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Preventive Youth Care

Research Institute of Child Development and Education

This research group aims to identify the protective and empowering factors that help parents and their children to thrive. We do this by conducting intervention studies in families, schools, and peer groups, but also by conducting fundamental research to identify pathways of child and adolescent resilience, adaption and maladaptation over time.

Examples of our intervention studies are studies about the effects of parent training programs (such as Incredible Years, VIPP-SD, and Family Check-up) on parenting and children’s behavior and biological processes (related to (epi)genetics and stress) and studies about the effect of social skills training and anti-bullying intervention programs.

We examine processes of resilience, adaptation or maladaptation over time in different longitudinal studies, for instance on on youth growing up in at-risk families in Amsterdam, on social-emotional development of adolescents, on temper tantrums in toddlers, on sexual minority and gender nonconforming youth, on gay and lesbian-headed families, and on social-emotional development of children in childcare centers.

Prof. dr. G.J. (Geertjan) Overbeek

Head of Research Group Preventative Youth Care


Research Projects

  • Jeopardy

    Different children deal differently with all the stimuli that come to them on a daily basis. But we still know little about why some children are more or less sensitive to these stimuli from their environment. We are investigating how biological influences (such as the functioning of genes and hormones) and parenting play a role in this. We also want to know what kind of parenting support works best for parents and children to prevent defiant and oppositional behavior.

    • Period 2018-2023
    • Funding  Vici grant from NWO to Prof. Geertjan Overbeek
    • Researcher/contact Prof.Dr. Geertjan Overbeek
  • Family Check-Up

    Aim and Relevance:

    The aim of this research project is to assess the effects of the Family Check-Up (FCU; Dishion, 1990) in the Netherlands. The FCU is a family management intervention that is distinctive from other parenting interventions due to its brief character (i.e., only three sessions) and family-centered approach. Previous randomized controlled trial studies conducted in the Unites States and Sweden have shown positive effects for the FCU in a range of age-groups (e.g., Shaw et al., 2016; Smith et al., 2014). Besides intervention effects, this project will attend to the influence of urbanicity factors on intervention effects. Urban influences such as high population density, sensory overload, lack of green-space or environmental pollution—globally referred to as urban stress—may influence mental health (see Krabbendam et al. 2020 for an overview of current knowledge). Therefore, to gain a better understanding of what works for whom, this study will assess the influence of urbanicity on the effects of the FCU.


    The current research project aims to examine the evidence for the effectiveness for the FCU in the Netherlands. To do so, multiple studies into the effects of the FCU will be conducted.

    1. A meta-analysis will be conducted to assess the effects of the FCU found in previous international studies.
    2. The pilot-study by Scheffers-van Schayck and colleagues (under embargo) will be expanded to include a control group. This will allow us to compare the effects of the FCU to a no-treatment control group.
    3. We will also assess the effects of the FCU in the Dutch context using a longitudinal four-wave RCT-design. This study will be the first randomized controlled trial to assess the effects of FCU in the Netherlands. A secondary aim of this study is to assess intervention response trajectories of families that participated in the FCU.
    4. A final study of this research project will assess how and when the FCU changes parenting and parent/child behavior constructs.

    For this line of study, we will use ecological momentary assessments (EMA) to gain insights into the process of change that is induced by the FCU. This study will also collect qualitative data to contextualize quantitative findings, and will specifically focus on low-SES families.

    • Period. March 2020-March 2023.
    • Funding. UvA Research Priority Area Urban Mental Health.
    • Researcher/contact: Dr. Brechtje de Mooij