What is the Indicator of Caregiver-Child Interaction (IPCI)?
The Indicator of Caregiver-Child Interaction (IPCI) is a progress monitoring measure designed to provide information about the important general outcome of interactions in which caregivers and other primary caregivers respond to their child in ways that promote positive social-emotional behaviors. This General Outcome is directly related to social-emotional competence, another highly accepted and valued General Outcome in early childhood. Performance is measured through repeated assessment of the same key skills using the same set of caregiving activities and scoring procedure.
Unique features of the IPCI as compared to many existing approaches include the following: (1) focus is on key caregiver and child behaviors that signal or indicate the quality of the caregiver-child interaction and that are predictive of social-emotional outcomes in young children, (2) focus is on activities that typically occur where caregivers and very young children interact such as in homes with caregivers or other caregivers or in child care settings, (3) it can be administered within 10 minutes by a variety of practitioners that typically provide early intervention services (e.g., Part C Early Intervention staff, Early Head Start staff, nurses, counselors, and social workers), (4) it is designed for frequently repeated administration in family homes or center-based settings; and (5) reports can be generated automatically through the IGDI website (described below) to guide intervention decision-making.
Why Another Measure for Assessing Caregiver-Child Interaction?
Caregiver or caregiver-child interaction is the earliest and foremost mechanism for promoting positive social-emotional behavior and development in very young children. While infant mental health theory, evidence-based practices for supporting positive behavior in young children, and routines-based intervention in early childhood all emphasize the importance of caregiver-child interaction in promoting children’s early social-emotional behavior, few assessment tools exist for assisting practitioners in efficiently screening caregiver-child interactions to determine the level of risk for poor development and to monitor the progress expected with intervention.
This gap is illustrated by a host of limitations of more commonly available measures. These include administration requirements beyond the training and experience of most early intervention service providers, measures that are too long and complicated for repeated use in homes and child care settings, and lack of readily available reports that can illustrate progress toward important outcomes.
To advance effective practice for supporting early caregiver-child interaction and young children’s early social-emotional development, specific characteristics are needed in measures of caregiver-child interaction. That is, to be useful for practitioners providing early intervention services, measures need to meet the following criteria:
- They need to focus on key caregiver and child behaviors that signal or indicate quality of caregiver-child interaction and that are predictive of social-emotional outcomes in young children
- They need to focus on behaviors that occur in the context of natural settings where caregivers and children typically interact
- They need to be easy to administer for individuals across multiple disciplines with various levels of training (e.g., Part C early intervention staff, Early Head Start staff, social workers, counselors, and nurses).
- They need to be suitable for quick and frequently repeated administration in homes or child care settings