A photo of Janean Dilwort-Bart

Janean Dilworth-​Bart

Associate Professor, Chair, Graduate Program Committee, PhD
4132 Nancy Nicholas Hall 1300 Linden Drive
608-262-9770

Everybody’s got a little light under the sun . . .

-Flashlight ~ Parliament

I am an Associate Professor and the chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the School of Human Ecology at the UW-Madison. I earned my BA in Psychology in 1995 from Hampton University, a Historically Black University in Hampton, Virginia. After obtaining my doctorate in Psychology with a Clinical emphasis in 2001 at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in 2001.

My scholarship revolves around how early developmental contexts help or hinder children’s development into competent, productive members of society. I address this broad issue on how parents and coparents, parenting behaviors, and the social and physical impact to self-regulation development and school readiness.

I review graduate applications for potential advisees every fall. I encourage interested students to email me directly and to learn more about SoHE graduate programs here.

A little bit about me:
Do you know that song, “Eyes on the Prize”? It’s the influential song from the Civil Rights era that’s based on a spiritual – Keep your hand on the plow. It represented a shift in thought from the promise of a joyful hereafter to overcoming the obstacles of this world. I began thinking about “the prize” when reflecting on the lives of my parents and elders. They achieved so much despite being a few short generations from slavery and, despite growing up under Jim Crow, paved the way for me to become a wife, mother-of-two, professor, and department chair at a Big Ten University. So what is “the prize”? Today, for me it’s a healthy body, healthy marriage, healthy kids, and a safe place me to engage in the “pursuit of happyness” of being who I am. In reality, though, “the prize” is a series of prizes that I received even before I was born – none of them deserved, all of them appreciated.

Where I am today reflects a series of opportunities and choices made by me, my parents, my wider family, and my various communities. Now as a professor of Human Development and Family Studies, I focus on “the prize” for children in two ways: healthy parent-child relationships and safe environmental spaces for children to live in.

There is an implicit assumption that Black mothers parent alone. The story of the “absent Black father” makes a compelling narrative, but it contradicts the reality that Black children do have regular interactions with significant father figures and kin at rates equal to or greater than children from other ethnic groups. As a result, Black fathers are invisible in discussions of the coparenting and school readiness of Black children. For the next few years I will teach, engage in research, and engage the community in “the prize” of Black coparents work together to prepare their children for school.

I am also interested in “the prize” of a safe physical environment. We’ve all heard of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan. Unfortunately, what is happening in Flint is happening in Black communities around the country right now. I am embarking on a series of studies with colleagues from the State of Wisconsin’s Health Department, the UW School of Engineering, and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health to investigate how multiple environmental pollutants and social risks like poor schools, racial discrimination, and poor health care relate to school readiness, academic achievement, and court involvement.

I’ve chosen to focus on two prizes of early childhood. There are many more. However, as we think about the prize, we can think across many levels (individual, family, community, government) and age ranges (prenatal to grave). The key is thinking of “the prize” as something bigger than any one person. At the end of the day, The Prize I seek is the prize of equity.

Curriculum Vitae

Early Childhood Development
African-American Families
Self-regulation
Environmental Health

HDFS 425: Research Methods in Human Development and Family Studies

In this undergraduate-level course we explore the basics of research design used in studying family dynamics and individual development over the life course.

HDFS 461: Social and Emotional Development of the Young Child

This undergraduate level course is to builds upon introductory Child Development courses by providing a more depth and intensive study of social and emotional development.  The class covers a range of topics beginning with a review of classical and contemporary theory and followed by discussions of the roles of intraindividual characteristics and interpersonal relationships in development.

HDFS 592: Research in Early Developmental Contexts & School Readiness

The research-focused course provides students with valuable hands-on experience working higher risk children and their families in a research setting.  Contact me directly if you are interested in this 1 to 3 credit opportunity.

HDFS 662: Advanced Study of the Young Child 

This undergraduate and graduate level course provides students with an introduction to theories and current issues related to the causes, presentation, and study of atypical emotional and/or behavioral development in childhood.  Study moves beyond introductory child development coursed to evaluate the continuum between “typical” and “atypical” development.  

HDFS 761: Childhood and the Family

This is a graduate level “topics” course.  Students examine a variety of interrelated issues impacting the development of young children within the family context.  Each week is dedicated to a different aspect of child development (e.g., Cognitive and Emotional Development) or a special population (e.g., Child Disability and Family Functioning).

Inter-HE 793: Research Methods

In this course we consider the ways in which social scientists conduct and disseminate research. Over the course of the semester we will move from discussing general issues in the philosophy of science, to examining how social science research is designed and conducted, to evaluating specific research products. At the same time, students will develop a research product that corresponds to their research field of interest and graduate training trajectory. The capstone exercise is an advanced draft of a research proposal that could be submitted to a funding agency.

Miller, K., Hilgendorf, A., & Dilworth-Bart, J. (in press). Cultural capital and the development of home-school connections in early childhood. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood.

Miller, K., & Dilworth-Bart, J. (2013). Mothers’ school-related identities and possible selves for their children. Early Child Development and Care. 10.1080/03004430.2013.792257

Dilworth-Bart, J. (2012). Does executive function mediate SES and home quality associations with academic readiness? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(3), 416-425. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2012.02.002

Poehlmann, J., Schwichtenberg, A.J., Hahn, E., Miller, K., Dilworth-Bart, J., Kaplan, D., & Maleck, S. (2012). Compliance, opposition, and behavior problems in toddlers born preterm or low birthweight. Infant Mental Health Journal, 33(1), 34-44. doi: 10.1002/imhj.20335

Dilworth-Bart, J.,Miller, K., & Hane, A. (2012). Maternal play behaviors, child negativity, and preterm or low birthweight toddlers’ visual-spatial outcomes: Testing a differential susceptibility hypothesis. Infant Behavior and Development, 35(2), 312-322. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2011.11.001

Miller, K., Dilworth-Bart, J., & Hane, A. (2011). Maternal recollections of schooling and children’s school preparation. The School Community Journal, 21(2), 161-184. http://www.families-schools.org/CJindex.htm

Dilworth-Bart, J., Poehlmann, J., Miller, K., & Hilgendorf, A. (2011). Do mothers’ play behaviors moderate the associations between socioeconomic status and 24-month neurocognitive outcomes? Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36(3), 289-300. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsq064 PMid:20656763

Dilworth-Bart, J., Poehlmann, J.,Hilgendorf, A., Miller, K., & Lambert, H. (2010). Maternal scaffolding and preterm toddlers’ visual-spatial processing and emerging working-memory. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 35(2), 209-220. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsp048 PMid:19505998

Poehlmann, J., Schwichtenberg, A., Bolt, D., & Dilworth-Bart, J. (2009). Predictors of depressive symptom trajectories in mothers of infants born preterm or low birthweight. Journal of Family Psychology, 23(5), 690-704. doi:10.1037/a0016117 PMid:19803605 PMCid:2791691

Dilworth-Bart, J., Khurshid, A., & Vandell, D. (2007). Do maternal stress and home environment mediate the relation between early income-to-need and 54-month attention? Infant and Child Development, 16, 525-552. doi:10.1002/icd.528  

Dilworth-Bart, J., & Moore, C. (2006). Mercy, Mercy Me: Social injustice and the prevention of environmental pollutant exposures among ethnic minority and poor children. Child Development, 77(2), 247-265.doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00868.x PMid:16611170  

Riggs, N., Jahromi, L., Peters-Razza, R., Dilworth-Bart, J., & Mueller, U. (2006). The role of executive function in the promotion of social-emotional and behavioral development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 27(4), 300-309. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2006.04.002  

Dilworth, J., Greenberg, M., & Kusché, C. (2004). Early neuropsychological correlates of later clock drawing and clock copying abilities. Child Neuropsychology, 10(1), 24-35. doi:10.1076/chin.10.1.24.26242 PMid:14977513  

Elias, M., & Dilworth, J. (2003). Ecological/development theory, context-based best practice, and school-based action research: Cornerstones of school psychology training and policy. Journal of School Psychology, 41(4), 292-297. doi:10.1016/S0022-4405(03)00050-5  

Dilworth, J., Mokrue, K., & Elias, M. (2002). The efficacy of a video based teamwork-building series with urban elementary school students: A pilot investigation. Journal of School Psychology, 40(4), 329-346. doi:10.1016/S0022-4405(02)00102-4