I’m a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Senior Research Associate at PEDAL. I currently work as Principal Investigator and Co-Chief Investigator across various projects in the Centre that aim to support children, families, and communities in the earliest years of children’s life.
My research focuses on developing and evaluating early childhood programmes to promote children’s early development and caregivers’ experiences of parenting. I am committed to bringing children’s own perspectives into our work by involving them in all stages of our research. I enjoy working with and supporting vibrant and inclusive teams, by supervising research assistants and associates, and Masters and PhD students.
Before joining PEDAL, I worked in the Centre for Mental Health at Imperial College London as Trial Manager on the Healthy Start, Happy Start study. I also worked at the Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin on the Preparing for Life evaluation as the project coordinator for the Day in a Life of Preparing for Life Parent, Children’s Thoughts about School, and Play to Learn studies.
I'm Principal Investigator of this UKRI-funded project. We're working to widen access to effective supports for families, to help babies and toddlers have the best start in life.
I'm Co-Chief Investigator on this Nuffield-funded project. We are developing a virtual programme that supports parents and young children to share books together
I'm Co-Chief Investigator of this NIHR-funded study. We're following up 300 families who took part in a parenting programme when their children were 1-2 years old.
I led the PlayBack study to adapt a play-based programme to support the child-teacher relationship.
Find out more about my work
Supporting child development through a video-led parenting programme
The Healthy Start, Happy Start study is a large-scale randomised controlled trial testing if a brief, home-based, video-feedback for families (called VIPP-SD) could help reduce children’s challenging behaviour. Read more about our findings from the study so far:
- O’Farrelly, C., Watt, H., Babalis, D., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., Byford, S., Barker, B.,Ganguli, P.,…& Ramchandani, P.G. (2021). A Brief Home-Based Parenting Intervention to Reduce Behavior Problems in Young Children: A Pragmatic Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatrics. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6834.
- O’Farrelly, C., Barker, B., Watt, H., Babalis, D., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., Byford, S., Ganguli, P.,…& Ramchandani, P.G. (2021). Healthy Start, Happy Start: A pragmatic randomised controlled trial of a brief psychological intervention (VIPP-SD) to prevent enduring behaviour problems in young children. Health Technology Assessment. doi: 10.3310/hta25290.
- Rao, Z., Barker, B., O’Farrelly, C., & Ramchandani, P. (2021). Maternal anxiety and depression and their associations with mother–child pretend play: a longitudinal observational study. BMC Psychology.
- Patel, J., Smith, R., O’Farrelly, C., Iles, J., Rosan, C., Ryan, R., & Ramchandani, P. (2021). Assessing behavior in children aged 12–24 months using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Infancy. doi: 10.1111/infa.12425.
- Mattock, H. C., Ryan, R., O’Farrelly, C., Babalis, D., & Ramchandani, P. G. (2020). Does a video clip enhance recruitment into a parenting trial? Learnings from a study within a trial. Trials. doi: 10.1186/s13063-020-04779-0.
- Ramchandani, P., O’Farrelly, C., Babalis, D., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Byford, S., Grimas, E., Iles, J., … Scott, S. (2017). Preventing enduring behavioural problems in young children through early psychological intervention (Healthy Start, Happy Start): Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. doi: 10.1186/s13063-017-2293-9.
Bringing children's voices into research and programme development
I’m committed to bringing young children’s own perspectives into places where they are rarely heard. I led the Children’s Thoughts about School Study to understand the experiences of 4- and 5-year-olds transitioning to school in an area facing socioeconomic disadvantage in Dublin, Ireland.
- (2022). It’s up to you if you want to take part. Supporting young children’s informed choice about research participation with simple visual booklets, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 30:1, 63-80.
- O’Farrelly, C. (2021). Bringing young children’s voices into programme development, randomized controlled trials and other unlikely places. Children & Society, 35(1), 34-47.
- O’Farrelly, C., Booth, A., Tatlow-Golden, M., & Barker, B. (2020). Reconstructing readiness: Young children’s priorities for their early school adjustment. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 50, 3-16.
- Barker, B., Tatlow-Golden, M., Booth, A., & O’Farrelly, C. (2019). EYFS best practice, All about…settling in to school – a child’s perspective. Nursery World, 2019(10), 25-29.
- O’Rourke, C., O’Farrelly, C., Booth, A., & Doyle, O. (2017). ‘Little bit afraid ‘til I found how it was’: children’s subjective early school experiences in a disadvantaged community in Ireland. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. doi: 10.1080/1350293X.2017.1288386.
- Tatlow-Golden, M., O’Farrelly, C., Booth, A., & Doyle, O. (2017). “Bursting” to Go and Other Experiences: Children’s Views on Using the Toilet in the First School Year. The Journal of School Nursing, 33(3), 214-222. doi: 10.1177/105984051664642
- Tatlow-Golden, M., O’Farrelly, C., Booth, A., O’Rourke, A., & Doyle, O. (2016). ‘Look, I have my ears open’: Resilience and early school experiences among children in an economically deprived suburban area in Ireland. School Psychology International, 37(2) pp. 104–120.
Developing programmes to support families in the earliest years
I’m committed to better understanding how we can widen access to early, effective support for families in the earliest years of their children’s lives. A key way to do this is to develop intervention programmes that help to support parents in bonding with their little ones, responding to their children’s behaviour, and improving parents’ own wellbeing. Read more about research I’ve worked on in this area:
- O’Farrelly, C., Doyle, O., Victory, G., & Palamaro-Munsell, E. (2018). Shared book reading in early infancy and later child development: Evidence from an early childhood intervention. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2017.12.001.
- O’Farrelly, C., Lovett, J., Guerin, S., Doyle, O., & Victory, G. (2017). Enhancing infant mental health using a capacity building model: A case study of a process evaluation of the Ready, Steady, Grow initiative. Infants and Young Children. 30, 269-287.
- Ryan, R., O’Farrelly, C., & Ramchandani, P. (2017). Parenting and child mental health. London Journal of Primary Care. doi: 10.1080/17571472.2017.1361630.
- Doyle, O., Delaney. L., O’Farrelly, C., Fitzpatrick., N., & Daly, M. (2017) Can Early Intervention Improve Maternal Well-being? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial. Plos One. 10.1371/journal.pone.0169829.
- Doyle. O., McGlanaghy, E., O’Farrelly, C., & Tremblay, R. (2016). Can targeted intervention mitigate early emotional and behavioural problems? Generating robust evidence within randomised controlled trials. Plos One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156397.
- Domoney, J., Iles, J., O’Farrelly, C., Sanger, C., Kellet., P. (2015). Bringing the relationship to life: the power of video-feedback approaches. Journal of Health Visiting. doi: 10.12968/johv.2015.3.7.368
Understanding the role of play in children's lives and learning
We are focused on better understanding the role of play in children’s lives when they are at home, in school, and in hospital. Better understanding the role of play in children’s lives can help inform how we develop supports for families and communities.
- Skene, K., O’Farrelly, C. M., Byrne, E. M., Kirby, N., Stevens, E. C., & Ramchandani, P. G. (2022). Can guidance during play enhance children’s learning and development in educational contexts? A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13730.
- Graber, K. M., Byrne, E. M., Goodacre, E. J., Kirby, N., Kulkarni, K., O’Farrelly, C., & Ramchandani, P. G. (2021). A rapid review of the impact of quarantine and restricted environments on children’s play and the role of play in children’s health. Child: Care, Health and Development. doi: 10.1111/cch.12832.
Learning more about transitions within early childhood education settings
My PhD research focused on better understanding children’s and practitioners’ experiences when transitioning within early childhood care and education settings.
- O’Farrelly, C. & Hennessy, E. (2014). Watching transitions unfold: A mixed-method study of transitions within early childhood care and education settings. Early Years, 329-347. doi: 10.1080/09575146.2014.968838
- O’Farrelly, C. & Hennessy, E. (2013). Understanding transitions within early childhood care and education settings: The perspectives of professionals. International Journal of Transitions in Childhood,