The New Caregiver Wellbeing SIG
Authors: Dana Bakula, PhD & Chrissy Salley, PhD
In April of 2021, a group of 21 members of the Society of Pediatric Psychology met via zoom to discuss the idea of a new SIG focused on caregiver wellbeing. By August, the SIG had earned board approval, and now, less than a year after the concept was developed, our SIG has over 100 members.
The Caregiver Wellbeing SIG’s mission is to provide a forum for members of SPP to share and learn about working with caregivers in pediatric settings. It has long been known that caregiver wellbeing impacts child wellbeing (Drotar, 1997). This SIG was born out of the idea that we, as pediatric psychologists, cannot provide optimal care to children without acknowledging and addressing the needs of caregivers. Currently, many pediatric psychologists regularly address caregiver wellbeing in their work, but a striking number of our colleagues have shared that overcoming barriers to treating caregivers is a significant challenge. They cite concerns such as feeling they lack the training and knowledge needed to feel confident treating caregivers, institutional barriers, and practical issues such as a lack of resources to meet the demand. Thus, our SIG aims to provide a source of support and community for pediatric psychologists interested in caregiver wellbeing work.
The Caregiver Wellbeing SIG is led by Co-Chairs, Chrissy Salley, PhD and Dana Bakula, PhD. The SIG has four subcommittees (each with two co-chairs) and two trainee representatives. Our SIG has been exceptionally active and has already accomplished an astonishing amount in these first six months. Current SIG activities include:
The Research Subcommittee is developing a manuscript review mentorship program, a research repository, and student poster awards for SPPAC. Co-Chairs: Kendra Parris, PhD and Beverly Bernal, PsyD
The Outreach Subcommittee is running our social media accounts (Twitter and Instagram), publishing a series of blog posts related to caregiver wellbeing on infoaboutkids.org, developing a resource bank for caregivers, and collaborating with the Center for Pediatric Psychology at Oklahoma State for a new video series that will highlight caregivers. Co-Chairs: Colleen Driscoll, PhD and Theresa Kapke, PhD
The Education Subcommittee is developing a needs assessment of training in caregiver wellbeing among graduate training programs and plans to develop educational trainings for learners of all levels in the future. Co-Chairs: Rachel Moore, PhD and Christina Sharkey, PhD
The Clinical Practice Subcommittee is working to identify how institutions around the country are addressing caregiver wellbeing in their clinical practice, including compiling information on billing codes, documentation practices, and challenges faced. Co-Chairs: Cate Flanagan, PhD and Nicole Dempster, PhD
Trainees: Our SIG is comprised of more than 40% trainees. We have trainees active in each subcommittee. We have two trainee representatives (Nicole Ruppe and Kody Sexton) who are dedicated to identifying how we can best serve our trainee members, including through hosting an upcoming trainee meeting.
The Caregiver Wellbeing SIG is unique from other SIGs in how we have centered engagement with caregivers in our strategic plans. Our group decided at the outset that we wanted to both directly disseminate our knowledge to caregivers, but also for our work to be informed by caregivers with lived experience. Examples of how we have engaged with caregivers to date include: 1) Our SIG is presenting an upcoming symposium at SPPAC together with psychologists and caregivers. 2) Our SIG initiated the development of the Division 54 Caregiver Affinity Group. 3) Our SIG developed an Instagram page aimed at disseminating evidence-based information about caregiver wellbeing directly to caregivers. 4) Our SIG partnered with infoaboutkids.org to write a series of blog posts about caregiver wellbeing. 5) In our inaugural newsletter, we featured feedback from caregivers about what they want pediatric psychologists to know about working with caregivers.
The Caregiver Wellbeing SIG membership grows every week, and we could not be prouder of how much this group has achieved in these first six months. This SIG is a testament to what can be accomplished when a group of smart, talented, and passionate pediatric psychologists come together with a shared vision.
If you would like to join the Caregiver Wellbeing SIG, please register via the pedpsych.org membership portal. If you are already a member, and would like to join a subcommittee, please email Dana Bakula and/or Chrissy Salley. To stay connected with the SIG on social media, follow us on Twitter @CaregiverSIGSPP and Instagram @caregiverwellbeingspp. You can also visit our website for updates.
Drotar, D. (1997). Relating parent and family functioning to the psychological adjustment of children with chronic health conditions: what have we learned? What do we need to know?. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 22(2), 149-165.
Caption: Caregiver Wellbeing SIG February Leadership Meeting