Bucharest Early Intervention Project
Summarize the Bucharest Early Intervention Project of 2001.
The Bucharest Early Intervention Project of 2001 was a controlled trial to observe the effect of early intervention of children who had been abandoned around the time of birth at one of a few institutions in Bucharest. The researchers took half the children out of their sub-optimal institutionalized care conditions and placed them in foster families. In the years that followed, they were able to observe the effects of early intervention on childhood development and perhaps more importantly, explain with scientific evidence what elements of caretaking have a direct effect on infant and child development. Overall, they found that the early intervention did make a significant impact in the child’s ability to catch up to normal development benchmarks, but certain other areas, like head circumference – perhaps the intervention was still too late to affect this area of development?
Describe how the children were selected to either go to foster homes or stay in the institution.
Children between ages 6 mos and 2 ½ years were selected at random to go to foster homes or stay in the institution. Since there was no foster care in Romania at the time, the researchers recruited and trained the foster families themselves. Part of my wonders about the training of the foster families, whether they exhibited more involved childcare than an average Bucharest family, or if they were fairly standard compared to other foster family care.
Summarize 3 outcomes of this project
1) We now have a better understanding of the effects of touch, affection, and generally attentive care on human development. While a baby interacting with family as part of a loving family unit might seem commonplace to most, we now know the negative side effects of an environment lacking those details.
2) We can see the real effects of sub-par care in orphanages. Aside from the more obvious emotional trauma a child might carry with them coming from an orphanage, we know that there are also physical effects, and these are irreversible in many cases, depending on how early the intervention is.
3) People involved in foster care or orphanages have more information at their disposal for how to hone their caretaking skills and be the most effective they can be. I’d like to think that orphanages and foster parents around the world are aware of these dangers and have implemented new practices to avoid similar cases.