Early Intervention Foster Care

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

Five-year trial testing the efficacy of a preventive intervention designed to reduce risk and improve long-term outcomes for preschoolers in the foster care system.

Project Overview

Early Intervention Foster Care (EIFC) was a 5 year randomized trial to test the efficacy of a preventive intervention designed to reduce risk and improve long-term outcomes preschool-aged children in the foster care system. The EIFC intervention is a developmentally-focused approach to addressing the behavioral and developmental problems common in this population. Outcomes of interest included foster care disruption rates, rates of reunification with biological parents and other successful long-term placements, changes in behavior and cognitive functioning, and success in school. We also examined whether changes in young children’s behavioral regulation are connected to changes in areas of the brain related to stress response. In order to examine this question, saliva samples were collected from the study children to test for cortisol levels. Over the 5 years of the project, a total of 180 children between the ages of 3 and 5 were enrolled in a 24 month assessment protocol.

Funder: National Institute of Mental Health

Principal Investigator

Philip Fisher, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Fisher obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. He is a Senior Scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) and the Center for Research to Practice, both in Eugene, Oregon as well as a Professor of Psychology (clinical) at the University of Oregon. He is also Science Director for the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs and a Senior Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child, both based at Harvard University. Dr. Fisher’s work on children in foster care and the child welfare system includes (a) basic research characterizing the effects of early stress on neurobiological systems such as the HPA axis and areas of the prefrontal cortex involved in executive functioning; (b) the development of preventive interventions, including the Treatment Foster Care of Oregon Program for Preschoolers (TFCO-P) and the Kids in Transition to School Program (KITS); and (c) the dissemination of evidence-based practice in community settings. His work has been funded by a number of institutes of the National Institutes of Health, including NIDA, NIMH, and NICHD. He serves on a number of national advisory groups related to prevention science and community based research. His intervention programs are being implemented at sites throughout the United States and Europe.