Welch Emotional Connection Screen (WECS)

The Nurture Science team developed the Welch Emotional Connection Screen (WECS) to provide practitioners and researchers with an efficient, evidence-based method to assess the construct of emotional connection. This is important, because the sooner a problem with emotional connection is identified, the sooner it can be addressed to help the child stay on a healthy developmental path.

The WECS is:

  • Quick - It can be completed in as little as three minutes.
  • Reliable – It produces consistent results.
  • Predictive of future outcomes – It identifies which children are likely to develop behavioral problems if no action is taken

The WECS evaluates four elements of parent-child interaction:

  • Mutual Attraction
  • Mutual Vocal communication
  • Mutual Facial expressiveness
  • Mutual Sensitivity/Reciprocity

Based on these observations, it is determined if the pair is emotionally connected.

It is important to remember that emotional connection is fluid. The stresses of daily life can disrupt emotional connection for any parent and child. Disruptions are inevitable as part of life. The purpose of the WECS is to identify families that would benefit from additional support to re-establish emotional connection.

Benefits for Parent-Facing Professionals

The WECS can help professionals who work with families to better understand behavioral problems in a new way, and provide more helpful support based on those insights. Previously, professionals may have observed a difficult parent-child relationship and blamed the parent. Once they recognize that this interaction stems from a disruption in emotional connection, and understand that connection must be mutual, they can help the parent and child re-establish the important emotional connection.

Validation of the WECS

The WECS is validated to evaluate emotional connection between mothers and their preterm infants. The vision of the Nurture Science Program is to adapt the WECS for use with the full range of young children — from newborn to age five — to be evaluated with a three-minute observation during a visit to a clinic or physician office. This is a practical screen of relational health for immediate intervention or referral. Implementing the WECS broadly in a wide variety of care settings will help families get the support they need to re-establish emotional connection when it is interrupted.