The new KET Health Special Report Safe and Sound: Raising Emotionally Healthy Children in a Stressful World explores why social and emotional development is so important in the first years of life. It premieres Monday, April 21 at 9 p.m. on KET.

In addition, the public is invited to a screening and panel discussion of Safe and Sound in Louisville on Thursday, April 17 at the Kentucky Science Center at 5:30 p.m. It will be preceded at 4:30 p.m. by a reception at the Leadership Louisville Center at 732 W. Main Street. The event is free but there are a limited number of seats and registration is required. Registration is available online at

Research on brain development shows that positive early experiences are critical for long-term mental and physical health. When young children do not receive proper nurturing or they experience trauma or constant stress, it can have serious repercussions on their development. Through interviews with experts and profiles of programs across Kentucky, Safe and Sound presents ways that parents can foster good social and emotional development.

At the Center for Women & Infants (CWI) at the University of Louisville, Dr. Lawrence J. Wasser helps new parents understand the importance of attending to their baby’s needs right away in order to build trust. Libby Smith, nursing director of the CWI, also addresses the need for new parents to become educated about how to raise emotionally healthy children.

The program also features an expert panel with Dr. Ruth Ann Shepherd, director of Maternal and Child Health for the Kentucky Department for Public Health; Dr. H. Otto Kaak, associate director for the Center on Trauma and Children at the University of Kentucky; social worker Marta Miranda, director and CEO of Center for Women and Families in Louisville; and Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director and CEO of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Also in the Louisville area, Metro United Way employs advocates to reach out to parents in neighborhoods where families face income-related challenges and where kindergarten readiness rates are low. The outreach efforts center around a new parent-friendly screening tool called Ages and Stages Questionnaires.

Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) is a program for new parents offered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The program, available in all 120 Kentucky counties, supports parents with research-based information about how to foster good social and emotional development. Safe and Sound visits families in Clark County that have benefited from HANDS.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) focuses on strengthening the parent/child bond with dedicated play time coached by a professional, and Safe and Sound features a family in the Lexington area who utilized PCIT.

At the Mason County Detention Center, male inmates participate in a Nurturing Fathers class provided by the local University of Kentucky County Extension agent that helps them to explore what kind of parent they want to be.

An innovative Child Protective Services program called START (Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams) is helping parents who are striving for sobriety to maintain the parent/child bond. The program features the START program in Ashland.

More details about the projects featured in Safe and Sound are available at

Safe and Sound is a KET production, produced by Laura Krueger, and was funded in part by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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