University of Rochester

Psychologist Honored for Outstanding Work in Public Service

August 2, 2001

JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Rochester and director of programs for Families in Transition at the Children's Institute, will be honored by the American Psychological Association with its 2001 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Service. She will receive the award Aug. 25 at the group's convention in San Francisco.

For more than 20 years, Pedro-Carroll has helped children deal with the strains of their parents' separation and divorce. "Children need a safe, supportive forum in which they can share their feelings and experiences," says Pedro-Carroll. "They need to clarify misconceptions, and learn effective skills for dealing with the challenges of changing family relationships." Many times, though, that comforting environment is missing.

While working on her doctoral dissertation at the University in the 1980s, Pedro-Carroll developed the Children of Divorce Intervention Program, then implemented and evaluated it initially in five suburban schools. She joined the faculty in 1984, and began refining the program and produced six models, which more specifically meet the needs of children of different ages and from different cultural backgrounds. The program has since served thousands of children throughout the United States and worldwide.

In recent years, Pedro-Carroll has taken her preventive strategies to the place where adults end their marriages-court. She has teamed up with Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Frazee and family therapists, social workers, judges, lawyers and mediators to create A.C.T. - For the Children, a preventive program to teach separating parents how to reduce the stress of family changes on children and themselves. "The goal of the program is to protect children from becoming unwitting casualties of a divorce war," she says. "We make the sessions proactive, preventive, and educational, because studies show that there are many ways that parents can help to put their children on pathways toward healthy adjustment."

Pedro-Carroll, who has testified on behalf of children and families at congressional briefings and at the White House, was appointed by Chief Justice Judith Kaye to the New York State Parent Education Advisory Board earlier this year. She has been a fellow of the APA since 1993, and is a past recipient of local, state, and national awards. She was recently honored by AFCC, an international association of family, court and community professionals, with the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Researcher Award for innovative research with children and families.