M. Ann Easterbrooks

M. Ann Easterbrooks

(617) 627-3355
105 College Avenue
Research/Areas of Interest:

Developmental risk and resilience; child maltreatment; parent-child emotional availability and attachment relationships; maternal depression; adolescent parenting; relational and contextual supports for thriving


  • PhD, Developmental Psychology, University of Michigan, United States, 1982
  • MS, Developmental Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Somerville, United States, 1978
  • BA, Developmental and Child Clinical Psychology, University of Washington, United States, 1976


I am an applied developmental scientist whose work focuses on the individual, relational, familial, and broader contextual characteristics that present challenges and opportunities for developmental thriving among infants, young children, and parents. My work embraces a bioecological approach (Bronfenbrenner, 2001) to understanding the mutual relations between people and their contexts. I work within a multidisciplinary approach, collaborating with investigators and students using both basic and applied research frameworks (via naturalistic observations in homes, and laboratory assessments) with the aim of fostering rigorous scholarship that can be used to inform both theory and practice. The ultimate goal is to conduct research that can be translated into programs and policies that will enhance the lives of diverse children and their families.

I have particular interests in the following topics: resilience, maternal depression, parent-child emotional availability and attachment, emotion regulation, child maltreatment, and effects of relationships (e.g., father-mother, Intimate Partner Violence, social support; child care provider-parent) on parenting and infant and child development.

Research Interests:

Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation
For more than a decade, I have been a Principal Investigator (with colleagues Profs. Francine Jacobs, Child Development, and Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning; and Jayanthi Mistry, Child Development) on the Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation, an examination of the Healthy Families Massachusetts (HFM) program. HFM is a statewide program offered by the Massachusetts Children's Trust Fund that provides home-visiting based services for parents under the age of 21, from pregnancy until their child's third birthday. The program aims to support families in positive adaptation of parents and children. Specific goals include: a) prevention of child abuse and neglect by fostering positive parenting; b) facilitating parental educational and occupational attainment; c) preventing repeat teen pregnancies; d) fostering optimal child health and development; and e) promoting maternal well-being, including depression. Our approach is to examine both how the program is implemented in different contexts that may vary by characteristics of program participants, community resources and risks; and whether and in what ways the program is effective in attaining its goals to support and strengthen families. Currently we are conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the program, in which we are examining treatment and comparison groups of families on indicators of program effectiveness.

Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation Early Childhood Longitudinal Study
This study is a longitudinal followup of the families who participated in the RCT evaluation of Healthy Families Massachusetts (see description above). Data from several early intervention and prevention programs, some with a home visiting component, provide support for the need to continue to examine long-term effects of early service programs. We again are visiting children and their families in their homes when children are preschool and kindergarten-aged in order to understand their developmental trajectories from pregnancy to age six, and potential longer-term HFM program effects. In addition to examining these long-term effects on the original goal areas, area of focus of the longitudinal followup include: a) children's school readiness; b) children's emotion regulation and executive functioning; c) family use of, and engagement with, other service programs; d) mother-child interaction; e) formal supports (e.g., child care, school) and informal supports (e.g., relationships with fathers of the children, romantic partners) that may foster positive adaptation.

Toddler Development Project
With Prof. Ellen Pinderhughes, Dr. Laurie Miller (Tufts School of Medicine), and several graduate students, I have been conducting a st