Isabel Maria Costa Soares

University of Minho. Portugal

ProChild Collaborative Laboratory: Innovative models for child protection, mental health, early education, and social participation

The ProChild Collaborative Laboratory (ProChild CoLAB) aims to develop a strategy against child poverty and social exclusion in Portugal, by bringing together academic researchers and professionals in the field. Based on this collaborative network, the ProChild CoLAB aims to develop, implement, and evaluate models to support social intervention and the (re)qualification of institutional services and professionals. This symposium addresses empirically-based models for intervention and professional training in four domains: child protection, mental health, early education, and social participation.

The 1st. talk presents an evidence-based model for family foster care, which includes 4 modules: training and selection of foster families; matching between child-foster family; ongoing support and intervention in foster care; and child transition to a permanent family. Research design and preliminary results of validation studies will be presented.

The 2nd. presention is focused on a community project aiming to promote child mental health during pandemic. Based on a multilevel approach and in community resources, it aimed to screen and assess mental health problems in children from 3-10 years, and to offer specialized psychological intervention for children presenting mental health problems. Preliminary data will be presented.

The 3rd. presentation addresses early education. Despite the Portuguese government efforts to increase the coverage rate of childcare centres for children under 3, research has shown that its global quality was low. A model targeting child development and education in childcare through professional development, currently under implementation in differentiated contexts, will be presented.

The 4th. talk presents the Learning Field of Pevidém that aims a transformation of children’s time-space with a special focus on actions designed to mobilize children, families, teachers, architects, social workers and other professionals, from a Living Lab perspective, and connecting technological development and social intervention. Territory based interventions are built, based on local needs assessments and on a multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach.



Dr. Isabel Maria Costa Soares is a Full Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Minho (Portugal). Her main topics of research are Attachment and Parenting; Developmental Psychopathology, Children and families at high-risk, and Child protection and welfare. Dr. Soares is Head of the Department of Applied Psychology and Director of the Master in Clinical Psychology in Childhood and Adolescence. Furthermore, she is coordinating the Lab of Development and Psychopathology, CIPsi, at the University of Minho and is PI of the Attachment and Parenting Research Group and the Collaborative Laboratory ProChild Against Child Poverty and Social Exclusion and, being currently the Chair of the Board of ProChild CoLAB. Dr. Isabel Soares is working as a Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist, and she is a member of the National Council of Psychologists(OPP) and the National Delegate of COST Action 18211 – Perinatal Mental Health and Birth-Related Trauma: Maximizing best practice and optimal outcomes (DEVOTION).