Executive Functioning Across Generations


Executive function skills are like an air traffic control system in the brain that helps us manage information, make decisions, and plan ahead. Stress and the lingering impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can negatively impact executive functioning, making it difficult to effectively navigate challenging and uncertain circumstances. Home Visiting services offers support and knowledge for families navigating complex challenges, but a gap persists in explicitly enhancing parent and child executive functioning skills.

Children’s Wisconsin is participating in a collaborative feasibility study of the “Executive Functioning Across Generations” program, funded by Frontiers of Innovations, the R & D platform of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The project goal is to further enhance child and family executive function skills,  strengthen our home visiting services,  and harvest lessons that will inform how we can scale up our efforts to support families and build their skills for navigating stressful situations.

This project will focus on a virtual adaptation of Executive Functioning Across Generations© (EF Across Generations), originally developed in 2017 by The Family Partnership in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and will be piloted in Children’s Wisconsin’s Wausau Home Visiting program. EF Across Generations is a two-generation (2Gen) coaching curriculum that aims to boost the executive function and self-regulation skills of preschool children and their caregivers. Executive functioning is a language-based skill, and this intervention uniquely focuses on the acquisition of internal state words and the development of personal narratives about emotionally significant events. The curriculum has been shown to increase executive function, use of internal state words, and complexity of personal narratives in children.

Children’s collaborated with other Children’s Home Society of America (CSHA) partner organizations and The Family Partnership to adapt EF Across Generations for use in a virtual context within a home visiting program, using the IDEAS Impact Framework. The IDEAS Impact Framework is a rigorous process for developing, evaluating, and iterating programs or intervention strategies, with the ultimate goal of achieving significantly greater impact on the life outcomes of children and families at a population level. The IDEAS Impact Framework draws on existing research and development tools, applying them in new ways to set a higher bar for program development and evaluation. The IDEAS Impact Framework is a joint initiative of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the University of Oregon Center for Translational Science, and the University of Washington College of Education.

IDEAS stands for:

  • Innovate to solve unmet challenges
  • Develop a usable program with a clear and precise theory of change
  • Evaluate the theory of change to determine what works for whom and why
  • Adapt in rapid-cycle iterations
  • Scale promising programs

ICFW’s Children’s team will provide project updates from our partners and on our progress through upcoming newsletter articles, webinars, and practice briefs.

Learn More

A Guide to Executive Function


Gabriel McGaughey


The Center on the Developing Child, Frontiers of Innovation (Massachusetts)


The Family Partnership, Minnesota

Children and Family First of Delaware, Delaware

Nebraska Children’s Home Society, Nebraska

Children’s Wisconsin, Wisconsin

Children’s Home Society of America

All Child & Family Well-Being