The Family Study Center at USF St. Petersburg, directed by Dr. James McHale, is the home of both basic and applied research studies concerned with understanding, supporting, and advocating for families with young children. Since its inception, the Family Study Center has been a base for innovative new projects and initiatives to support coparenting and children’s development.
Our research is designed to provide new directions to enable the healthy development of children and families in Pinellas and in neighboring Florida counties; to provide a national model for family-sensitive supports; and to advocate for better and fully inclusive practices, policies, and laws.
The USF St. Petersburg Family Study Center is named as a GOLD Level Employer by the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition. The Florida Breastfeeding Friendly Employer Recognition Program is an award program to recognize businesses that are providing support in the workplace to their breastfeeding employees and the families they serve.
For more information on this award, please visit the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition website
To enable the healthy development of young children through family sensitive supports, training, advocacy and research.
To provide the opportunity for every child to grow up healthy, by being nurtured and supported by their families and their communities.
The Family Study Center (FSC) at USF St. Petersburg occupies a unique niche in Pinellas County, the state of Florida, and the nation. The FSC is the base of operations for both basic and applied research studies concerned with understanding, supporting, and advocating for families with young children emphasizing Infant Mental Health and Coparenting.
The Family Study Center’s goals are guided by an innovative and forward-thinking premise – that the first three years are critical in building a foundation for lifelong healthy development and that any child’s life chances can be improved through the intentional and successful strengthening of the relationships among the important caregiving adults (“coparents”) responsible for the child’s care, upbringing, and social-emotional development.
Guided by this premise, and by a keen understanding of the unparalleled importance of the first three years of every child’s life, the FSC has pursued creative teaching, research, and community partnership initiatives since its inception in 2003. FSC projects are focused around infant mental health and coparenting and provide new directions to enable the healthy development of children and families in Pinellas and in neighboring Florida counties; spur conversations about improving national models for family-sensitive supports; and advance science informing advocacy for better and more fully inclusive practices, policies, and laws.
The FSC’s focus on infant mental health and coparenting endeavors to give all infants the best possible start in life – an infant’s brain is not a finished product at birth. In fact, the multiplying of new “superhighways” in the baby’s brain that occurs between birth and age 3 happens at a pace that will never occur again. Eighty percent of lifetime brain development is finished by the time the child enters school. Early efforts to support healthy development and school readiness are imperative.
The heart of the FSC’s mission is to help develop a competent and informed system of professionals properly equipped to support young child and family adjustment. The FSC provides opportunities to enhance the workforce development efforts of Infant and Family Mental Health practitioners. The new Infant-Family Mental Health Certificate Program supports USF St. Petersburg’s commitment to providing training opportunities designed to enhance infant mental health, coparenting, early childhood, and family systems practice.