Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Metric

Welch Emotional Connection Screen (WECS)


Access: FREE/Open Access

evaluation focus

Parent-Child Interaction and Emotional Connection

applicable ages


available language(s)



The Welch Emotional Connection Screen (WECS) is a tool that can be used to measure the construct of emotional connection between caregivers and young children. It was developed by the Nurture Science team to aid providers and researchers in identifying and addressing potential problems with emotional connection.


4 Elements of Parent-Child Interaction Assessed:

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

Administration Format: 3-5 minute provider observation of parent-child interaction

Administration Time: 3-5 minutes


Reliability and Validity (Hane 2018):

    • Interrater: reliability between two independent coders was good, with kappa ranging from 0.85 – 0 (maternal items) and 0.80 – 1.0 (infant items). Connection indicator had a Kappa of 0.85.
    • Internal Consistency: average Cronbach’s alphas for mother items (0.82), infant items (0.83), and all items (0.86) was computed.
    • WECS Maternal Scores: positively associated with maternal sensitivity and quality of vocal contact at 36 weeks (caregiving) and maternal positivity at 4 months (face-to-face).
    • WECS Infant Scores: positively correlated with infant social engagement and maternal positivity during face-to-face interactions at 4 months.

Source: https://nurturescienceprogram.org/wecs/

supporting literature

Hane, A.A., et al. (2018) The Welch Emotional Connection Screen: Validation of a Brief Mother-Infant Relational Health Screen. Acta Paediatrica, 108(4),615-625.
PDF: WECS – 1 – Hane 2018
Link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apa.14483

Fagan, M.A., et al. (2019) The Practical Utility of the Welch Emotional Connection Screen for Rating Parent-Infant Relational Health. Infancy, 24(6), 835-932.
PDF: WECS – 2 – Fagan 2019
Link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apa.14483

Welch, M., O'Banion, D.D., Hane, A.A., Litsas, D., Austin, J. (2021) The Welch Emotional Connection Screen: Adapting Observational Methods to Pediatric Primary Care via Resident Training. Infant Behavior and Development, 65, 1-9.
PDF: WECS – 3 – Welch 2021
Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016363832100103X