The Early Relationships Study

Optimizing Mental Health for Infants Exposed to Early Adversity: A Comparative Effectiveness and Implementation Study of the “Breaking the Cycle” Program

One in three Canadian children is exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including abuse, neglect, and family violence. During early childhood, when the foundation for lifelong mental health is established, exposure to ACEs is particularly harmful.

Breaking the Cycle (BTC) is an award-winning program that serves substance-using mothers and their young children who are at risk for exposure to ACEs. BTC is a one-of-a-kind program in Canada for substance-using mothers that specifically targets the mental health of young children and the mother-child relationship.

This team grant aims to understand whether the BTC program enhances mental health outcomes for young children, and whether it is associated with long-term cost savings. The team will also identify strategies for scaling and implementing the Breaking the Cycle program in other communities. This project will position Canada as an international leader in infant mental health and improve mental health outcomes for children exposed to ACEs.

Further reading: Early Lab

Lead organization: University of Ottawa

Location: British Columbia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island

Contact: Dr. Nicole Racine (Principal Investigator),; Ms. Margaret Leslie (Co-Lead),; Dr. Debra Pepler (Co-Lead),