depression or to offer prevention and treatment services that can improve the care of the depressed parent in a framework that also offers services for children. In addition to improving depression care for adults, therefore, is the need to develop and implement an identification, treatment, and prevention strategy that can respond to the parenting and caregiving roles of the affected parents and their children. Although depression has been documented as a major concern in multiple programs that serve families and children (e.g., Head Start; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), federal and state responses to this problem are diffuse and fragmented across multiple health and human service agencies.

In short, parental depression is prevalent, but a comprehensive strategy to treat the depressed adults and to prevent problems in the children in their care is absent. National leadership, interagency collaboration, state-based linkage efforts, and collaboration with the private sector are what is lacking in the United States at this time to effectively support the development and evaluation of a framework that integrates health, mental health, public health, and parenting in a life-course framework, from pregnancy through adolescence. There is also a lack of support for public and professional education, training, infrastructure development, and implementation efforts to improve the quality of services for affected families and vulnerable children. Likewise, funds rarely exist for research, data collection, or evaluation efforts that might lead to improved prevention and treatment services for this population.



The Committee on Depression, Parenting Practices, and the Healthy Development of Children was charged with reviewing the relevant literature on parental depression, its interaction with parenting practices, and its effects on children and families. In conducting this study, the committee

  • clarified what is known about interactions among depression and its co-occurring conditions, parenting practices, and child health and development;

  • identified the findings, strengths, and limitations of the evidentiary base that support assessment, treatment, and prevention interventions for depressed parents and their children;

  • highlighted disparities in the prevalence, prevention, treatment, and outcomes of parental depression among different sociode-

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