Boston Globe Supports Child-Centered Family Law Legislation

Massachusetts Bill Upholds Best Interests of Children

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES, June 24, 2016 /EINPresswire.com/ — National Parents Organization applauds the Boston Globe for supporting Massachusetts’ Child-Centered Family Law bill and urges legislators to support the best interests of children by following the Globe’s advice and passing H4107, that was previously known as both S834 and H1207.

In the June 20 Globe editorial “Repeat After Us: Pass these Worthy Bills,” the editorial board wrote, “Massachusetts’ child custody laws are outdated. The Child-Centered Family Law bill acknowledges a widely held belief that isn’t always reflected in court orders: Children benefit from spending significant time with both parents. The legislation would encourage family-court judges to grant parents shared custody, with a child spending at least one-third of the time with each parent.”

Dr. Ned Holstein, M.D., Founder and Board Chair of Boston-based National Parents Organization, said, “As the clock ticks on this legislative session, the most pressing need for the children of Massachusetts is passage of the Child-Centered Family Law. Thank you, Boston Globe editorial board, for rightly urging legislators to make the best interests of children a top priority. We’ve long known that children desperately want and need shared parenting after divorce, and Massachusetts is long overdue for aligning our family courts with the overwhelming amount of research in favor of shared parenting.”

Almost 50 bipartisan Massachusetts legislators serve as sponsors and co-sponsors of the proposal. The proposal was born out of recommendations from the 18 distinguished stakeholders former Gov. Patrick appointed to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child-Centered Family Law, including NPO’s Dr. Holstein.

Currently, Massachusetts courts award sole physical custody to one parent, not shared parenting, a great majority of the time after divorce. While shared parenting remains unusual nationwide, it is gaining momentum. For instance, within the past year, at least two states – Utah and Minnesota – joined the list of states with laws supportive of shared parenting. Plus, another nearly 20 states have considered similar laws, and shared parenting bills have passed the state legislature and traveled to the Governor’s desk in two states in recent months – a Florida proposal was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott, and reform in Missouri is awaiting the signature of Governor Jay Nixon.

“I can’t think of a more historic close to the end of the 2016 Massachusetts legislative session than for our state to enact the Child-Centered Family Law,” Dr. Holstein said. “It will vastly improve the lives of the smaller number of children whose parents insist on a custody battle, as well as the large number of children whose parents agree to negotiate, and who will be likely to agree on shared parenting knowing that this would be the likely outcome if they litigated instead.”

MEDIA SOURCE

Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S., Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization

A regular contributor to local and national media, Dr. Holstein is Founder and Chair of the Board of National Parents Organization. Dr. Holstein was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child Centered Family Law, and he was previously appointed by a Massachusetts Chief Justice to a task force charged with reviewing and revising the state's child support guidelines.

A graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Holstein also earned a Master's degree in psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical degree is from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he serves on the faculty.

ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION

National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org.

Nancy Rigdon
National Parents Organization
913-544-1458
email us here


Source: EIN Presswire

New evidence links exclusive breastfeeding, early play / stimulation to children's later success

Credit: School Transition and Readiness Project, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Aga Khan University. High res: bit.ly/1WLxvFu

Saving Brains Partnership

Babies exclusively breastfed to 6 months old half as likely to have later conduct disorders;
Enriched play / stimulation to age 2 creates brighter 4-year-olds

These studies show how parents can help develop smart, social kids who make good decisions: breastfeed babies and play with children

— Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO, Grand Challenges Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, June 21, 2016 /EINPresswire.com/ — A pair of new studies further strengthen scientific understanding of the links between what a child experiences in the first years of life and later childhood behaviour and abilities.

Funded by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada, researchers working in South Africa and Pakistan report their findings in papers launched today.

In the first study, an international team led by Dr Ruth M. Bland at the Africa Centre for Population Health assessed over 1,500 children in South Africa, 900 of whom had been involved in an early infant feeding study.

They found longer durations of exclusive breastfeeding strongly associated with fewer conduct disorders at ages 7 to 11 years. Children exclusively breastfed for the recommended six months, compared with those exclusively breastfed for less than one month, were approximately half (56 percent) as likely to have conduct disorders at primary school age.

Other highlighted findings, published in PLOS Medicine, included:

* Important determinants of a child's cognitive development: attending creche (preschool) and mother's IQ
* Children who attended creche for at least one year were 74 percent more likely to have higher executive function (which enables us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. The brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses. Executive function, therefore, influences educational and social success.)
* Children stimulated at home, such as through play, were one third (36 percent) more likely to have higher executive function scores
* There was weaker evidence that, for boys, exclusive breastfeeding for more than one month improved cognitive development.

The study also examined a number of current life factors that might influence children's development, finding that children were two-and-a-half times more likely to exhibit emotional-behavioural problems if their mothers had a current mental health problem or severe parenting stress.

"The duration of exclusive breastfeeding of an infant has greater importance than previously realized in several areas of development," said lead author Dr Tamsen J. Rochat of the Human Science Research Council, Durban, South Africa.

"For example, childhood onset conduct disorders can lead to aggressive or disruptive behaviours, which interfere with learning and peer relationships, in turn leading to low self-esteem and further behavioural problems. Conduct disorders that start in childhood and persist into the teen years are associated with an increase in antisocial (and potentially violent or criminal) behaviours, poor long-term mental health and low academic achievement in later life."

"Evidence from studies in high-income countries suggests that the economic cost of conduct disorders is enormous," added Dr Bland. For example, a publication from the United Kingdom cited in the paper estimates the annual cost of crime attributable to people who had a conduct disorder in childhood at US$117 billion.

The study was also one of the first to assess the impact of HIV exposure on the development of primary school-age children in Africa. Previous studies suggested that children, although themselves HIV-negative, were disadvantaged if they were born to HIV-positive mothers, particularly in the areas of emotional and behavioural development. This study found that HIV-negative children born to HIV-positive mothers performed as well as those born to HIV-negative mothers.

Play and communication — "responsive stimulation" — pays dividends for impoverished rural children in Pakistan

The second paper, published by The Lancet Global Health and led by Dr Aisha K. Yousafzai of Aga Khan University, Karachi, followed up a cohort of impoverished children in rural Pakistan whose parents had been guided on strengthening nutritional care and "responsive stimulation" used to the end of age 2.

In the responsive stimulation intervention, caregivers were coached to observe and respond to their child's cues during play and communication activities, improving the quality of interactions.

The intervention, adapted from the UNICEF and the World Health Organization's 'Care for Child Development' approach (which is readily available online), included using everyday household items or homemade toys to stimulate children's cognitive, language, motor and affective (emotional/feeling) skills.

At age 4, children who received the responsive stimulation intervention were, to varying degrees, more likely to have:

* Higher IQ
* Better pre-academic skills (in sizes and comparisons, and shapes)
* Better executive functioning
* More pro-social behaviour.

The follow-up study also found parents were better caregivers.

The research involved 1,302 four-year-olds and their mothers from the original study, which had likewise shown that responsive stimulation "significantly benefitted children's cognitive, language and motor development at two years." The investigators intend to follow this cohort throughout their schooling.

"The abilities fostered by stimulation are important for readiness and a successful transition to preschool," said Dr Yousafzai. "The competencies assessed in this study have been shown to predict school engagement and longer-term academic attainment."

"Other studies have shown that the early success of children clearly links to their productivity and income potential later in life and, at a large scale, impacts the economic well-being of societies."

The inclusion of stimulation intervention in health programs is important to support healthy development. It is hoped more research will follow that will provide insights on how to optimize integrated packages of health, growth and development.

The newly published research from South Africa and Pakistan closely follows the release of another Grand Challenges Canada study, conducted by Harvard University, showing that one-third of 3- or 4-year-olds in low- and middle-income countries don't reach expected developmental milestones.

Grand Challenges Canada funded the studies as part of its contribution to the growing international "Saving Brains" partnership, which convenes for a conference in Toronto June 21-22, focused on the results from 11 follow-up studies, including the two publications launched today.

"One in three children in 'developing' countries are in fact failing to develop to their full potential. These studies show how parents can help develop smart, social kids who make good decisions: breastfeed babies and play with children," said Dr Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada.

About Saving Brains: www.savingbrainsinnovation.net

About Grand Challenges Canada: www.grandchallenges.ca

Terry Collins
Grand Challenges Canada
4168788712
email us here


Source: EIN Presswire