Rachel C. Cohen, HDFS Faculty Spotlight, September 2020

Associate Professor

Rachel Chazan CohenThroughout her career in government and academic settings, Dr. Rachel Chazan Cohen has worked to bridge the worlds of policy, practice, and research in early childhood. She aims to bring cutting-edge research to decision makers who make state and federal policies and to professionals who work directly with children and families. Her own research focuses on the biological, relational, and environmental factors influencing the development of children, and on the creation, evaluation, and improvement of intervention programs for families with infants and toddlers, including home visiting, child care, and Early Head Start.

While in the federal government, Rachel was the federal project officer for the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project, a large experimental study of the impacts of this federal program for children and families. She and her colleagues recently competed a follow up study of this sample and found long term impacts on reducing child maltreatment as a result of earlier impacts on parents and children.

Examples of her state level policy work include her current projects developing a competency-based credentialing system for child care providers in Massachusetts, and conducting a scan of the California home visiting workforce to inform improvements in the infrastructure supporting the workforce.

She is particularly interested in the competencies necessary for success in working with families with young children and how to build competencies through pre- and in-service training. She is a founding member of the Collaborative for the Understanding of the Pedagogy of Infant/Toddler Development (CUPID), a consortium of university-based researchers studying the teaching of infant/toddler development courses. Given this interest she is especially excited to be joining the early childhood team at UConn, who excel at preparing students to enter both the early childhood education workforce as well as other careers working with children and families.

Rachel is the scientific director of the National Research Conference on Early Childhood and coordinator of the Network of Infant Toddler Researchers, both funded by the Administration for Children and Families in the US Department of Health and Human Services. She is also on the editorial board of the Infant Mental Health Journal.

Outside of work, Rachel spends time with her family, Dan, a historian, their teenage twins and their energetic puppy. They enjoy biking, hiking, and cooking together. During Covid they have improved their cooking skills (and perfected many potato recipes) and are planning to start making wine in the basement.

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