Zelechoski assisting three young boys at their computersAmanda Zelechoski, J.D., Ph.D., ABPP, associate professor of psychology, launched Pandemic Parenting, a website hosting resources and webinars to help parents navigate the challenges of COVID-19.

The next free webinar, titled “Building Resilience: Understanding Patterns of Stress to Design Effective Doses of Meaningful Support,” will be held on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 9 p.m. Eastern. Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D, the senior fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas, and an adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, will join to discuss patterns of stress and stress activation, particularly related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Zelechoski has spent her career researching how early traumatic experiences influence children and adolescents. When the global pandemic hit, she partnered with Lindsay Malloy, Ph.D., an associate professor at Ontario Tech University, to use their respective research and expertise to provide parents with tools that will help them manage these uncertain and stressful circumstances.

“We’ll continue to evolve and develop resources that are practical, immediate, and informed by psychological science,” Zelechoski said. “The emotional fallout [of the pandemic] will be long-term. As long as the project is helpful and needed, we’ll keep doing it.”

The basis for Pandemic Parenting came from research studies that Zelechoski and Malloy completed separately in the early stages of quarantine. Zelechoski launched a survey the first day many schools around the country switched to remote learning. She received 450 responses within the first two weeks from parents of children ages 5–18.

Zelechoski continued her research to analyze the immediate, short-term impact of the global pandemic and how responses from both parents and their children changed over the course of three months.

One of the project’s founding tenets was to disseminate the research findings to parents rapidly instead of waiting for the typically slow publication process. Zelechoski aimed to translate abstract concepts into accessible, actionable steps that any parent could understand and utilize.

Zelechoski joined the Valparaiso University faculty in 2011. She holds a J.D. from Villanova University and a Ph.D. from Drexel University. Zelechoski was awarded Valpo’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 2020.

Funding for Zelechoski’s research, The Coronavirus Family Impact Project, was provided by the Valparaiso University Alumni Association Faculty Development Grant to compensate participating families. Zelechoski and Malloy donate their time to Pandemic Parenting, but gratefully accept contributions and sponsorships on the Pandemic Parenting website to sustain the project and compensate their production and support team.

Recordings of previous webinars, resources and reflection questions are available for free on the Pandemic Parenting website.