with youth,” said Aly Frei of Public Strategies, who directs the SARHM project.

SARHM — Self-Regulation Training Approaches and Resources to Improve Staff Capacity for Implementing Healthy Marriage Programs for Youth — is a formative research project funded by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) in partnership with the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE). OPRE’s Aleta Meyer and Caryn Blitz are the Federal Project Officers for SARHM.

“Warm, responsive adults have a powerful influence on youth self-regulation development. Enhancing staff capacity for co-regulation is a promising approach to improve youth and program outcomes,” said Frei. SARHM builds on the foundational work published in OPRE’s Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Series, which identified gaps both in interventions for youth ages 14-24 (a pivotal age range for self-regulation development) and in resources for youth-serving practitioners. The work is part of ongoing efforts at the Administration for Children and Families to communicate the potential of a self-regulation framework for strengthening prevention programs and human services.

Through SARHM, a team of researchers and practitioners from Public Strategies, Mathematica, and select Relationship Education (RE) programs developed strategies that providers could use to foster youth self-regulation. The study focused on programs serving youth ages 14 to 24—a pivotal age for brain and self-regulation development.

Self-regulation refers to the ways people manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to reach their goals. Co-regulation is the supportive process between caring adults and youth that fosters self-regulation.

The report details how researchers in prevention science and public health partnered with practitioners delivering youth relationship education to translate the theory of co-regulation into action through strategies that can be used in most programs for youth.

“SARHM provides practitioners with tools to embed co-regulation into their programs to support healthy youth development, with approaches grounded in brain science and developmental psychology,” said Scott Baumgartner of Mathematica, SARHM’s Principal Investigator. “The strategies are mindful of program and practitioner realities and can be effectively layered onto existing programs.”

Educators participating in SARHM reported that with practice, the co-regulation strategies improved youth engagement and reduced disruptions, such as youth talking over one another or using cell phones during sessions. In addition, educators reported greater understanding of the value of self-regulation and how they could amplify the impact of their program through co-regulation.

Learn more in the SARHM final report and executive summary. Learn more about OPRE’s foundational work in the Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Series.


About the Office of Family Assistance (OFA)
The Office of Family Assistance (OFA) administers federal grant programs that foster family economic security and stability, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF) program, Native Employment Works, Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants, Health Profession Opportunity Grants, and Tribal TANF-Child Welfare Coordination grants.

About OPRE
The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) is responsible for advising the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of programs to improve the economic and social well-being of children and families. OPRE studies ACF programs and the populations they serve through rigorous research and evaluation projects.

About Public Strategies
Public Strategies operates at the crossroads of human services, research, marketing, and technology. The firm’s pioneering work in program design, communication, strategic consulting, and technical assistance has established Public Strategies’ national reputation for innovation and impact. Public Strategies is also committed to advancing the public good at the local level through high-impact direct services designed to strengthen families, individuals, and communities.

About Mathematica
Mathematica is an insight partner that illuminates the path to progress for public- and private-sector changemakers. The firm applies expertise at the intersection of data, methods, policy, and practice, translating big questions into deep insights that weather the toughest tests. Driven by its mission to improve public well-being, Mathematica collaborates closely with its clients to improve programs, refine strategies, and enhance understanding.