Grantee Spotlights

logo for Brenner-Wake-ForestHealthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program: 30 years of creating access to health care for vulnerable children, families


Reposted from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website

For over 30 years, the Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program (HTPCP) has supported innovative, community-based interventions to improve maternal and child health and access to care.

HTPCP is funded by the Division of Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau. A key feature of HTPCP is its collaboration with the AAP. Since 1989, public health resources at HRSA have joined with pediatric expertise in child health issues at the AAP. Pediatricians have provided care and served as project directors, advisory board members and consultants in HTPCP initiatives.

Recently, HTPCP created several case studies that highlight successes and lessons learned from projects with significant pediatrician involvement.

Empowering Mothers Initiative

Joan Jeung, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, realized that Mongolian refugee and Burmese immigrant patients at the Asian Health Services in Oakland, Calif., had no representatives in the health care system who spoke their languages. She received funding from HTPCP to hire community health workers who provide health education, interpretation and access to support for these families.

The project has evolved to offer group well-child care visits that include in-depth support for parents and early childhood development education. The initiative also is facilitating cultural and linguistic adaptation of the AAP Bright Futures Guidelines and the Nurturing Parent Program.

Approximately 200 children and their parents have received services. Parents have reported being better equipped to provide nurturing and responsive caregiving to their children. Both parents and community health workers note that the Empowering Mothers Initiative has led to stronger peer-support networks.

According to Dr. Jeung, group well-child visits and culturally and linguistically competent health workers make the program sustainable and scalable.

House of Teens

Adolescents participating in the House of Teens program took photos of conditions in their neighborhoods that posed barriers to physical activity and healthy eating such as stores that lacked fruits and vegetables. Then, they shared their stories with elected officials and offered potential solutions. Courtesy of House of Teens.

Adolescents participating in the House of Teens program took photos of conditions in their neighborhoods that posed barriers to physical activity and healthy eating such as stores that lacked fruits and vegetables. Then, they shared their stories with elected officials and offered potential solutions. Courtesy of House of Teens.

In 2007, the House of Teens (HOT) started as an after-school health promotion and obesity prevention program in New Britain, Conn. The program is a partnership between Community Health Center Inc. and the YWCA of New Britain.

Robert W. Dudley, M.D., M.Ed., FAAP, at the Community Health Center Inc. provides care to adolescents involved in the program.

“… Every single day, I would tell people, ‘Hey, you got to get out and exercise more,’” Dr. Dudley said. “Well, one of the girls took a picture of the stinky dumpster and said, ‘This is what’s outside my front door. We don’t go outside. We can’t exercise because it’s so smelly. It just isn’t going to happen.’”

Through HOT, adolescent girls are guided to document conditions in their neighborhoods with photos (e.g., abandoned parks, convenience stores that lack fruits and vegetables) and present them to elected officials along with recommended solutions. This method, called PhotoVoice, is a key component of community-based participatory research and was used by program staff to engage the teens.

Today, through their efforts, the program has grown exponentially in scope. In addition to being a free-standing center that provides access to a wide range of health care services, it’s also a place where teens can voice concerns, work with adult partners, present solutions and see changes happen.

HTPCP funded HOT several times since it began over a decade ago.

Washington State Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a national evidence-based early literacy program that is embedded in pediatric settings. The program promotes and models reading aloud to children at their well-child visits from 6 months to 5 years. Pediatricians stock books in their waiting rooms and often send a book home with their pediatric patients.

Jill M. Sells, M.D., FAAP, an early literacy advocate, was among local stakeholders interested in expanding ROR into school readiness efforts in Washington State. With HTPCP funding, she served as the initial program director for the state’s efforts to integrate ROR into early childhood systems and school readiness initiatives. Partners in the Washington State ROR included not only pediatrician leaders, but also early learning and education professionals, social service agencies, government and businesses.

The Washington State ROR created a quality rating and improvement system that helped providers strengthen their programs’ effectiveness. There was a 35% increase in the number of local programs that attained the highest quality rating. Parents who participated in Washington State ROR reported that they read more often to their children than nonparticipants.

Since the initial funding from HTPCP in 2009, the Washington State ROR has grown from 70 locations serving 40,000 families to 236 locations serving 130,000 families.

In its 30-year history, HTPCP has funded nearly 300 community-based programs in 48 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. The program offers pediatricians an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of and involvement with community-based interventions.

For more information, visit the HTPCP website Exit Disclaimer.


Healthy Tomorrows – East Tennessee State University - ReadNPlay in Appalachian Tennessee

Submitted by the Healthy Tomorrows Program at East Tennessee State University

The East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Department of Pediatrics is a Healthy Tomorrows grantee for their ReadNPlay in Appalachian Tennessee program. Eight primary care clinics in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia are participating in this program that aims to support families in raising healthy children. The ReadNPlay program includes engagement with community stakeholders through a community board, dissemination of clinical counseling tools and provider training, support groups for new mothers and periodic community events, and use of a coordinated social marketing campaign. Exit Disclaimer

During the past two years, the department has developed a focus on preventing childhood trauma and building resiliency among children and families in the region as part of ReadNPlay. A Project ECHO series facilitated training and case discussions around this topic and the initiatives described below. Archived ECHO presentations are available online. Exit Disclaimer

Faculty, residents, and students from ETSU are publishing their experience developing and pilot-testing a pediatric primary care screening, brief intervention, and referral protocol for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) as part of the Break the Cycle 14 Program Exit Disclaimer.

The department released a free mobile application with Stellar Studios for Apple and Android devices, the ReadNPlay Baby Book (available to download from the App Store and on Google Play). This tool was previously only available in print format. It provides parents and caregivers with tips for engaging with their baby during the first 18 months of life to promote health and resilience based on Bright Futures guidelines.

Fostering reading with young children can also help to build resilience. Funding from the First Tennessee Foundation awarded to Niswonger Children’s Hospital, the department’s major ReadNPlay partner, was used to provide supplies of children’s books worth up to $2500 to partnering pediatric primary care clinics in the region. Clinics receiving the books are applying to establish their own Reach Out and Read Programs Exit Disclaimer. This initiative directly addressed the major barrier to Reach Out and Read programs, affording an adequate supply of children’s books for distribution at well child visits, and will result in tripling the number of Reach Out and Read programs in the region. The department also developed a new annual community event focused on promoting literacy – the Pajama Party with Your Pediatrician – with a local public library.

The collection of ReadNPlay print materials shown is available in English and Spanish: The ReadNPlay My Baby Book & Healthy Active Living Tips Booklet; and a children’s book series including A Rainy Day Adventure, A Harvest Day Adventure, and A Safety Hero Adventure. The new ReadNPlay Baby Book mobile application is now available to download for free from the App Store and Google Play.

For more information, please contact Dr. Karen Schetzina.

University of Florida Pediatric Pulmonary Center (UF PPC) - Diversity and Health Equity

Submitted by the Pediatric Pulmonary Center Program at the University of Florida

The UF PPC strives to improve diversity and health equity by incorporating cultural and linguistic competence (CLC) and Family and Professional Partnerships (FPP) into all aspects of interdisciplinary recruitment, training and practice.  Approaches to alleviating health disparities on individual and population based levels are discussed in Core Curriculum, clinic, patient-care meetings and community activities. The UF PPC engages the consultation of experts in implementing the diversity recruitment plan, which includes valuing diversity and conducting self-assessment and specific recruitment strategies. Faculty and trainees are involved in programs, workgroups and presentations to improve diversity, health equity and cultural competence. The graphic below provides sample UF PPC activities related to diversity and health equity. The number key beneath the graphic explains the activities:

  1. Heat maps (geographical representations) of areas of highest asthma density, as prelude to   community needs assessment and development of program to reduce asthma disparities.
  2. Talks/presentations on cultural competence, health beliefs, diversity, health equity.
  3. Articles on project analyzing teens’ videos of their illnesses, to increase patient engagement and improve providers’ understanding of patients’ experiences.
  4. Facebook page and Summit training agenda for the UF PPC-developed Florida Family Leaders’ Network’ designed to promote family engagement in improving systems of care for CYSHCN.
  5. Community activities designed to improve health equity: PPC faculty/trainee filling backpacks with food for weekend for food insecure children; PPC-designed cookbook developed so that families can utilize food pantry items in meal preparation.
  6. PPC recruitment brochure for trainees from diverse backgrounds.
  7. Trainee project interviewing health professionals/administrators on best practices in recruitment of diverse faculty.
  8. Access to Care game developed by UF PPC and played by trainees.
  9. Cross Cultural Case Studies developed collectively by six national PPCs; published results demonstrating efficacy of these cases in improving knowledge of pediatric residents.
  10. UF PPC Semi-annual “Where I Come From” lunches: potluck meals in which each division faculty, staff or trainee brings a food that in some way represents his/her growing up years or is reflective of the culture (defined as racial, ethnic, national, family, peer, neighborhood, religious, or whatever social group had a formative influence) from which they come.

9th Annual Room to Grow: Journey to Cultural and Linguistic Competency held at Kennedy Krieger Institute

Submitted by the MCH Pipeline Program at Kennedy Krieger Institute

More than 180 staff members, faculty, trainees, students and community members attended the 9th Annual Room to Grow: Journey to Cultural and Linguistic Competency Conference on September 17, 2019.  The theme of this year’s conference was Ensuring Inclusion.  Harolyn Belcher, MD, MHS, Director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training at Kennedy Krieger Institute, Sunil  Kumar, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at The Johns Hopkins University, and Bradley Schlaggar, MD, PH.D., President and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute opened the event and emphasized the importance of striving for cultural and linguistic competence.  The morning presenters included Elizabeth Hall, MSW, Director of Interagency Affairs at the Maryland Department of Disabilities who presented on Disability, the Life Perspective, and Legislative Policy; Harolyn Belcher, MD, MHS, spoke on Ensuring Inclusion: Neurons to Neighborhoods-What Have We Learned and Kisha B. Holden, Ph.D., MSCR, Associate Director and Pouissaint-Satcher Endowed Chair in Mental Health at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine spoke on Advancing Health Equity in Diverse Communities: Mental Health and Health Policy Considerations.

In the afternoon, attendees participated in an interactive workshop conducted by AZA Stephen Allsop, MD, Ph.D, a researcher and resident in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University and Bruce Birren, Ph.D., Institute Scientist and Director at Broad Institute Genomic Center for Infectious Diseases.  The workshop, entitled, “Bias: How the Brain Takes Short Cuts,” highlighted the neural processes involved in implicit bias and the presenters shared constructive ways to address implicit bias and microaggressions. The conference concluded with Harolyn Belcher, MD, MHS challenging conference attendees to commit to engaging in activities that support well-being, diversity, inclusion, and cultural and linguistic competency in their daily work.

Kennedy Krieger Institute Prepares Undergraduate Scholars to Promote Health Equity

Submitted by the MCH Pipeline Program at Kennedy Krieger Institute

Kennedy Krieger Institute hosted ten HRSA-funded Maternal Child Health Leadership, Education, Advocacy  Research Network (MCH- LEARN) scholars this summer. MCH-LEARN is co-directed by Harolyn M.E. Belcher, MD, MHS, Director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Nikeea Copeland Linder, PhD, Associate Research Professor at University of Maryland, College Park. The scholars were paired with prominent researchers and public health professionals for ten weeks and engaged in intensive training in public health research methods taught by Dr. Linder, and maternal and child health, health disparities, and the social determinants of health led by Dr. Belcher and Yvonne Bronner, ScD, Professor in the Department of Public Health in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University. In addition to conducting original research, the trainees engaged in professional development seminars, skill building workshops, and mentorship. The scholars showcased their summer projects during the Johns Hopkins Career, Academic, and Research Experiences for Students (C.A.R.E.S.) conference and joined other Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership trainees for the Centers for Disease Control Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program and Dr. James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Graduate Fellowship Student Showcase and Expo in Atlanta, GA July 29-30, 2019.

The MCH-LEARN program continues through the academic year. All ten scholars were selected to present their research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Anaheim, California in November. The purpose of the MCH-LEARN program is to promote diversity in the Maternal and Child Health workforce and to foster a commitment to advancing health equity among future public health leaders.


MCH-LEARN scholars Macie Pile and Briana Nemieboka present at the Johns Hopkins C.A.R.E.S. conference.


Healthy Tomorrows - Maimonides Children’s Hospital - Building Resilience in Children, Families, Infants and Toddlers (BRIC-FIT) Program expands Social Determinants of Health Screening and Referrals while Partnering with Community Based Organizations

Submitted by the Healthy Tomorrows Program at Maimonides Children’s Hospital

This past spring the first semi-annual community advisory board meeting at Maimonides Children’s Hospital helped propel a department-wide initiative to screen for and address social determinants of health (SDH). Together the BRIC-FIT program, comprised of 10 community based organizations and representatives from the hospital and outpatient clinics, created a unique Electronic Health Record based universal screening and referral process. Prior to initiating screenings, BRIC-FIT leadership trained pediatric residents, attending physicians, nurses and clerical staff on the basic tenants of SDH, and how to communicate with patients about SDH. In the first 4 months, clinic staff screened over 2000 patients for unmet psychosocial needs that may be affecting their health. Pediatric physicians then addressed these screens during visits with their patients and made appropriate referrals to community-based organizations.

Preliminary data shows that of the patients screened:

  • 70% had at least one unmet need,
  • >40% were not able to read and write in English,
  • 20% were food insecure,
  • 20% had a legal need, and
  • 15% had housing concerns.

We gathered patient input through follow up phone calls made by medical students to inquire about how to improve the referral process. In the coming months, the hospital is expanding our SDH screening to the subspecialty practices and inpatient settings.

Boston Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Uses PHQ-9 for Depression Screening for New Medicaid Accountable Care Organization

The Boston LEAH initiated PHQ-9 Screening for depression as part of the Medicaid Accountable Care Organization redesign to enhance integration of medical and mental health care. The program has been tracking the screening rates for several years. A coordinating quality improvement (QI) team was developed and staffed by medical health providers, mental health providers, and population managers. The QI team met monthly to evaluate progress, track results on a control chart, consider interventions, and set targets. Multiple PDSA cycles have been executed, including enhanced provider and trainee education and feedback, standardization of form collection, and data entry. The form color was altered, which increased rate of screening by bringing the form to providers’ attention.

A clinical process map led to improvements in the clinic flow. Patients received a paper copy of the PHQ-9, a validated screening instrument for depressive symptoms, at annual physical exams and as needed. For those with a positive response (score >15 or positive response to question 9 about thoughts of injuring oneself or not worth living), the mental health team, including social workers, psychologists and a resource specialist, could be activated for same-day on-the-spot consultation for those with a positive response. Follow-up efforts were coordinated by a population manager who brought concerning scores to a behavioral health specialist to coordinate interim calls and follow-up care for at-risk patients.

This year, with increased attention to data entry into the Medical Health Record and initiation of a colorful form for providers to hand in with a billing pass, the program was able to exceed the goal of 90% screening. The monthly average screening rate was 91.4% for the 2018-2019 training year indicating a “special cause” (significant change) on the control chart with shift of the mean score. Of the patients who screened positive, 82% were seen same day, had a mental health team in place, or declined assistance. Follow up occurred within 90 days for 73%. By implementing numerous PDSA cycles, the QI team has achieved identification of patients with depressive symptoms, and improved follow-up in a busy adolescent/young adult practice. The QI team's next steps will focus on refinement of the follow-up process and increasing comprehensive mental health services to their patients.

University of Alabama at Birmingham – Experiencing the Road to Recovery at the 2019 National LEAH Meeting

An interdisciplinary group of faculty, trainees, and HRSA/MCHB staff participated in the Opioid Simulation created by SimUAB®, on March 15, 2019, at the LEAH national meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. Thistabletop simulation was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Office of Interprofessional Simulation for Innovative Clinical Practice through the LEAH Training Program with support from HRSA/MCHB.

There are three roles in this simulation - participants navigating life with addiction, healthcare providers responsible for making choices about resources in a resource-limited environment, and clinicians providing care for people in active addiction and in recovery.  The goals of the simulation are to:

  1. view opioid use disorder as a chronic relapsing disease for which there is treatment and recovery,
  2. understand the role of stigma in opioid use disorder, and
  3. understand the impact resiliency has on opioid use disorder. 

An opioid simulation tabletop kit was provided to each of the LEAH teams for continued trainings at their home institutions.

More information is available on the UAB website. Exit Disclaimer

University of Minnesota LEAH and Center of Excellence – Clinical Care Available to Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorders in Minnesota

This report by MCH faculty member Dr. Rebecca Shlafer, MCH Program alumna Virginia Pendleton (MPH 2019), and colleagues provides a summary of results from a statewide survey of correctional health care workers about their facilities’ treatment protocols and the challenges in providing care to pregnant women with opioid use disorder.

Key findings include:

  1. correctional health care providers in county jails are facing considerable challenges in meeting the needs of pregnant women with opioid use disorder; and
  2. there are numerous barriers to providing reproductive health care and substance use disorder treatment to justice-involved women who are pregnant.

University of Minnesota Center of Excellence and Leadership, Education, and Training Program in Child Nutrition – Qualitative Mini-Lab

The goal of the LET Exit DisclaimerMCH Exit Disclaimer Bright Spots Qualitative Research Methods Mini-Lab is to support the growing interest in qualitative research among public health researchers and public health practitioners. We integrate the rich tradition of qualitative inquiry into current public health research so participants can gain a deeper understanding of the public health needs facing communities, integrate the experiences and perspectives of key stakeholders and community members into research designs, and find solutions to public health problems that take into account the lived experiences of community members.

The Qualitative Research Methods Mini-Lab offers participants the space to build or augment the qualitative research skills they’ve learned in classrooms or while at work in their agencies. Together with trainers, MCH and nutrition students, faculty, and other MCH and nutrition colleagues, participants gather regularly for training sessions labs that provide them with an opportunity to consult with experts on activities that strengthen their skills.

When students, agency staff and faculty utilize the same approach to research methods and the same software for data analysis and management—and when those data are shared—we can collectively work toward improving the health of our most vulnerable populations.

In 2018, Drs. Jamie Stang and Zobeida Bonilla devoted part of their efforts developing agency-university partnerships and building the mini-lab’s infrastructure.

In 2019, the cohort met with a particular focus on reducing the prevalence of child obesity among vulnerable, diverse populations in Minnesota through the use of a “positive devianceExit Disclaimer approach to child obesity prevention, and to share successful strategies with other states and communities.

Trainings included:

  • NVivo and atlas.ti training, mixed methods research design
  • Case studies, participant observations, interviews, qualitative data analysis techniques
  • Conducting focus group interviews
  • Coding procedures
  • Data representation

To date, 70+ student and agency participants have attended mini-lab trainings, with more planned next year.


Healthy Tomorrows Adolescent Health Initiative – Building the Capacity for Adolescent-Centered Health Care

Adolescent patients access primary care services at lower rates than any other age group despite increased risk for morbidity and mortality due to high-risk behaviors such as substance use, sexual activity, interpersonal violence, and suicide. While these high-risk behaviors are common among adolescents, less than 20% receive recommended screening and counseling on them from their healthcare providers. To address this problem, the Adolescent Health Initiative (AHI) Exit Disclaimer is embarking on a new initiative: “Building the Capacity for Adolescent-Centered Health Care in Rural and Underserved Communities in HHS Region V”.

The purpose of this project is to:

  1. Build the capacity of pediatric practices in rural and underserved communities in HHS Region V (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) to provide youth-friendly health care for adolescents through engagement in the evidence-based Adolescent-Centered Environment Assessment Process (ACE-AP) Exit Disclaimer and,
  2. Equip each HHS Region V state with the ability to continue to build the capacity of youth-serving primary care centers beyond the duration of the project by training coaches to facilitate the ACE-AP. 

By training individuals at the state level to deliver the ACE-AP, each state will continue to disseminate the low-cost model throughout high-need communities and increase the number of youth who have access to needed services.


Healthy Tomorrows - Innovations and Community Impact Data Placemat

The Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program (HTPCP) is a public-private partnership between the MCHB and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Beginning in 2015, HTPCP asked prior grantees in its one-year follow-up survey about innovations used in their projects. Innovations were described by respondents as new service delivery models or practices, patient education materials or strategies, new tools, professional training, or new partnerships and collaborations. About one-quarter of prior grantees reported innovations involving the use of technology.

The program supports innovative community-based interventions in maternal and child health that improve access to care.


Healthy Tomorrows - Innovations and Community
Impact Data Placemat (PDF 282KB)

University of Minnesota Center of Excellence – Minnesota Women’s Health Report Card

There are many local and national data sources that can be accessed to learn about the status of women’s health in Minnesota. However, there is no source that provides Minnesotans with a comprehensive review of the specific indicators of and barriers to women’s health. In order to paint a broad picture of how Minnesota’s women are faring, we have worked with the Minnesota Department of Health to comb through the data and compile the Minnesota Women’s Health Report Card (MN-WHRC), which provides citizens, public health professionals, policymakers and others with a short, visual synopsis that highlights key areas of women’s health.

Infographic: Minnesota Women’s Health Report Card (PDF 300KB)
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University at Albany School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health Program - Tackling Maternal Mortality

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 25, 2019) - The number of women who die during childbirth is on the rise across the country, and a School of Public Health Exit Disclaimer (SPH) team has joined the many forces working to help change that course in New York.

The SPH-based MCH Program, led by Christine Bozlak and Rachel de Long, was awarded $150,000 from the New York State Legislature this past year to fund research and statewide education on maternal mortality.

According to the Pew Research Center, the United States has been a notable outlier in the steady decline of maternal mortality seen in other parts of the world. While the rate of death related to pregnancy has declined in Canada, the United Kingdom and other developed nations, the rate has increased in the United States, giving it the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world. In New York, approximately 19 out of every 100,000 women died from complications related to childbirth from 2012-2016 according to the New York State Department of Health Exit Disclaimer (DOH). Moreover, maternal death rates are disproportionately high among black women both in New York and nationally, noted de Long and Bozlak.

“There’s a real health disparity component at play here – black women in New York are three to four times more likely to die from causes related to pregnancy compared to white women,” said Bozlak, an associate professor.

Both health care and public health communities have mobilized to respond to these alarming trends, with efforts spanning public health agencies, professional medical organizations, community-based organizations, researchers and others, Bozlak and de Long note. In 2018, Governor Cuomo created the Taskforce on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes as part of a multi-pronged effort to reduce maternal mortality and racial disparities and has committed $8M over two years in the 2019-2020 Executive Budget to fund these important initiatives. Additionally, the state senate has addressed maternal health as part of a larger legislative Women’s Health Initiative, including the $150,000 award to the MCH program at SPH to help explore and address the issue.

Sonogram picture
In New York, approximately 19 out of every 100,000 women died from complications related to childbirth from 2012-2016. Faculty from the School of Public Health are part of the movement working to decrease that number in the future.

Bozlak and de Long, a clinical associate professor, partnered with the SPH-based Center for Public Health Continuing Education Exit Disclaimer and the DOH’s Division of Family Health to produce a special edition of Public Health Live! Exit Disclaimer that was webcast to almost 1,000 health professionals and other participants. The webcast focused on the importance of engaging women and families from affected communities in order to develop initiatives, community approaches and changes to clinical systems that are responsive to their concerns – including concerns about bias and racism. It featured participants from recent community listening sessions held with women across New York as part of the Governor’s Task Force.

“A key component of this Public Health Live! was listening to community members about their experiences and ideas,” said de Long. “The more health care and public health professionals are aware of the concerns being voiced by women of color, and the more we all learn about efforts to be responsive to those concerns, the better we can address this devastating problem in New York and nationally.”

The project team also used the funding to support SPH faculty research on maternal health, and to enhance an array of prevention activities already underway in New York to promote women’s health and reduce maternal mortality. In the spring semester, six graduate students worked directly with DOH to gather and analyze data on maternal deaths, implement collaborative projects to improve the quality of care in birthing hospitals and support community-based public health prevention initiatives serving low-income women and infants.

Moving forward, the MCH Program will continue to partner with DOH and other key stakeholders to support women’s health while also contributing to the development of the next generation of public health professionals.

“This emerging generation of the MCH workforce is critical to addressing these pressing MCH issues, such as maternal mortality, and the University at Albany is poised to be a leader in their professional development,” said Bozlak.

Reposted from the New York State University at Albany's News Center Exit Disclaimer

Celebrating 30 Years of the Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program

The Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program (HTPCP) is celebrating a milestone this year – 30 years as a federal grant program! For the past 30 years, HTPCP has provided approximately 74 million dollars to 296 projects in 48 states, and Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam. As HRSA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) enter into a third decade of working toward improving child health, they are developing a series of case studies and activities to demonstrate program successes. The HTPCP also wants to hear from you about what makes Healthy Tomorrows special.

Help us celebrate this wonderful program as we look back on 30 years and plan for the decades to come!

Stay tuned for more information on celebratory activities and a contest!

Using Data to Drive Disability Workforce Training: The LEND Program Quality Improvement (LPQI) Network

Historically, each of the 52 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs used idiosyncratic measures to track the effectiveness of training in family-professional partnerships and interdisciplinary/interprofessional team building. Such before-after training data provided a limited view of training quality and impact.  Over the last five years, a cadre of leaders have worked together to form the LEND Program Quality Improvement (LPQI) Network, with the goals of devising common measurement tools, creating a national database, and using benchmarks to drive improvements in workforce training.

Participating LEND programs measure trainee competency in these areas using two validated tools: the LEND Core Competency Measure (CCM) is based on trainee self-evaluation, and the Interdisciplinary/Family-Centered Observation Rubric (I-FOR) relies on faculty observation.  Programs use a proprietary web-based dashboard to enter trainee and faculty data collection at T1 (beginning of the training year), T2 (approximately one-third of the way through the training year) and T3 (end of the training year).  A visualization tool embedded in the dashboard allows programs to see their trainees’ change from baseline to year end, filter data by variable (e.g. trainee discipline) and compare their results to a “national average” benchmark.  Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) staff manage the dashboard, implement additional features based on user feedback, host monthly technical assistance calls, coordinate the development of shared resources, orient/onboard new programs, and support the production of research manuscripts.

A 2016-2017 pilot at 7 sites (23 are currently participating) found aggregate CCM and I-FOR scores increased across both competencies from baseline to year end.  Programs unanimously report that the data has led to rich conversations among faculty about leadership skills across disciplines and informed curricular decisions.  And as one program shared: “The process also helped us go a step further and ask how we know that all of our experiences (clinical and non-clinical) are truly family-centered and interprofessional.”

This effort has led to an increased emphasis on observable behaviors in determining trainee knowledge and skills, and a decreased reliance on self-assessment measures to drive important curricular decisions. The development and implementation of the I-FOR across sites has also initiated a national dialogue on what constitutes foundational- and advanced-level “competency” and reasonable expectations for all trainees upon program completion.

The LPQI Network will continue to recruit additional LEND programs to participate, aiming to increase data richness and the degree to which the “national average” benchmark is representative of the entire network.  A subgroup of faculty is beginning to revise the I-FOR to align with language/concepts from the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Competencies, Version 4.0 and add a new component that assesses knowledge and skills in policy and working with communities and systems (“leadership”).  The LPQI Network hopes to simultaneously connect with leaders from other DMCHWD grantee programs to determine if/how they could use the CCM and I-FOR to advance their training objectives.

For more information about LPQI please contact Ben Kaufman at AUCD (

Fabric not Fringe: Weaving Family Involvement throughout Training and Practice

A Whitepaper from AUCD's Family Discipline Workgroup Exit Disclaimer

This white paper approaches family involvement from the perspective of the family discipline itself, and the ongoing paradigm shift in family-centered care--from fringe to fabric. This document includes a summary of the history of family involvement in the LEND network and a series of eight individual handouts, which detail the definition, need, benefits, resources and strategies associated with each type of family involvement.

Children's Healthy Weight Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network – Highlight on Breastfeeding Team in Louisiana

The Children's Healthy Weight Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CHW-CoIIN) Exit Disclaimer includes Louisiana as a state team focused on breastfeeding. Team lead Marci Brewer shared the following about Louisiana’s project.

Louisiana’s project focuses on building the capacity of and expanding the Louisiana Workplace Breastfeeding Support Program Exit Disclaimer to create worksite cultures statewide that support employees who choose to breastfeed after returning to work through organizational policy and practice change. Over the last year and half of the Children’s Healthy Weight CoIIN project, the Louisiana team has had a number of successes, as well as a few barriers.

Successes for the Louisiana (LA) team include the following:

  • Convening a diverse statewide improvement work group and conducting a kick off meeting in July 2018.  The work group consists of a variety of employers, employees' representatives, public health program representatives/state health department, professional groups, as well as community/mother representatives.
  • After the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee Children’s Healthy Weight CoIIN Breastfeeding Teams Peer Sharing meeting, the LA team successfully established contact with a local Community Outreach and Resource Planning Specialist.  The contact has agreed to attend our work group meetings!  
  • Partnership development with organizations like the LA Association of Occupational Nurses. Organizational contacts have assisted with disseminating information about the program at organizational board meetings and conference exhibiting.  
  • The Louisiana core team consistently conducted meetings and refined their work plan.  
  • Assessed and streamlined employer designation processes.
  • Learning and sharing with other states has been very helpful!

The Louisiana team also encountered the following barriers during their first year:

  • Engaging mothers in the statewide improvement work group has been challenging, but we aren’t giving up. The team will continue to identify different strategies to ensure mother/employee representation and engagement.  
  • Team capacity to carry out a comprehensive work plan has been limited, however we have identified some funding to sustain this work into the next state fiscal year.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health (Reaching Practicing MCH Professionals Program) – Overview of Mental Wellness

The following highlight was shared by the MCH Training Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, funded through the Reaching Practicing MCH Professionals in Underserved Areas Through Education and Training Program.

To acknowledge the growing importance of interdisciplinary and interprofessional training and practice in public health, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training Program would like to highlight our recent contributions at the University of Texas at Austin Center for Health Interprofessional Practice and Education (IPE) Showcase. Team members Mollie Ewing, RN, MPH-C, and Stephanie Reynolds, MPH-C were selected to present a poster on the Overview of Mental Wellness training course.

The Overview of Mental Wellness course was co-developed with AVANCE-San Antonio (AVANCE-SA) and has reached upwards of 600 public health professionals and trainees since its launch. AVANCE is a nonprofit organization that offers parenting skills, workforce preparation, early childhood education, health screenings, and home visits for low-income and hard-to-reach families.

The MCH Training Program’s partnership with AVANCE-SA was established in July 2017 when our team performed a needs assessment of their leadership and staff. Based on AVANCE’s training needs and topics of interest identified, we co-created the multi-modal Overview of Mental Wellness course. AVANCE-SA staff members who participated in the needs assessment represented various professional backgrounds and academic disciplines, such as business administration, management, leadership development, psychology, and the natural sciences. The interprofessional and interdisciplinary nature of their staff helps to form lasting, meaningful partnerships with organizations such as our own, and successfully serve their clientele.

Figure 1. Stephanie Reynolds, MPH-C (left) and Mollie Ewing, RN, MPH-C (right) presenting at the University of Texas at Austin Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education Showcase on May 3, 2019.

Since August 2018, the MCH Training Program has disseminated the training course to a multi-disciplinary audience of trainees, and created pre- and post-evaluation surveys to measure trainees’ change in knowledge, skills, and intentions related to mental wellness. The surveys also include data on demographics of trainees and their clientele, as well as general course feedback. Our interprofessional collaboration with AVANCE-SA remains strong and optimistic. We have plans to design a mental wellness training specifically for parental clientele, in hopes of reducing stigma and empowering parents to practice mental wellness strategies with their family members.

In continuation of our interprofessional efforts, the MCH Training Program seeks to form newfound partnerships with different academic institutions and community organizations, while strengthening existing partnerships. As shown by our training needs assessments and interdiscliplinary background of our trainees, the MCH Training Program strongly values interprofessionalism. We believe it is crucial that all professions and disciplines are fully engaged, rather than merely being represented in the group. This ensures that all individuals and organizations are involved in the decision-making process.

With the ever-increasing application of interprofessionalism in the public health field, we strive to increase teamwork and collaborative efforts across sectors in order to enhance the quality and delivery of healthcare. Ultimately, our team aims to collaborate with partnering organizations to achieve our mission: to strengthen the capacity of public health professionals serving MCH populations in underserved and rural areas within HRSA Region VI (TX, NM, OK, AR, and LA) and Michigan.

Figure 2. Icon for the Overview of Mental Wellness training course, which was presented at the Center for Health IPE Showcase.

To provide some background on the MCH Training Program, we are housed within the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Health Living at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health and partner with Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Alongside our partners, we co-develop online and in-person trainings covering a wide array of topics, such as preconception health, early childhood nutrition, community leadership, and cultural competence. Offered at no-cost, the MCH Training Program provides a great opportunity for trainees to enhance their skills and knowledge surrounding maternal and child health and professional development. Through our collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, we have more than 1,150 course completions. You can find our online courses available at Exit Disclaimer.

With that, we would like to thank HRSA for their continued support and funding. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the MCH Training Program, feel free to contact the Program Manager, Cristell Perez, MPH at or (512) 482-6150. To learn more about the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, contact us Exit Disclaimer online.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health (Reaching Practicing MCH Professionals Program) – Enabling the Rise of the CHW

The following highlight was shared by Mollie Ewing, RN, of the MCH Training Program at the UTHealth School of Public Health, funded through the Reaching Practicing MCH Professionals in Underserved Areas Through Education and Training Program.

The Maternal and Child Health Training Program team at UTHealth is working to integrate community health workers into the spectrum of maternal and child health care.

To understand why the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training Program  Exit Disclaimer team at the UTHealth has focused so much of its energy in recent years on training community health workers (CHWs), it’s important to understand two things. One is that preventable chronic diseases are now a far greater burden on the public’s health than infectious diseases, which were once the heaviest health burden on our population.  The other is that lifestyle behaviors that take place outside the walls of the health care system, such as diet and physical activity, are now widely acknowledged as key to preventing and treating chronic diseases. 

The MCH Training Program, which provides both online and in-person training for maternal and child health professionals, didn’t begin its operations with the expectation that CHWs would be such a dominant focus of their work. But they began conducting needs assessments with partnering organizations, and quickly discovered that CHWs accounted for the vast majority of trainees enrolling in their courses. CHWs, who help individuals to navigate services and stay on track with prevention and treatment, have been rapidly emerging as a key health care workforce to supplement what’s happening inside the clinical environments. According to the 2017 Annual Report of the Promotor(a) or CHW Training and Certification Advisory Committee Exit Disclaimer, there has been a 92 percent increase of certified CHWs in Texas since 2012. 

Dr. Courtney Byrd-Williams and Dr. Joan Borst, co-directors of the MCH Training Program, recognized the CHWs’ interest in their courses as an opportunity to improve maternal and child health at the community level.  Texas is one of the few states in the country that offers CHW certification, and it requires, as it does with other health care professions, that licensed workers earn continuing education units (CEUs) to renew their licenses. A  collaborative relationship with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)  Exit Disclaimer enables the MCH Training Program to offer CEUs to CHWs who successfully complete courses.

Certified CHWs can earn CEUs by completing online courses, developed by the MCH Training Program, on topics like preconception health, mental health, professional leadership, community engagement, and cultural competence.

“We make the trainings available online Exit Disclaimer so they are easily accessible to CHWs across the state, especially CHWs who may be working with populations in rural or hard-to-reach communities, “ said Byrd-Williams, Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin.

The courses are multimodal and interactive, and they’re developed in consultation with groups like the Dallas-Fort Worth Community Health Workers Association (DFW-CHW).

One of the most popular courses, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Exit Disclaimer (GDM), provides information that equips trainees to help their clients understand the risk factors and warning signs of GDM and, if needed, guide clients to the appropriate services.  Promoting healthy diet, exercise, and weight for their fellow community members is emphasized in the GDM course and in another popular course, Addressing Infant Mortality: Preconception Health Exit Disclaimer.  This course highlights the importance of a healthy lifestyle before, during, and after pregnancy, along with information on guidelines to follow during pregnancy. The Addressing Infant Mortality course also teaches trainees how to develop a life plan with their clients. This is a tool that can be used to help guide people through considering their health and lifestyle goals, then setting realistic steps to achieve them.

“Community health workers are unique in that they tend to have an unusually close understanding of the community they serve,” said Ashley Rodriguez, Vice-President of the DFW-CHW Association. “The vital trusting relationships CHWs build, by meeting people where they are, enables the workers to serve as a truly functional link between public health and social services. Navigating and facilitating access to needed services is their overall goal and function, but their ability to reach underserved, underrepresented, and under-educated populations is at the center of everything they do and is a core public health principle.”

CHWs can also attend in-person trainings developed by the MCH Training Program. Martha Maldonado, DFW-CHW Association board member and Certified CHW Instructor, has presented several of these courses at DFW-CHW Association meetings over the past year.  Between 20 and 50 local CHWs typically receive training at these quarterly meetings. The MCH Training Program recently gathered participant data when Maldonado presented the Overview of Mental Wellness Exit Disclaimer course. The CHWs in attendance completed a pre- and post-test to evaluate knowledge acquisition, behavioral intention and self-efficacy to apply the information and attitudes towards the course content.  Significant increases were found in all four of the constructs measured. 

“The trainings allow us to better serve CHWs by providing quality continuing education,” said Rodriguez. “They also help us as an organization, by drawing more members to our quarterly meetings, and attracting new members throughout the metroplex.”

In order to keep up with the pace of this quickly growing profession, the MCH Training Program is continuing to gather data and feedback from trainees to better understand who is taking advantage of these training opportunities and what information will empower CHWs to make a meaningful impact in their community.

“We are excited to have found this opportunity to help train the public health workforce and look forward to continuing our collaboration with the DFW-CHW Association, DSHS, and CHWs across the state,” said Byrd-Williams.

More information about the Maternal and Child Health Training Program Exit Disclaimer, our online courses, and the certificate and fellowship programs is available online.  The MCH Training Program is funded by a Health Resources and Services Administration grant and housed at the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living Exit Disclaimer at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin, Texas Exit Disclaimer.

More information about the DFW-CHW Association is available online at Exit Disclaimer.

Arizona LEND Leadership and Culture Workshop

In the past, ArizonaLEND has hosted a 90-minute Lunch-and-Learn focused on Leadership and Culture. However, it quickly became apparent that an entire day was needed to address this important topic, so a Saturday workshop was developed.

Cristina Castaneda and Darold Joseph, ArizonaLEND faculty members, led the workshop and shared personal stories and examples from their Hispanic and Native American cultures. They discussed the importance of cultural awareness, responsiveness and interpretation, and addressed critical perspectives about intersections of disability, race and culture. Faculty and trainees also had the opportunity to share their own cultural experiences. This workshop had an interprofessional approach as 17 professional fields were represented and participants discussed ways in which they could apply these concepts when interacting with patients, families and other professionals within their discipline.

Due to the vulnerability, openness, and respect of each participant and the presenters, this workshop was a great success. One trainee stated, “I feel like I can listen and speak from a more informed place.” The day started and ended with Darold playing a traditional Native American flute, giving everyone an opportunity to reflect on what they learned.

Workshop participants, including representatives from 17 professional fields.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-MadisonWisconsin Hosts 2019 State Public Health Autism Resource Center (SPHARC) Peer-to-Peer Exchange

The annual sponsored meeting of MCHB-funded state systems initiatives to improve autism services called the “Peer-to-Peer” Exchange will take place in Madison, Wisconsin on April 16-17, 2019. The four states (WI, DE, RI, WA) currently funded through Innovation in Care Integration for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities Program grants will be joined by several states who had been funded previously. The State Public Health Autism Resource Center Exit Disclaimer (SPHARC) coordinates the meeting, and the host state provides a forum and local/regional expertise. 

This year’s Peer-to-Peer Exchange will focus on using data and quality improvement to advance health equity, which is a major strategy of the Wisconsin Care Integration Initiative (WiCII) grant funded 2016-2019 to the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Wisconsin Care Integration Initiative is co-led by Waisman Center researcher Maureen Durkin (PI), Gail Chodron (co-PI, WI Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Training Director) and Anne Harris (co-PI, WI LEND Director), and team members Kari Mueller (Project Coordinator) and Lynn Hrabik (Project Evaluator). WiCII has focused on reaching medically underserved families of children with, or at risk for, autism and other developmental disabilities who have not been able to access services. For some individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families, inequities based on race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and location of residence make it exceedingly difficult to reach their full potential for health and life in the community. Quality improvement (QI) and data-driven approaches provide strategies and information to target modifiable aspects of providing access and care delivery to advance health equity. Meaningful engagement with individuals most affected by inequity helps ensure that change efforts are locally valued, effective, and sustainable. A significant focus of the work in Wisconsin has been funding community partners to offer family navigation, ensure accessible shared resources, and cultivate opportunities to use telehealth to improve access to services. WI LEND trainees have participated in community-based activities such as community conversations and parent focus groups in urban Milwaukee and rural locations (Northwoods and southwest WI), data collection and analysis, literature reviews and information dissemination for WiCII. Significant progress has been made in identifying barriers and enablers for access to services in underserved populations in Wisconsin.

The Peer-to-Peer Exchange in 2019 aims to increase knowledge and skills of state teams to use data and QI to advance health equity through a variety of learning activities. Participants will have opportunities to engage with peers, individuals impacted by inequity, providers, and policy experts. The following strategies for advancing health equity will be threaded throughout all of the activities: 1) using data to identify disparities, 2) engaging in local data collection and tests of change to monitor progress, and 3) partnering with community members to ensure sustainable change.

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) LEND 2019 Update for Autism Awareness Month

6th Annual Autism Friendly Game BaronsThe UAB LEND incorporates autism awareness throughout their daily work in clinical settings, training, and community outreach. Recent highlights include co-sponsoring the 18th Annual Alabama Autism Conference in February, which focused on “Building Communication in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by Strengthening Skills and Systems,” with nearly 500 participants attending the day-long event, including educators, clinicians, trainees, caregivers, and self-advocates. Community awareness activities include supporting the Autism Society of Alabama and collaborations with other local and state organizations during the month of April and year-round, including co-sponsoring and participating in the 6th Annual Autism-Friendly Birmingham Barons baseball game on April 14th. Several LEND faculty participate in the state Autism Council and associated workgroups, with contributions to revisions of the statewide strategic plan and providing technical assistance to state departments as Alabama works to improve the systems of care for individuals with ASD and their families. Finally, the UAB Regional Autism Network, a component of the UAB LEND and UCEDD, which is funded by the Alabama Department of Mental Health, continues to expand its impact in providing monthly community education workshops for caregivers of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, with 2019 topics including addressing challenging behaviors, navigating the school system, and toilet training.   

Reaching Practicing MCH Professionals - MCH Training Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

In recognition of National Nutrition Month, we would like to highlight work from our Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training Program and the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living (Center for Healthy Living) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin. The MCH Training Program is housed within the Center for Healthy Living, whose vision of “healthy children in a healthy world” aligns strongly with our purpose.

With the goal of addressing disparities in access to MCH-related training, and in collaboration with Grand Valley State University in Michigan, our team provides accessible and relevant education for the growing MCH workforce in HRSA Region VI (TX, NM, OK, AR, and LA) and Michigan. Specifically, we develop online and in-person training courses for professionals who are serving diverse MCH populations, often in geographically-isolated and rural areas. These courses engage learners with dynamic content, active learning, and real-life scenarios to develop and enhance skills. Through our collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, we have more than 1,000 course completions.

The MCH Training Program has 14 online courses available on the MCH Training Program website. Exit Disclaimer All courses are provided at no cost and can also be offered in-person. During National Nutrition Month, we would like to spotlight our Nutrition and Exercise for Mental Wellness Exit Disclaimer and Nutrition: 6 Months to 2 Years Exit Disclaimer courses. These trainings are great for those who are interested in gaining newfound skills and knowledge in the realms of nutrition and mental wellness.

Additionally, the Center for Healthy Living has various nutrition resources online, such as the Food at School Parties Exit Disclaimer infographic for parents describing healthier, nutritious alternatives to party snacks. In March 2019, we will release Texas Child Health Status Reports Exit Disclaimer covering topics such as Child Nutrition, Child Beverage Consumption, Child Obesity, and more.

MCH Timeline website

The reports will provide an overview on the status of child and adolescent health across Texas. Available to community members, policymakers, and advocacy groups, these one-page reports identify priority areas and assess health needs at a regional level in an attempt to guide informed decision-making. Check out the Center for Healthy Living website Exit Disclaimer throughout National Nutrition Month to see more updates.

The Center for Healthy Living and MCH Training Program believe that with access to knowledge and practical training, people can create lasting, meaningful change in their local communities. We would like to thank HRSA for their continued support and funding. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the MCH Training Program, feel free to contact the Program Manager, Cristell Perez, MPH at or (512) 482-6150. To learn more, contact us about the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living. Exit Disclaimer

MCH Training Program; University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health; Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living; Grand Valley State University School of Social Work

University of Tennessee MCH Nutrition Leadership Trainees and Faculty Work with Community Partners to Improve Access to Healthy Food

Group photo of the Fresh Food for All Policy Brief Team

Fresh Food for All Policy Brief Team: Marissa Black, Marleah Payne,
Marsha Spence, Chelsea Allison, Jennifer Russomanno, Marissa McElrone


As part of the University of Tennessee’s MCH Nutrition Leadership Education and Training Program, Marsha Spence, PhD, MPH, RDN, LDN, Program Director, taught a doctoral nutrition policy course in Spring 2018. One short-term trainee and four long-term trainees were enrolled in the course and funded trainee and doctoral candidate, Marissa McElrone, was a graduate teaching assistant. As the culminating experience, trainees wrote a policy brief and participated in the University of Tennessee’s Howard Baker Center’s Public Policy Challenge, which was open to all University of Tennessee (UT) graduate and undergraduate students. As part of the course and challenge, the trainees developed a blog post, prepared a video Exit Disclaimer, a policy brief, Exit Disclaimer entitled Fresh Food for All, and a presentation for review by an expert panel. The team received the first-place award and received $3,000 to advance their policy initiative, which aimed to increase WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) voucher redemption during summer months in 2019.

In collaboration with community partners at the Knox County Health Department’s Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Nourish Knoxville, a non-profit organization that operates farmers’ markets in the Knox County area, the trainees developed an information flyer that was distributed by Knox County Health Department WIC staff, a website to assist WIC participants, Exit Disclaimer and informative rack cards for display at participating farmers’ booths. Currently, the trainees and Dr. Spence are working to evaluate the policy initiative to see if it helped increase redemption rates via Knox County FMNP redemption rates, to determine the number of hits on the website, and to ascertain WIC participants’ overall experiences at area farmers’ markets using an online survey developed by the team. Jennifer Russomanno, a short-term trainee and doctoral candidate in Public Health, will present the findings at the University of Tennessee’s upcoming Promoting Healthy Weight 3.0 Colloquium: A Socio-Ecological Perspective - Policy at All Levels Exit Disclaimer on March 29, 2019.

The UT MCH Nutrition Leadership Education and Training Program has a long history of partnership with community partners. MCH faculty work closely with community partners, including public health nutritionists from the Knox County Health Department, to develop community assessment projects that provide practice experience integrated with didactic learning components. A recently published manuscript highlights one of these projects Exit Disclaimer, which demonstrates how partnering with community agencies can improve graduate education and children’s access to healthy foods.

Tulane University MCH Nutrition - Dr. Pia Chaparro

Using longitudinal administrative data from children who participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in Los Angeles County between 2003 and 2016, Dr. Chaparro is evaluating the impact of the 2009 WIC food package change on growth trajectories from 0-4 years and obesity risk at age 4 years. Along with her colleagues at UCLA and PHFE WIC, Dr. Chaparro found that exposure to the new food package (compared to the old) from 0 to 4 years was associated with healthier growth trajectories (i.e. weight-for-height z-scores [WHZ] closer to the mean of 0 and further from the overweight category of WHZ>2) and a 10-12% lower obesity risk at age 4 years (10% for girls, 12% for boys). A manuscript based on these findings was recently accepted for publication at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (forthcoming). Next steps include investigating if the type of infant food package received from 0-12 months could explain the observed improved obesity outcomes among children exposed to the new food package, and whether the effect of exposure to the new food package on child obesity varies by family and/or neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics. This study is funded by the American Heart Association (AHA)’s Scientist Development Grant (Grant No. 17SDG33660878; 7/1/2017-6/30/2020). Beginning Fall 2019, Tulane’s MCH Nutrition trainees will support this and other faculty-led MCH Nutrition research projects as part of their research rotations.

Dr. Pia Chaparro is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Core Faculty of the Tulane’s Nutrition Leadership Training Program.

Healthy Tomorrows – Choosing Health and Active Lifestyles for Kids (CHALK): Leveraging Community Resources to Increase Family Engagement in Well-Being

CHALK, New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s childhood obesity program, has expanded their programming to early childhood centers (CHALK Jr.) through Healthy Tomorrows. CHALK Jr. is currently partnering with three different early childhood centers in Washington Heights, located in Northern Manhattan. In addition to bringing direct programming at the centers to enhance healthier eating and active lifestyle practices amongst toddlers, parents, and staff, CHALK Jr. has been committed to strengthening and leveraging community resources in order to provide lower-income families with programs that promote overall well-being.

One such project is a partnership with New York City Parks and Recreation Center Department, specifically with Highbridge Recreation Center (HRC) located in Washington Heights. CHALK Jr. has engaged community fitness instructors, and purchased toddler fitness equipment, healthy snacks, and water in order to host free monthly “Family Wellness Saturdays” to the community at HRC. These monthly Saturdays consist of a combination of:

  • Two to three family fitness classes such as, yoga, dance, or kickboxing
  • An open toddler play space with play and fitness equipment
  • A raffle for 6-month recreation center memberships or healthy café gift cards for adults, and age-appropriate sports balls for kids
  • Healthy and fresh fruit and/or herb infused water to promote hydration
  • A healthy snacks station with fruit and/or vegetables with hummus

As part of the recruitment effort, CHALK Jr. has been hosting parent workshops at its early education partner sites on the importance of sleep, physical activity, nutrition, and overall family wellness. CHALK Jr. staff has facilitated workshops to increase family engagement in the overall topic of wellness and successfully sign families up for a tour at HRC. The purpose of the tour is to help motivate and bring families to the facility to see what is there, and to partake in the free family wellness session. CHALK Jr. aims to increase awareness and exposure to existing community resources and increase family participation in wellness activities.

The CHALK Jr. program takes into account that some families may not regularly have access nor the means to afford the cost of memberships to facilities, healthy eating options, and/or physical activity promoting toys. Although children under 18 have free membership to the recreation centers, adults need to buy a membership. Therefore, CHALK Jr. is sponsoring a raffle at these wellness Saturdays to help increase parents’ ability to access the full facility while also helping to increase membership numbers for HRC.


University of Tennessee MCH Nutrition Trainee and Faculty Members Assess and Address Food Insecurity Among College Students

College students may not be a population that we traditionally thought of as dealing with hunger, but new research indicates that rates of food insecurity are high on college campuses throughout the US. Through a partnership with the Southeastern Universities Consortium on Hunger Poverty and Nutrition, MCH Nutrition Trainee, Ms. Ruth Wooten, and MCH Nutrition faculty Drs. Betsy Anderson Steeves and Marsha Spence completed a cross sectional survey assessment of more than 4,000 college students to measure the rates of food insecurity among college students within a large university system. They found that more than 1 out of 3 college students within the University system experienced food insecurity, meaning that the students’ struggled to get enough food overall, or enough variety of food to live a healthy lifestyle.  This research has been published in the journal, Public Health Nutrition, Exit Disclaimer and was featured on the local Knoxville NPR affiliate, WUOT, where Dr. Anderson Steeves was interviewed for a weekly health-focused program, Health Connections. Exit Disclaimer

Drs. Anderson Steeves and Spence continue to work on addressing the issue of food insecurity on college campuses by serving as members of the Hunger and Homelessness Task Force at the University of Tennessee, and by forging innovative partnerships with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Student Health Center to routinely screen and provide referrals for campus-related resources to address food insecurity.


Group photo of the Fresh Food for All Policy Brief Team

Left to Right: Ruth Wooten, MS, RDN; Betsy Anderson Steeves, PhD, RDN;

and Marsha Spence, PhD, MPH, RDN, LDN

University of California, Berkeley Center of Excellence – Life Course Perspective Training Modules

The University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health’s Center of Excellence in MCH, Education, Science, and Practice has created a free, open-source, self-directed, training module series on Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Life Course Perspective, Practice, and Leadership. Exit Disclaimer

This resource provides access to high-quality training for working healthcare clinicians, public health practitioners, students, and professionals from across disciplines, locations, and backgrounds to expand their knowledge of key MCAH concepts in research and practice. The training module series is also accessible to community members and community-based organizations. 

Each module includes an interview with a subject matter expert, available readings, case studies of organizations in practice, and opportunities for reflection. The video series highlights 15 partner organizations and covers the following topics:

  • Overview Life Course Perspective – Featuring Dr. Michael Lu, MD, MS, MPH, the former Director of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2012 to 2017.
  • Health Equity & Social Determinants of Health Featuring Dr. Paula Braveman, MPH, MD, Director of the Center on Social Disparities in Health at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Timing of Exposures and Cumulative Impacts of Risk and Protective Factors across the Lifespan: Opportunities for Intervention – Featuring Kiko Malin, MSW/MPH is the Director of the Family Health Services Division at the Alameda County Public Health Department.
  • Place Matters: The Impacts of Physical, Social, and Economic Environments on MCAH Outcomes Featuring Dr. Anthony Iton, MD, JD, MPH Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities at The California Endowment
  • Moving Towards Health Equity – Integrating a Life Course Perspective in MCAH Practice-Featuring Dr. Vijaya Hogan, MPH, DrPH, perinatal epidemiologist and Program Officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Please watch this video on YouTube for an overview. Exit Disclaimer

For additional information on the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Life Course Perspective, Practice, & Leadership training series, contact Center Director Julianna Deardorff.


Michigan Child Collaborative Care Program (MC3) - Connect Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program

The Michigan Child Collaborative Care Program (MC3) provides access to mental health consultation for primary care providers (PCPs) treating children, youth and pregnant women. This includes same-day phone consultation for PCPs with University of Michigan Child, Adolescent, and Perinatal Psychiatrists (CAPPs); remote tele-psychiatric evaluation of patients and families requiring a more in-depth assessment; coordination of care and brief treatments using a statewide network of masters prepared Behavioral Health Consultants (BHCs); group case consultation wherein multiple providers can discuss a number of cases in a single session and web-based mental health education for enrolled providers.

MC3-Connect, a partnership between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, will enrich the current MC3 Program in the following ways:  

  1. EXPANSION: Expansion throughout the state of Michigan including to tribal populations of rural Upper Peninsula (UP), and those in “the thumb” and surrounding counties of the Lower Peninsula; minorities in underserved urban and rural counties; and Hispanic and Latino seasonal migrant workers from these areas. The expansion will also incorporate school-based Child and Adolescent Health Centers (CAHCs) in Michigan.
  2. EDUCATION: Using the MC3 infrastructure, additional trainings using webinars and group case-consultations will be developed, tailored, and delivered to school-based health providers, PCPs, and medical trainees with content based on the didactic domains most needed. Michigan State University (MSU), a land grant university with seven community campuses and hundreds of clinical sites across the state of Michigan, will train the next generation of providers. Webinars will be developed in: suicide assessment/safety planning, substance use, autism, trauma and preschool mental health.
  3. LINKAGE: MC3-Connect will link the MC3 program to other current initiatives at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University (MSU), and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that provide training for clinicians in evidence-based interventions. In this way, MC3-Connect will serve as a “hub” leveraging these available programs to its expansive network of providers.
    : MC3-Connect will harness the power of the MC3 BHCs to assist school-based Child and Adolescent Health Center providers in incorporating mental health and substance use screening into their practice workflow, and to connect at-risk youth to community and MC3 resources.
    Primary Care
    : MC3 faculty and staff currently work with primary care providers to implement workflow procedures that include mental health and developmental screening, and when appropriate, referral to MC3. The MC3-Connect screening in primary care will expand support for Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) screening of postpartum mothers in pediatric offices, with referral of high-risk women for MC3 phone consultation. Additionally, the MC3 team will work with pilot PCP sites to screen for high-risk mother-child dyads using the Relational Health Screen Tool to enhance resilience and promote attachment security. This screening/intervention tool is commonly used in dyads where there is a history of maternal trauma, mental illness, or addiction to prevent intergenerational transmission of trauma and resulting physical, emotional and psychiatric issues in children.
For additional information on the Michigan Child Collaborative Care-Connect Program, contact Debra A. Pinals, MD, Project Director at    


logo for Brenner-Wake-ForestDeveloping a Pediatric Telemental Health Network for Rural Alabama (PMHCA)

The Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) is a recent recipient of one of HRSA’s grants to develop a Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) Program. The Department of Mental Health, led by Commissioner Lynn Beshear, provides extensive services to Alabamians with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders.

The purpose of the PMHCA Program is to promote behavioral health integration in pediatric primary care by supporting the development of new or improvement of existing statewide pediatric mental health care telehealth access programs. To implement the Program, a collaboration was formed between ADMH and Children’s of Alabama, a private, not-for-profit medical center providing specialized medical care for ill and injured children.

Children’s of Alabama, through the Ireland Center, provides a full array of behavioral health services in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Services are delivered by a multidisciplinary team of child/adolescent psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, therapists, and nurses. Children’s of Alabama also operates the Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC), located in the emergency department of the hospital. PIRC is a confidential psychiatric response center designed to assist patients, their loved ones and/or caregivers, and community providers in finding the appropriate level of mental health care. These services are provided via telephone or in person by licensed mental health clinicians trained to assess a child or teen’s mental, emotional, and behavioral needs and recommend the best treatment options. Children’s of Alabama is ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and offers an array of both inpatient and outpatient services. Other collaborators include the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health Evaluation Team, and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The Project is led by Jane Duer, M.Ed., ECSE, who has been employed by ADMH for six years as the Coordinator of Early Intervention Services. Jane is co-author and Project Director for the Alabama Pediatric Telemental Health Network, and in that role provides oversight, contract management, and administrative liaison with HRSA. Susan Griffin, LICSW, PIP, CHCQM, with Children’s of Alabama, is the Project Manager, and has responsibility for daily oversight and implementation of the Program, ensuring that all clinical and administrative activities of the Program are carried out, and that all performance expectations and goals are clear and met according to the program description.

The Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program has two main elements to be implemented over the next five years:

  • To develop a clinical network of pediatric primary care practices who will work closely with the Children’s of Alabama mental health team to deliver telemental health (Clinical Telemental Health Network). The Network will provide direct consultation and guidance using a team of mental health professionals and primary care providers, as well as mental health consultations for patients via videoconferencing for comprehensive health care management. The model will capitalize on the long established pediatric periodicity schedule of preventative and interventional care for a child from birth through adolescence.
  • To provide/conduct broad group education of primary care providers and other health professionals via the Extension of Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) model (Group Telementoring). Through this evidence-based telementoring program, interactive relationships will be formed with many providers across Alabama to disseminate subspecialty knowledge. Children’s of Alabama is partnering with the American Academy of Pediatrics to replicate the ECHO model. Educational programming will be open to primary care providers as well as other behavioral health professionals, Department of Public Health social workers, school counselors and nurses, and other interested individuals. Children’s of Alabama will also provide continuing education credits for participating professionals.

Children’s of Alabama has established internal mental health teams who will be providing both the telementoring and telemedicine components of the Program. Curriculum content is being developed to enable the Program to commence its first ECHO session in the third quarter of 2019. The Program is modeled after a telemedicine project that was implemented between Children’s of Alabama through Dr. Tommy Vaughan, a child/adolescent psychiatrist, the Department of Mental Health, and Dr. Marsha Raulerson, a pediatrician in rural Brewton, Alabama. This model has served over 500 children during the past 15 years and will be the basis for development and expansion of telehealth activities outlined for the Program. Current activities include conducting a needs assessment with pediatricians statewide, assisted by the Alabama chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Evaluation Team, as well as identifying pediatricians in Alabama’s rural counties who wish to partner with us to join the Pediatric Telemental Health Network Program. This five-year project represents a unique collaboration between many stakeholders who are serving the children of Alabama, and whose goal is to improve access to quality behavioral health care services for Alabama’s underserved children, particularly in rural areas of the state.

Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC (Healthy Tomorrows) – Paper Published Highlighting Transportation Issues Faced by Latino Children with Medical Complexity

In the November 2018 issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal, Dr. Savithri Nageswaran (a Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program [HTPCP] grantee), Ms. Aura Rosado, and Dr. M. Stockton Beveridge published a paper highlighting the transportation challenges faced by Latino children with medical complexity (CMC).

HTPCP funds the community care coordination program for CMC at Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC. This community program is part of the Pediatric Enhanced Care Program  Exit Disclaimer, a special program for CMC. CMC are children with serious medical problems, they receive care from many doctors and other providers, and are admitted to the hospital frequently. As a result, their families have to navigate a complex healthcare system.

Our team is interdisciplinary and includes a physician, two nurses, a social worker and a patient navigator. Our social worker and patient navigator are Latina and are bilingual. Having two bilingual care coordinators enabled our team to serve Latino families and learn about the unique challenges faced by these families as they navigate the health system. Our coordinators have also been able to build strong relationships with these families.

In this study, we used the encounter logs that the two bilingual care coordinators maintained and identified the challenges faced by families of 70 Latino CMC. We found that these families had many difficulties as they navigated the complex health system for their children. We were surprised that transportation was a major problem. Many families had problems transporting children to hospitals and doctors' appointments, but they also had difficulty using transportation benefits that were entitled to their children. There were many reasons for this difficulty, but the main issue was the language barrier. These problems had serious consequences for children, including missing appointments and having delayed arrival at appointments, leading them to miss much needed medical care. In the future, we should find out the extent of transportation problems; and test whether addressing transportation problems can improve families' ability to keep appointments with doctors. Twelve states and Washington, DC have provided temporary drivers' licenses for unauthorized immigrants, but North Carolina does not have such a policy. We should evaluate whether states that have policies for temporary drivers' licenses have less transportation problems.

Having two bilingual Latina care coordinators has uniquely positioned our program to serve and address the unique needs of Latino CMC. In recognition of her service for Latino CMC, Ms. Rosado received the Notable Latino Award by the Latino Community Coalition of Guilford in 2018.

The Nemours Foundation of Wilmington, DE (Healthy Tomorrows) – Pediatric Scholars Program

logo for NemoursThe Nemours Foundation of Wilmington, Delaware has developed a special visiting rotation for Under-Represented Medical (URM) students called the Pediatric Scholars Program. Nemours provides a travel stipend, and selects URM medical students who are interested in doing a month-long elective with Nemours. In addition to standard clinical rotations, Nemours offers a “health disparities research and advocacy” rotation, which is more of a non-clinical academic experience. During the health disparities research and advocacy rotation, Nemours gives the students an overview of its Healthy Tomorrows project as an example of a Population Health based approach to addressing social determinants. The Nemours Aces to Aces: Accelerating Community Engagement to Address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) project aims to ensure that every child in Delaware's ACEs "hot spots" has access to a trauma-informed medical home, access to neighborhood supports, and improved parental mental health.

Guidelines and Health Conditions Related to Timing of Early Infant Feeding: A Review

logo for ASPHNThe 2018 Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) Brief on Guidelines and Health Conditions Related to Timing of Early Infant Feeding  Exit Disclaimer includes the most recent findings and guidelines necessary for public health nutritionists, including:

  • A brief summary of infant feeding guidelines regarding the introduction of complementary foods from historical, present, and future perspectives
  • Highlights on relevant research describing the impact of introduction of complementary foods on long-term outcomes, such as obesity/overweight, allergies, and anemia
  • A summary of information on these three aforementioned health conditions into applicable messages for public health nutritionists
  • Connections between the overarching relationship of breastfeeding and these aforementioned health conditions
  • Additional resources to provide further knowledge concerning infant feeding

Children's Healthy Weight Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network – Highlight on Physical Activity Team in Indiana

logo for Indiana State Department of Health, Division of Nutrition and Physical ActivityThe Children's Healthy Weight Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CHW-CoIIN)  Exit Disclaimer includes Indiana as a state team focused on physical activity. Team lead Kelsey Barrick shared the following about Indiana's project.

After the Children's Healthy Weight Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CHW-CoIIN) In-Person Meeting in January 2018, Indiana's team acquired two interns from the University of Indianapolis to help research best practices related to adapting physical activity to students with special needs. The result of their work was a list of professionals in Indiana that focused their work in this area. Their findings also informed Indiana about what other states were doing regarding adapted physical activity projects.

In March, Indiana team leads Jessica and Kelsey attempted to convene a work group of professionals across Indiana who specialize in serving students with special needs. After consulting with professionals at Indiana University Bloomington, Jessica and Kelsey tried to recruit special needs advocates -- parents, educators, school professionals, after school providers, etc. Unfortunately, there was no traction with this work group.

In May, Jessica and Kelsey partnered with special needs professors at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and focused on regional work regarding adapted physical activity. The result of this partnership led to awarding scholarships to local districts in order to send one professional to a semester-long training, for intensive, hands-on learning for adapted physical activity.

The Adapted Movement Programs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis School of Health and Human Sciences Exit Disclaimer houses the Adapted Movement Programs (AMP). The mission of AMP is to provide high quality adapted physical activity programming to families and individuals with disabilities in conjunction with educating Kinesiology students on best practices. Individuals applying to the grant program will be involved in one of the two clinics during the academic year, Motor Activity Clinic (MAC) or Ability Fitness Clinic (AFC). Children that engage in MAC are between the ages of 3 to 15 years and have various disability characteristics. The focus on MAC is to provide motor development and motor skill training in the gymnasium and aquatic setting. Adults participating in AFC are from ages 16 to adulthood and have various disabling conditions.

Those applying to the grant will work one-on-one or two-on-one with a child or adult under the supervision of Dr. Katie Stanton and Mrs. Amy Oliver, MS. Both Dr. Stanton and Mrs. Oliver have expertise in adapted physical activity and considerable experience teaching and working with people with disabilities in various settings. Grantees can expect to gain skills in assessment, activity modification, appropriate planning and motor skill development, and experience in writing Individualized Education Planning goals and objectives. Grantees will also work with Dr. Stanton and Mrs. Oliver on how to apply skills gained in their own school/organizational setting.

For more information, visit the Children's Healthy Weight CoIIN website.  Exit Disclaimer

University of Minnesota LEAH – We're All Human: Examining Unconscious Bias

The University of Minnesota's Leadership Education in Adolescent Health program (UMN-LEAH) is fortunate to be housed with several other adolescent health-focused programs; key among these is the Healthy Youth Development-Prevention Research Center (PRC) funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So, when LEAH Social Work faculty member, Paul Snyder, isn't teaching and mentoring LEAH trainees, he is directing the PRC's core research study, Partnering for Healthy Student Outcomes (PHSO). And the UMN-LEAH trainees are benefiting as well.

Launched in 2014, PHSO has been working with 3 middle schools to address academic and health disparities, particularly for the most disengaged learners. Central to the program is an innovative and effective year-long teacher professional development (PD) program developed by Snyder and PRC colleague, Abigail Gadea. Years ago, both Snyder and Gadea committed themselves to more deeply understanding issues of equity and diversity, including their own unconscious or implicit biases; both are graduates of the University of Minnesota's Leaders in Equity and Diversity program. With these lenses, they quickly recognized how teachers' unconscious biases were impeding effective engagement with their students. Subsequently, they integrated into the PD program a session that encourages teachers to explore these biases so they can implement equitable teaching practices that address the needs of all students in their classroom.logo for Whole Learners, Relationships Matter The evaluation of the PD program developed by Snyder and Gadea was so positive, they have translated that work into a free-standing PD program called Whole Learners©.

Snyder and Gadea brought their training on unconscious bias to the faculty and staff of the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, where both the LEAH program and the PRC are housed. This training was so well received, they created a seminar for UMN-LEAH trainees: Examining Unconscious Bias. In this seminar, Gadea and Snyder strive to create an inclusive, open, and safe training environment by working with the trainees to establish grounding assumptions – agreements for how they will act toward and support one another during the seminar. Through individual exercises, personal stories, a video, verbal presentation, and large group and pair activities, Snyder and Gadea define unconscious bias, encourage self-reflection, provide research evidence, ask questions about trainees' personal experiences, request one verbally expressed take-away from each participant, and provide resources for further exploration.

Everyone has unconscious biases, and unconscious bias influences our actions and decisions. When we are working with others – whether that be in our teaching, planning or implementing research, recruiting or hiring new faculty or staff – only when we take the time to become aware of our unconscious biases and become actively mindful of their influence can we begin to create and support equity.

University of Miami School of Medicine LEND – A Community-Based Approach to Training Tomorrow's Leaders to Improve Health at the Intersection of Disability and Other Minority Status

Mailman Center for Child Development
Department of Pediatrics
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

MCH leaders in the 21st century require a remarkably diverse set of skills to be able to improve the health and well-being of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders (NDD/ASD). MCH leaders must be well trained in the disciplinary skills of their everyday work; they must be family-centered and culturally competent as they adapt to an increasingly diverse population; they must be able to partner with individuals and organizations, especially those with different goals and professional backgrounds; they must be able to recognize how larger systems-level issues affect MCH; they must be innovative in using (and creating) evidence-based solutions to address individual and public health problems; and they must be focused on outcomes that matter to families and to communities.

With these key principles in mind, the overarching goal of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) training program at the Mailman Center for Child Development (MCCD) is to develop leadership in MCH faculty and practitioners to improve the health and well-being of families and children with NDD/ASD, especially those who experience high levels of health disparities because of race/ethnicity. In response to new evidence and the changing needs of this population, we have designed our LEND to focus on improving health outcomes at the intersection of disability and other minority status, such as race and ethnicity.

Teacher using assistive technology with child

Teacher using assistive technology with child

One way we do this is by training a diverse workforce. Over the last 5 years, we have graduated 384 long-term trainees (LTTs) in 13 disciplines, 65% of whom are ethnic/racial minorities. Our 126 Hispanic LTT represent approximately one-quarter of all Hispanic long-term LEND trainees in the US. Long-term follow-up surveys demonstrate that 84% of our LTTs report family-centered, interdisciplinary practice in an MCH setting, and 75% demonstrate leadership through organizational leadership, research and publications, or other activities designed to improve systems of care. Our impact is both regional and national; half of our LTTs remain in Florida; the other half work in three countries, 21 other states, and Puerto Rico. Our graduates hold or have held regional, state, national, and international leadership positions.

A second approach is our focus on improving health in underserved communities. We are committing resources to support training and leadership capacity in two “communities of focus” (Overtown and East Little Havana) —neighborhoods adjacent to MCCD that are culturally diverse, economically challenged, and underserved by health and education professionals despite having extremely high levels of morbidity and mortality. Over the last two years, for example, we have extended three MCCD-based programs by training staff of community partners to provide behavioral health interventions, family navigation, and implementation of assistive technology. A further goal is to assist our partners in obtaining grant funding and governmental appropriations themselves, so they will have future program sustainability and opportunities for innovation. Our vision is to address population health outcomes and develop trainees who can plan community-based interventions to improve systems of care, then translate this process to other communities.

Kennedy Krieger Institute (LEND) - Embedding Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence

Approximately 50 faculty, staff, and trainees from the LEND, Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD), Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership and Training, the Center for Innovation & Leadership in Special Education, and Senior Management of the Kennedy Krieger Institute attended a three-day, on-site technical assistance program, Embedding Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence, presented by the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at Georgetown University and the Center for Child and Human Development faculty, including: Tawara Goode, Wendy Jones, and Vivian Jackson. Kennedy Krieger Institute was one of four programs that were selected from 14 UCEDDs that applied for this on-site technical assistance. Other UCEDDs selected were Alaska, Louisiana, and New Mexico. This interactive program addressed the following topics: Cultural Diversity and Competence and Linguistic Competence: Definitions, Conceptual Frameworks, and What it Means for Your Center; Envisioning a Culturally and Linguistic Competent Organization; Aligning Cultural and Linguistic Competence Values with Organizational Policy; Embedding Project Tools, Ethical Issues and Challenges; and Essential Areas of Knowledge and Skills for Aspiring and Practicing Professionals in Developmental Disabilities.

Group photo KKI LEND participants

Participants of the Embedding Cultural Diversity and Cultural and
Linguistic Competence technical assistance program.

Kennedy Krieger Institute (LEND) – The 8th Annual Room to Grow: Journey to Cultural and Linguistic Competency Conference

logo for ASPHNThe 8th annual Room to Grow: Journey to Cultural and Linguistic Competency conference was held on Tuesday, September 18th at Johns Hopkins Hospital. During the morning session, presenters included Shelly Choo, MD, MPH, Senior Medical Advisor for the Baltimore City Health Department who spoke on B'more for Healthy Babies: A Path to Child and Family Health in Baltimore City; Michael Lu MD, MS, MPH Senior Associate Dean for Academic, Student, and Faculty Affairs at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and former Associate Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau (2012 - 2017) who spoke on Leading Change; and, Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., a nationally recognized leader in the movement to advance health equity among uder-resourced, vulnerable and marginalized communities who spoke on The Danger of Futility: Creating a Sea Change for Health Equity in America. In the afternoon, Dr. Rafael Luna, Associate Dean in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, Director of the Pre-Health Program, and Director of the Gateway Scholars Program for STEM conducted a workshop on Telling a Story:  The Art of Scientific Writing for trainees, residents, and students. In addition, Dr. William T. L. Cox, social psychologist and currently an assistant scientist in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, conducted a workshop on Empowering People to Break the Prejudice Habit: Creating Inclusion and Reducing Bias. Over 160 trainees, residents, students, faculty, clinicians, and community members were in attendance.

Healthy Tomorrows for New Britain Teens

Links to Infographic

Over the past decade, Healthy Tomorrows for New Britain Teens has evolved from an obesity prevention program into a youth and community led movement that is addressing some of the city's most challenging health, education and mental health problems. With support from an initial Healthy Tomorrows Partnerships for Children Program grant (2007-2012), the program combined access to health services with an emphasis on youth leadership. A second Healthy Tomorrows grant (2013-2018) supported the establishment of a Teen Center (the House of Teens) at the YWCA, a space where teens could access family planning, stress reduction, fitness and other services, while also making their voices heard through supporting policy change. June 2018 saw the grand opening of the East side Community Center in a renovated building in one of the city's poorest communities. The center is poised to become a hub of connection and revitalization where teens and residents can access services from multisectoral partners, engage with their neighbors, and promote a safe, walkable, healthy, more vibrant community.

Key drivers of growth and sustainability are:

1) Multisectoral coalition building: A shared mission of service to adolescents was the "glue" that kept core partners (Community Health Center, Inc., YWCA of New Britain, New Britain High School) actively engaged for over a decade. As the focus on policy increased, the coalition expanded, to include partners from higher education, the City of New Britain, and the business community.

2) Community based participatory research and Photovoice: In 2009, the goal of youth empowerment took a major step forward with the addition of Photovoice (PV) to the portfolio of health promotion services. PV is a community-based participatory research strategy that taps into the "natural activism" of youth. Teens take photos documenting issues of concern to them in the community, engage in dialogue with policy makers about those issues and take action to create a healthier environment. Photovoice has proven its value as both a research tool to investigate health problems and an intervention to engage youth and community members in creating and supporting solutions.

3) Policy change: Through PV youth learned how policy decisions about the built environment (e.g., parks, pools, transportation) influence the behavioral choices that individuals make. Through civic engagement (e.g., speaking at city council meetings), teens showed their support for policies to improve the built environment (e.g., reopen pools) or their health and educational options. In a statement acknowledging the impact of Healthy Tomorrows, New Britain's mayor, Erin Stewart, noted that such policy changes "address a broad spectrum of educational and economic, as well as health, goals of the city by nurturing healthy, well-educated youth—the next generation of city's leaders."

Boston Children's Hospital Healthy Tomorrows & Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)

Cost Analysis of an Asthma Home Visiting Program Using Claims Data from a Medicaid Managed Care Organization

The Boston Children's Hospital Community Asthma Initiative (CAI) provides nurse-supervised community health worker (CHW) asthma education, case management, home visiting and environmental assessment in a culturally competent and linguistically appropriate manner for low-income children in Boston. CAI specifically focuses on serving children who have had previous hospitalizations or emergency department visits or who have other risk factors identified by primary or specialty care providers that contribute to poor asthma control. By working closely with these patients and their families, CAI aims to address the substantial socioeconomic and racial/ethnic health disparities that exist among patients in the Boston area.

CAI has made considerable impacts on the asthma patient community, including remarkable reductions in children with any emergency department visits (57%) and hospitalizations (81%). A recent cost analysis conducted using claims data from one Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) yielded adjusted return on investments (ROIs) of 0.31, 0.78, and 1.37 at 1, 2, and 3 years post-CAI intervention. The use of actual insurance data rather than estimated costs allowed for a more realistic cost analysis that took into account service utilization across settings and the total corresponding costs of care to payers, providing greater validation for previous positive ROIs for the program using hospital administrative data.

In addition to providing care and support for families in the Boston area, CAI is currently focused on replicating the CAI model at Pediatric Physicians' Organization at Children's (PPOC) primary care sites in the South Coast and Western MA, both of which have unique vulnerabilities for asthma exacerbations, including high levels of poverty.

LEAH Program at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Nimi Singh, Adolescent Medicine Physician

From the time she completed fellowship training in 1995, Dr. Nimi Singh, MD, MPH, MA, Adolescent Medicine Faculty with the University of Minnesota LEAH Training Program, has focused her teaching, scholarly activity, and clinical work on mental health promotion among adolescents from varying socioeconomic and cultural contexts. In 2014, she was invited to share her perspective on translating best practices in adolescent mental health promotion into teaching modules for health care practitioners, which were then published as a series of chapters in "Reaching Teens: Strength-based Communication Strategies to Build Resilience and Support Healthy Adolescent Development". This American Academy of Pediatrics publication, endorsed by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, is designed to impart practical strategies for clinicians to improve their communication skills in working with teens across a wide array of health care settings.

One of the foundational approaches that Dr. Singh has come to embrace in her own work, supported by a substantial body of evidence, is the role of lifestyle in supporting or compromising the mental health of young people. More specifically, she emphasizes the importance of clinicians focusing on the critical roles that optimal sleep, nutrient-dense whole foods, self-regulation strategies, and physical activity play in supporting the mental health needs of all adolescents, including those who are struggling with mental illness. To this end, she has developed screening questions and brief teaching points for clinicians to use in encounters with adolescents, which are currently being incorporated into a newly-developed "Adolescent Depression Action Plan" for the University of Minnesota’s health care organization.

Wisconsin MCH Training Programs - Shared Day of Learning

The MCH Training programs in Wisconsin (Pipeline, LEND, and PPC) partnered with a community-initiated program, Strong Baby Sanctuary, to host and participate in the first annual Shared Day of Learning. The Strong Baby program works to reduce infant mortality in the Milwaukee zip codes with the highest rates of infant mortality by training community facilitators from faith-based organizations to become sanctuaries of support for vulnerable pregnant mothers and mothers with newborns. Over 60 MCH trainees/faculty and 40 community members from 30 sanctuaries participated in this interdisciplinary day-long event. Programming included panels of mothers and Sanctuary facilitators who provided real-life stories of community challenges and successes, epidemiologists from the City of Milwaukee Health department, a speaker from WIC who also introduced an integrated early literacy program for the Sanctuaries, and interdisciplinary MCH student panels that provided training for community members on early nutrition for moms and babies, transitioning from bottle to cup, early play, and CDC resources for early developmental milestones.

group photo

To kick off the event, MCH trainees from across the three programs had conducted diaper drives on their respective campuses and then came together on the morning of the event to organize these supplies for distribution to the Sanctuary sites. The development and evaluation of this event was framed by the (pre-2018) MCH Leadership Competencies including: knowledge base, ethics and professionalism, critical thinking, communication, cultural competence, family-centered care, interdisciplinary team building, and policy and advocacy. Feedback from community and Sanctuary members included appreciation for information that "allows us to go back and help the young mothers/fathers in our program," for "materials we can distribute to our sanctuary team," and for "useful resources for questions asked by the new moms who come to us." Feedback from the MCH trainees included appreciation of "community stories to help [them] learn about the real issues families face," appreciation for the opportunity "to interact with community leaders," and powerful comments about the day "making disparities real." The second annual Shared Day of Learning is presently being organized to continue this impactful collaborative event to reduce infant mortality and support children and families in inner city Milwaukee.

Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute at the University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Public Health Practice

The Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute at the University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) teaches collaborative leadership skills with a focus on the life-course perspective and health equity. Combining onsite sessions in Seattle with distance-based learning, the program incorporates individual and team-based learning components, including problem-based learning (PBL) cases about MCH-related challenges leaders face. Scholars assess their leadership skills, design and implement leadership projects in their agencies, and apply what they learn to their career.

Scholars, faculty, and guest presenters come from a range of roles and backgrounds working to advance health across the life course. Director Michelle Sarju, MSW, is a former midwife and a long-time MCH advocacy professional. Faculty have hailed from public health practice, various academic departments, primary care, organization development, and other areas. Guest presenters and panelists from the region bring career expertise in topics such as applying a life-course perspective to MCH leadership, using data for decision making, collaborating across sectors, resolving conflict using an equity lens, and communicating about sensitive issues. Scholars’ professional backgrounds range from MCH epidemiology, to public health nursing, to youth advocacy.

Former scholar Tatsuko
Go-Hollo (left) with Director
Michelle Sarju (right).

That breadth of disciplines and professions reflects an intentional and strategically expansive vision of MCH. As the cornerstone of NWCPHP’s HRSA-funded MCH Professionals Leadership Training Program, the Leadership Institute curriculum and program structure are interdisciplinary and interprofessional, particularly because of the life-course focus. Improving population health and equity at critical times across the life course involves many disciplines, professions, and roles working simultaneously and collaboratively on intersecting issues. The Leadership Institute is designed to both teach and model this for emerging public health leaders. This mirrors priorities of the new MCH Leadership Competencies version 4.0, which emphasizes the interprofessional nature of MCH.

University of Alabama at Birmingham PPC Trainees Plan Annual Event for School Nurses

School nurses in Alabama have very few opportunities for high-quality continuing education (CE), which are accessible and affordable. The Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has helped to fill this need for many years. Every January, the PPC Trainees meet with the lead nurses for two local school systems, the Jefferson County Board of Education and Birmingham City Schools. These lead nurses typically have a “wish list" of topics that have been requested by school nurses. These topics, combined with areas of high priority to MCHB, inform the program for an annual CE event, which is held at the end of the school year. Trainees work as a group to plan all aspects of the event, including budget management, logistics, locating speakers, printing programs, obtaining nursing continuing education units (CEU), and handling registration.

Pictured Left to Right: Dr. Theresa Rodgers, PPC Nursing Faculty; Jessica Stroud, PPC Nursing Trainee; Molly Bolton, PPC Nursing Trainee; Vivian Spears, PPC Family Advocate Trainee; Alex Hickey, PPC Nutrition Trainee; Abby Alger, PPC Social Work Trainee

UAB PPC Nursing Faculty Dr. Theresa Rodgers supervises this project. “The trainees learn a lot about event planning and working together as a team, including handling conflicts," according to Dr. Rodgers. “They do it all – from learning about purchase orders to introducing speakers."

The 2018 event, held on 5/25/18, had six different topics. The CEUs, breakfast, and lunch were all provided free of charge for the 60 attendees. Several PPC-specific topics, such as asthma and tracheostomy care, are requested nearly every year, while other topics, such as use of naloxone, are emerging issues. Former PPC Trainees consistently report that planning this event helps them gain confidence in interdisciplinary teamwork and leadership, as well as skills in event planning and working with community partners.

From the LEND Program at Westchester Institute for Human Development UCEDD, NY

Recently, the LEND Program at Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) added a new learning experience to the Interdisciplinary Clinical and Field Practice Module of their Interdisciplinary Leadership in Action Course.  The new community-based site visits and post-visit full-class discussion activities support trainees in gaining insight into the practical aspects of model interdisciplinary practice.  The learning objectives and pre-visit questions guide active observational experiences at community-based sites in multiple settings:  a neonatal ICU; an independent specialty children’s hospital; inclusion preschool classes for children with language, communication, cognitive and motor delays and/or autism; early intervention and preschool special education classrooms at a post-acute care center; and a work-readiness program that supports students transitioning from school to work and community.  Trainees make site visits in small groups with a LEND faculty member.  All trainees participate in a large group discussion after the visits to share new knowledge and insights. At several of the sites, former WIHD LEND trainees, who are now on staff, host the visit. Trainee feedback on this new curricular element has been extremely positive. 

Logo, University Of Minnesota, "Driven to Discover"

University of Minnesota LEAH: Seminar Series/Translating Research into Practice

For more than forty years, the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health program at the University of Minnesota (UMN LEAH) has been dedicated to improving the capacity of the workforce serving adolescents and young adults (AYA). Located within a land-grant university, UMN LEAH embraces the land-grant mission to translate and disseminate research with an aim of supporting real-world systems in making evidence-based and evidence-informed changes that positively impact young people’s health and well-being. Not only do faculty embrace this core principle but it is integrally woven into our interdisciplinary fellowship curriculum, providing trainees the skills for conducting, translating, and disseminating research, and the ability to provide technical assistance and support for policies that promote youth health.

Captured under the rubric Translating Research into Practice, UMN LEAH provides a 5-part seminar series to all first-year trainees that flips the traditional “research to practice” model by starting with “practice.” Focused on MCH Competencies of Communication, Family-Centered Care, Interdisciplinary Teams, and Policy and Advocacy, the overall goal of this series is to reframe how research and practice go together and build connections between academic and applied endeavors. Taught by a multi-disciplinary faculty (public health nursing, marketing/communications), these seminars provide foundational information about public health systems; dive deeply into how these systems use research; and enhance fellows’ translation, partnership and communication skills.

Over the course of the seminars, and with guidance from seminar faculty, trainees are actively engaged in translating their research into user-friendly products for practice audiences. Previously, a LEAH post-doctoral trainee and faculty member created a legislative brief for the MN Governor's Task Force on Bullying highlighting UMN LEAH research on youth bullying and prevention. This brief was used in concert with Governor’s Task Force testimony, to inform legislators and their staff about research relevant to the Safe and Supportive MN Schools Act, legislation that became MN law in 2014.

In addition to attending all seminars, trainees engage in a mentored collaboration with state public health agencies which could include:

  • Region V Adolescent Health Network leadership team (focused on improving health and health care for teens and young adults in MN, IN, OH, WI, MI)
  • State Adolescent Health Coordinators, with a particular focus on MCHB Title V Block Grant adolescent and young adult health focuses (improving health care, bullying prevention, injury prevention, nutrition and physical activity)
  • MN Department of Health MCH Advisory Task Force

This collaboration results in some research-to-practice “product” based on the needs of the system partner. Products include:

  • Newsletter stories
  • Testimony, and policy briefs
  • Presentation or webinar
  • Fact sheet or infographic
  • Literature review and summary
  • Submissions to National Network of State Adolescent Health Coordinators (NNSAHC) listserv


Delivering MCH Education to the Hard-to-Reach Workforce in the Rocky Mountain Region: The MCH-Link Program

The MCH-Link Program is an innovative public health scholarship program that offers graduate-level Maternal and Child Health (MCH) courses addressing the current educational and training needs of practicing MCH professionals working in rural, frontier, and tribal reservation communities in the Rocky Mountain region. A critical shortage of MCH professionals exist in these areas due to geographic isolation, limited financial resources, few educational opportunities in their community or workplace, and family responsibilities. The MCH-Link Program is helping to bridge this gap by providing educational equity through opportunities for higher education and ultimately career advancement for the hard-to-reach MCH workforce. Funded by the Division of MCH Workforce Development at HRSA, the program has created and delivered a diverse mix of ten MCH courses (1 credit-hour online and conference-based) through state-of-the-art learning methods. Students can select course content in maternal and childhood nutrition, intimate partner violence, early childhood health including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), adolescent health, AI/AN child development, sexual and reproductive health, and childhood obesity. Several other courses are currently under development. A MCH Certificate program was also created and launched during the first few years of MCH-Link, and is now fully funding five remote students who will complete their degree in 2019.

Through a collaborative network of MCH stakeholders, along with community, tribal, and rural public health partners, targeted marketing and outreach strategies are implemented each semester in order to recruit the hard-to-reach MCH workforce. Students who have been accepted into MCH-Link serve populations essential to the mission of the MCH workforce. They are public health and MCH nurses, home visitors, parent educators, MCH managers, consultants, epidemiologists, local public health directors, tribal head start staff, Indian Health Service employees, nutrition counselors and educators, violence prevention specialists, oral health workers, speech and language pathologists, and other disciplines. Now in its fourth year, MCH-Link has accepted and funded 75 rural and tribal MCH professionals to take the 1 credit-hour courses, and has also delivered these courses to over 350 graduate public health students. Extensive orientation and academic mentoring are provided to each MCH-Link student so that they are well prepared for graduate-level education. Some of the students have taken one course with MCH-Link, and other students have taken several courses in order to enhance their careers. Almost one-fourth of the MCH-Link students have experienced job changes representing professional advancement, or are now enrolled in another program of graduate study due to their success in the program. The majority of MCH-Link students come from Colorado (36%) and Wyoming (22%), along with Montana (16%) and South Dakota (12%). Students who live and work in other states have also taken courses with MCH-Link. Almost 25% of the MCH-Link students are American Indian and 5% are Hispanic or Latino. Tribal affiliations have included Oglala Lakota Sioux, Navajo, Southern Ute, Zia and Acoma Pueblo, and Northern Cheyenne.

Reaching the MCH workforce is proving to be a foundational step in quickly translating knowledge gained from course content into best practices, and is ultimately enhancing MCH services by helping promote the health and well-being of MCH populations in the Rocky Mountain region. Not only is this impacting the health of their clients, but the thinking and work of other professionals in their current rural and tribal environments. The program is housed at Colorado School of Public Health, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado. It is directed by Dr. Elizabeth Greenwell, ScD and Dr. Kathy Kennedy, DrPH. Dr. Michelle Sarche, PhD serves as Tribal Liaison and Caitlin Trucksess, MPH is the Program Manager.

For more information about the MCH-Link Program, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Greenwell.


Pediatric Nutrition Training Modules

The Center of Excellence in MCH Education Science & Practice at UAB School of Public Health has teamed up with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services/Children’s Rehabilitation Service to create the Pediatric Nutrition Training Modules Exit Disclaimer. The modules feature foundational information designed to refresh knowledge levels pertaining to the nutritional outpatient follow-up of children with commonly seen diagnoses. Nutritionists desiring information regarding the outpatient care of children with special health care needs can use these modules to meet their professional development goals while also receiving free Continuing Professional Education (CPE) units.

University of Alabama at BirminghamUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program

The UAB LEND incorporates autism awareness throughout their daily work in clinical settings, training, and community outreach. Recent highlights include co-sponsoring the 17th Annual Alabama Autism Conference in February, which focused on “Improving Daily Life for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Addressing Real Life Challenges,” with over 500 participants attending the day-long event, including educators, clinicians, trainees, caregivers, and self-advocates. In March, LEND faculty and trainees met side-by-side with self-advocates and families to educate legislators of the benefits of funding early intervention for children with ASD to promote increased independence and better long-term prognosis and satisfaction as adults. Several LEND faculty are part of the UAB Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO): Autism interdisciplinary team that meets bimonthly to provide telementoring to pediatricians and other healthcare providers across the state focused on identification and intervention with children and teens with autism spectrum disorder. Community awareness activities include supporting the Autism Society of Alabama and collaborations with other local and state organizations during the month of April and year-round, including co-sponsoring and participating in the 5th Annual Autism-Friendly Birmingham Barons baseball game on April 29th, providing technical assistance and support in community sensory-friendly theater and music events, and participation in the state Autism Council. Finally, the UAB Regional Autism Network, which is housed at UAB University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) in Developmental Disabilities/LEND, just finished its first year of existence, with a huge accomplishment of providing monthly education workshops for caregivers of individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Boston Children's Hospital, Until every child is wellBoston Children's Hospital Hosts Inaugural DBP Booster Conference for Primary Care Pediatricians

Hosts and participants at the first annual Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) Booster Course

Under the course direction of Alison Schonwald, MD**, Carrie Mauras, PhD, Holly Hodges, MD*, and Arda Hotz, MD^, over 20 pediatric residents and early career primary care pediatricians attended the 1st Annual Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) Booster Course at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH).

This two-day conference taught high-yield, relevant DBP topics for senior residents committed to primary care pediatrics and for pediatric providers newly in practice. Using innovative and adult-centered educational methods, including small groups discussions, use of technology, and case-based learning, participants boosted their knowledge in the following topics:

  • Primary Care for the Patient with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Supporting Children with Learning Disabilities
  • Reading an Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Understanding Neuropsychogical Testing
  • When to Refer for Developmental Delay
  • Top 10 Things Parents Want You to Know
  • Transition Issues
  • Behavior 101
  • Partnering with Parents

Faculty included DB Pediatricians, Psychologists, Primary Care Pediatricians, LEND Family Faculty member, and a Psychiatrist. This course was designed to address practicing pediatric primary care providers reported lack of sufficient skills to care for their patients with DBP needs. Despite dedicated time during pediatric residency for DBP training, these rotations often occur during internships, before career tracks are determined and when the information load is great. Revisiting this material as senior residents preparing to enter primary care (or early career) will serve to boost participant knowledge and confidence in behavioral and developmental concerns as they enter or continue in early practice. Program evaluation of the Booster is underway, and we hope to offer the course again to a wider audience.

*Current DBP Fellows

^Current LEND Fellow

**DBP Fellowship Graduates

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) LEND Core Faculty Highlights for ASD

Dr. Lauren Ethridge and Dr. Ami Bax

Dr. Lauren Ethridge, neuroscientist, and Dr. Ami Bax, developmental & behavioral pediatrician, at the OUHSC Section of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics are conducting an innovative study involving the use of EEG for comparisons of reward processing in 6-12 year old boys with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, comorbid autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, and typically-developing peers. They are hoping to gain a better understanding of the underlying neurobiologic similarities and differences among these conditions that will lead to important diagnostic and treatment recommendations.

Dr. Bonnie McBride

Dr. Bonnie McBride, LEND core faculty in ASD, presented a poster session at the Autism CARES 2017 Conference in Bethesda, Maryland on the results of a recently completed randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing a center-based, inclusive behavioral intervention model for toddlers with ASD called Project DATA for Toddlers to standard care in two states.

Including Family Voices to Improve Service Delivery to Multilingual & Underserved Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

A Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Minnesota LEND Partnership

MPS - MNLEND Team. Top L to R: Elle Chenoweth (MNLEND fellow - MPS); Cynthia Hillyer (Director of Early Childhood Education - MPS); Mariana Walther (MNLEND fellow - MPS).  Bottom L to R: (Suad Salad, Associate Educator - MPS); Nancy Gonzalez (MNLEND fellow)

The Autism Spectrum Disorder Family Voices Project is an initiative of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) that focuses on improving service delivery to multilingual and underserved young children (3-5 years) with autism spectrum disorder and their families. In the 2016-2017 school year, MPS and MNLEND launched a collaborative partnership to create an evaluation project to analyze the effectiveness of MPS services and processes for multilingual children and families who receive services in the Early Education, Special Education and Multilingual Departments. The project design included a literature review, an analysis of MPS student data, development and implementation of a family survey, analysis of survey results and recommendations for an Autism Spectrum Disorder Family Voices Project 2.0.

The project design was created by a multicultural team of LEND Fellows and MPS staff. The survey cohort included MPS multilingual families, whose children received early childhood screening, special education evaluation and an IEP under the education eligibility of autism spectrum disorder. The team reviewed each child’s student information identifying 20 Somali and 20 Latinx students who met the criteria for the cohort. From the chosen participants, 8 Somali-speaking and 10 Spanish-speaking families completed surveys.

The 3-part survey included demographic information of caregiver and child, MPS communication and information received, and services received in health, education, county and family supports. MNLEND Fellows administered the survey by phone, documenting survey responses using Google forms, with direct oversight from MPS staff. Analysis of the survey responses included review of aggregate data as well as individual responses. The chart below summarizes the survey responses.

Long description:  Graph showing research findings represented by stacked colored blocks.  In order from smallest to largest:  0 documentation of county services in student record.  1 receiving county services.  1 connection to a family support group.  3 reported child's education eligibility for Special Education is ASD.  3 students had a medical diagnosis of ASD documented in student record.  9 reported child’s education eligibility for Special Education is Speech Delay.  9 Want more information on activities to do at home to support child’s academic learning.  16 satisfied with services receive from MPS.  18 MPS staff consistently respected culture and family norms.

Almost all families reported that their culture and family norms were respected and that MPS services supported their child. Areas for improvement included communication of education eligibility, identification and documentation of access and links to health and county services, and connection to support groups. The 2017-2018 MNLEND Fellows will address the topic of timely access to services in health and human services and family supports. They will create map links to services and use person- and family-centered design theory while working with families to address gaps in services. The work will be aligned with other MPS projects underway.  The survey cohort will be expanded to include all underrepresented and underserved ethnically diverse groups with the aim of completing 50 family surveys in total.

2017-2018 Recommendations

  • MPS Autism Spectrum Disorder Family Voices Project
  • Dual Diagnosis Project - Educational and Medical
  • Establish MPS Parent to Parent Network: Cross departmental initiative
  • Partner with PACER and The Arc - Develop informal and formal parent support strategies
  • Fund ECSE Summer Evaluation
  • Develop Professional Development: Best practices in service delivery to multilingual families
  • Build buy in of senior leaders at MNLEND and MPS


Minnesota LEND & Institute on Community Integration Telehealth Projects

Dr. Simacek uses telehealth to connect with children with autism and related neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families across greater Minnesota

Service access is a barrier to the provision of high quality intervention for adults and children with developmental disabilities, including autism (ASD) and their families who reside outside of metropolitan areas. Dr. Jessica Simacek (former MNLEND fellow) and Dr. Adele Dimian (MNLEND post doc), through the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), engage in training, technical assistance, and developing research projects with the aim of improving access to intervention through telehealth (e.g., connecting over video conferencing) for people with developmental disabilities. Both Drs. Simacek and Dimian were trained and advised by MNLEND Research Director, Dr. Joe Reichle.

One key telehealth related project at ICI provides mentoring to pre- and post-doctoral and community fellows from the  Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Program (MNLEND). Exit Disclaimer MNLEND fellows receive training and mentorship to gain knowledge and experience in the use of telehealth to provide assessment and intervention. The project utilizes a train-the-trainer model, delivering in-home support services to families through coaching parents to assess and intervene to improve challenging behavior and social-communication skills. Dr. Dimian describes telehealth as “a way to support and connect families with resources who may not otherwise receive them, or who may spend long periods of time on ‘waitlists’ prior to accessing services.”

A second key telehealth related project at ICI is TelePBS. Dr. Simacek utilizes telehealth as a component of the larger Positive Behavioral Supports project, with ICI’s Dr. Rachel Freeman, to connect with and train community-based service providers on positive behavior support practices to support people with developmental disabilities.

Potential future directions for the ICI telehealth projects include collaboration with Dr. Amy Esler and the UMN’s ASD/Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NDD) Clinic Clinic to improve challenging behavior. In addition, our telehealth team hopes to develop telehealth intervention research aimed at improving social and communication skills, including augmentative and alternative communication intervention in continued collaboration with Dr. Joe Reichle. As a result of their work, their collaboration in ongoing telehealth research has also been shared via national presentations and publications intended for numerous cross-disciplinary academic communities (see details below). In sum, MNLEND fellows are helping to bring a range of telehealth options to improve service access for families in underserved and rural communities via participating in a number of innovative and interdisciplinary telehealth projects underway.

Peer-Reviewed Publications from 2017-18

Dimian, Elmquist, Reichle, & Simacek. (in press). Teaching communicative responses with a speech generating device via telehealth coaching. Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Simacek, J., Reichle, J., Byiers, B., Parker-McGowan, Q., Dimian, A.F., & Elmquist, M. (in press). Promoting conditional use of communication skills for learners with complex communication needs: A tutorial. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

Simacek, J., Pennington, B., Reichle, J., & Parker-McGowan, Q. (2017). Aided augmentative and alternative communication interventions for people with severe to profound and multiple disabilities: A review of interventions and treatment intensity. Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 1-16.

Benson, S. S., Dimian, A. F., Elmquist, M., Simacek, J., McComas, J. J., & Symons, F. J. (in press). Coaching parents to assess and treat self-injurious behavior via Telehealth. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.

Simacek, J., Dimian, A.F., & McComas, J.J. (2017). Communication intervention for young children with severe neurodevelopmental disabilities via telehealth. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 1-24. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-3006-z 

Book chapters from 2017

Reichle, J., Simacek, J., Bambara, L., & Halle, J. Teaching Alternative Skills (Chapter in preparation).

McComas, J.J., Schielz, K.M., Simacek, J., Berg, W.K., & Wacker, D.P. Functional Communication Training for Durable Behavior Change. (Chapter in press).

Reichle, J., Simacek, J., & Parker-McGowan, Q. Considerations in implementing aided low-tech AAC applications for persons with autism spectrum disorder. (Chapter in press).

National and International Referred Presentations

Simacek, J., McComas, J.J., Dimian, A.F., Pennington, B., & Reichle, J. The persistence of augmentative and alternative mands during functional communication training following fixed and variable reinforcement schedules for two children with autism. Symposium presentation accepted for presentation at the Association of Applied Behavior Analysis International. San Diego, CA, May, 2018.

Simacek, J., McComas, J.J., Dimian, A.F., Pennington, B., & Elmquist, M. Programming functional communication training for persistence: Requests during extinction following fixed and variable reinforcement schedules for two participants with autism. Poster accepted for presentation at the annual Gatlinburg conference. San Diego, CA, April, 2018.  

Gunderson, J., Simacek, J., Dimian, A.F., Reichle, J. Measurement of Responsive and Initiated Joint Attention for Two Children with Autism via Telehealth. Poster presentation accepted for presentation at Applied Behavior Analysis International. San Diego, CA. May, 2018.

*MNLEND fellows, former fellows, and faculty in bold

Minnesota LEND Fellow Project: Sensory Tents for Minneapolis Parks

Left to Right: MPRB Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Coordinator Sarah Thorson, Community Outreach Events Coordinator Erica Chua and Community Outreach and Access Coordinator/ADA Coordinator Elise Niedermeier (MNLEND fellow).

When Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB Exit Disclaimer) ADA Coordinator Elise Niedermeier (MNLEND fellow) learned of an inclusion microgrant opportunity through the National Park and Recreation Association (NPRA Exit Disclaimer), she knew immediately what project to pitch.

“We have so many loud, crowded, outdoor summer events, I thought it would be great to offer a sensory or escape tent for people to take a break,” noted Niedermeier. Through the grant award, MPRB has begun piloting sensory tents to give people with sensory processing needs a space to soothe or stimulate their senses at crowded park events.

As a MNLEND fellow, Niedermeier knew to think about this project collaboratively and across disciplines. By working with LEND faculty mentor, Ellie Wilson, now Director of the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM Exit Disclaimer), LEND parent trainees, and MPRB’s Community Outreach Event Coordinator and Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Coordinator, the project team succeeded in making events and programming more accessible.

“The connections and conversations through my participation in LEND all sparked this vision for what could be,” said Niedermeier. The tent provides materials including slime and foams, scented crayons, a mini trampoline, hammock swing, calming lights and noise-cancelling headphones - all materials suggested and selected through consultation with AuSM.

The tent will appear this summer at outdoor concerts and movies in the parks. A schedule for sensory friendly Sundays is being developed, and MPRB staff are collaborating with MNLEND alumna, Julia Anderson, at the Walker Art Center Exit Disclaimer and Twin Cities Public Television (TPT Exit Disclaimer) to share successes and learning around creating inclusive events. MPRB also is collaborating to make sure sensory-friendly event dates do not overlap, so families have many options to explore this summer.

Anyone interested in the project can contact Elise Niedermeier


logo for ACCESS Community Health NetworkHealthy Tomorrows Grantee: Access Community Health Network (ACCESS)

Summary of Grant Project
In a community on the South Side of Chicago, which consisted primarily of low income African-American residents, grew an overwhelming need to provide quality, affordable health care. The few places that did provide care did not tailor their services to meet the specific needs of this population. There was a lack of routine screenings to identify future health complications, and other health barriers, like transportation and financial stability, were not addressed. These barriers prevented residents from obtaining the health care support and services they needed. Due to the lack of access to primary and preventative health care, children in this community were also at high risk for developing long-term mental and physical health issues.

With the help of a Healthy Tomorrows grant, Access Community Health Network (ACCESS) opened the ACCESS at Gary Comer Youth Center in 2010 to ensure students and other community residents received culturally appropriate mental and primary health care. The convenience of having a health center onsite at the youth center was a great benefit for the community. Medical compliance increased to 98% in the high school and early dismissal rates fell sharply.

ACCESS’ commitment continued after the Healthy Tomorrows grant period ended in 2014 and continues even today with the health center seeing more than 700 patients a year on average. Although barriers to health are still a significant issue facing this population, the staff members at ACCESS at Gary Comer Youth Center remain committed to supporting their community and addressing the health disparities residents still face, day in and day out. 

Example of How ACCESS Helps
Randall was just 17 years old when he was displaced from his home in Iowa and moved to Chicago to live with his 24-year-old sister, Daria, who is blind in one eye. Already afflicted with her own health complications, Daria now had the added responsibility of caring for Randall. Randall came to her without health insurance nor enough clothing to keep warm during the harsh Chicago winters. Additionally, they lacked the basic funds for adequate food and transportation.

Randall’s high school contacted the staff at ACCESS at Gary Comer Youth Center, which was a resource available in part due to the Healthy Tomorrows grant. First, the ACCESS staff helped Randall and Daria sign up for health insurance. Then, they ensured Randall was up-to-date on all the required immunizations. Daria and Randall are now insured and know that the ACCESS school-based health center is always there to help them and provide support.

By placing this health center right in a school-based community in need,  more underserved children and young adults on the South Side of Chicago now have better access to health care.

ACCESS Community Health Network

photo of hand pointing at water testing strip

Members of the Leaders in Maternal and Child Health student group

MCH Catalyst Training Program Takes Step into the Great Indoors

The Florida International University (FIU) MCH Public Health Catalyst training program is in Miami, a “majority-minority” city of over 2.3 million, with the highest proportion of foreign-born persons of any US major metropolitan area.  FIU students mirror the amazing diversity of Miami, with Latino/as from throughout Latin America, African-Americans, and Caribbean young people making up most of the student body. In 2015, the Catalyst grant awarded to FIU’s Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work supported a unique program to support MPH students as MCH Scholar Consultants, who would help guide all aspects of course preparation and adaptation, and educational activities such as MCH Grand Rounds. The Grand Rounds bring together professionals from multiple disciplines from the community, including the health department, and expose our students to the diversity of professional opportunity in Miami MCH practice.  The student group, Leaders in Maternal and Child Health, now boasts over 85 members, and frequently joins with the Stempel Public Health Association on community-based service events.

Beginning in Fall 2017, the Leaders in Maternal and Child Health are undertaking their next challenge: Great Indoors. Great Indoors is a community-based participatory research project in Liberty City public housing, a historically African American community with some of the most troubling MCH indicators in the county. As part of this project, Catalyst trainees seek to assess the impact on quality of life and health of mothers and children before and after innovative integrated pest management, improved conditions in the apartments and health promotion strategies to support smoking cessation are implemented.

MCH Pipeline – Baylor and Texas Southern University’s MCH STARS Program Has Its First Undergraduate Manuscript Published!

Texas Southern University (TSU) and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) offer a joint one-year undergraduate fellowship program leading to the award of an undergraduate certificate in Maternal and Child Health (MCH). The MCH Student Training for Academic Readiness and Success (STARS) program recruits economically and educationally disadvantaged students, including students from racially and ethnically diverse groups. The program developed and implemented an effective and enriching MCH research mentoring program that meets the learning and skill development needs of the students as they navigate through the pipeline program and consider future career options in MCH-related fields. To date, four manuscripts have been submitted for review by the first cohort of 28 MCH undergraduate students. The first manuscript was recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Article: Hospital length of stay and cost burden of HIV, tuberculosis, and HIV-tuberculosis coinfection among pregnant women in the United States Exit Disclaimer

MCH Nutrition Grantees – Diversity Learning Collaborative (DLC)

In December 2014, a Diversity Learning Collaborative (DLC) for the MCH Nutrition Grantees was established.

Accomplishments of the DLC include:

  • Creation of a Diversity Recruitment and Retention Toolkit, which was disseminated to all grantees.
  • Establishment of a peer-mentoring network, which led to the establishment of subgroups of funded trainees working on policy-related projects and meeting quarterly via web-based conference calls.
  • Creation of a Cultural and Linguistic Competence Online Learning Module, which is in the final phase of revision based on feedback received by all training programs.

Michael Resnick, PhD, FSAHM, Professor Emeritus

Resnick Legacy in Adolescent Health

For almost four decades, Michael Resnick has been serving adolescents and young adults through his roles at the University of Minnesota.  Joining the UMN in 1981, Michael has held various positions during his tenure; Professor of Pediatrics, Nursing, and Public Health, the Gisela and E. Paul Konopka Chair in Adolescent Health and Development, and Director of the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health program and the Healthy Youth Development - Prevention Research Center (20 years).  He serves on the Board of Directors for the Guttmacher Institute and the Women's Foundation of Minnesota, while also serving as the 2015-2016 President of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

Dedicating his career to disseminating and translating findings into best practices and promising approaches to improving the health and well-being of adolescents and promoting excellence among those who care for young people, Michael has often been credited with helping to shape the field of adolescent health in the US and globally.  In the early 1980s, Michael directed the National Adolescent Health Resource Center (NAHRC), working with the states of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, and North Carolina to create, implement, analyze, and disseminate findings from comprehensive youth health surveys involving tens of thousands of young people.  This ground-breaking research set the stage for additional state- and national-level adolescent health surveys (the Minnesota Student Survey - MSS, and CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System) and helped implement measures focused on assessing protective factors in the lives of young people, something not explored prior.  Michael also served as the co-investigator of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), for which Michael and colleagues developed and published the first paper from this landmark national survey, one of the most frequently cited adolescent health papers in the world.

In addition to his contributions to the science of adolescent health, Michael's career also includes accomplishments in teaching, with various awards and contributions to the public good.  His teaching, advising, and mentoring styles exemplify his overall dedication to assuring that young people are regarded as whole human beings living in the context of family, peers, school, and community, not to be regarded as a simple set of risk indicators.

In retirement, with his spouse Lyn Bearinger, Michael is enjoying more time for travel, grandchildren, music, and various hobbies.  He thanks the wonderful colleagues and students who have helped to create a varied and deeply meaningful career. 

Access to the original news flash on Michael Resnick's legacy is available here. Exit Disclaimer

Dr. Courtney Byrd-Williams (left)
Dr. Joan Borst (right)

An Interview with The Maternal and Child Health Training Program

Q: What is the name of your project?
CBW: Our project is titled The Maternal and Child Health Training Program. It is a collaboration between the UTHealth School of Public Health, Austin and the Grand Valley State University, Michigan, co-directed by Dr. Joan Borst and myself (Dr. Courtney Byrd-Williams).

Q: What is your project trying to achieve? 
CBW: We aim to increase capacity in rural health workers serving maternal and child populations to address public health issues. We develop training modules on an online portal, edX, to equip rural MCH workers with crosscutting competencies. Our trainings are interdisciplinary and free of cost, and are developed keeping in mind the training needs of the MCH workforce in rural areas. A second part of the program is training students in our fellowship program in MCH Leadership skills. These fellows develop the trainings for rural health workers, and are closely guided and supported. In the process, they are learning how to identify capacities that need strengthening among a workforce and determine how to address them with training.

Q: What are the next steps for reaching rural health workers? 
CBW: We are looking to expand our reach across HRSA region VI. By building partnerships with organizations in each state, we will be able to develop new training content that serves a broader diversity of health workers. We have been working with smaller, home-visiting organizations and Community Health Workers so far, and are eager to learn about the training needs of other professional groups in clinical and health department settings over the coming year.

Q: What community partners are involved in your MCH Training Program?
CBW: The success of our program stems from our broad range of collaborations and partnerships. We have community partners such as Texas Public Health Training Center; Healthy Start in Dallas (TX), Hugo (OK), and Lafayette (LA); Go Austin, Vamos Austin; and the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living. All of our collaborators have been very helpful in supporting the first round of trainings. Of course, other organizations have also participated in our trainings and we are always looking to expand our partnerships.

Video still of woman, Cynthia Rodriguez, Physical Activity Organizer, GO! Austin / VAMOS! Austin (GAVA)

A still from a video in our Community Engagement Training from an experienced community organizer working with diverse populations.

Q: What is your process for developing trainings and evaluating them?
CBW: Once a training topic is determined with a partner, we develop a curriculum committee to discuss the contents of the training and develop a plan. We research, develop, and revise internally. When the content is finalized, we send the training to content experts. The curriculum committee members and others in the community run through the training and provide thorough feedback. We talk with the curriculum committee about edits and then revise. Then, the training goes to the Texas Department of State Health Services for their review process and certification. We have not started evaluating learning outcomes yet, but plans are in the works and we do have some data to begin examining!

Q: What does your fellowship program include? 
JB: The MCH Leadership seminar is aimed at teaching through faculty and guest lectures, readings, and learning modules created by fellows to train public health clinic staff. Women and children are consistently some of the most vulnerable in the world in terms of poverty, lack of education, weak human rights and abusive or absent policies. As part of an educator team, we try to build a platform for discussion regarding the lifespan of development as well as many of the above outlined issues, ultimately hoping to empower students to engage meaningfully with the MCH community, both personally and professionally.

In this program, we train fellows from various healthcare fields and prepare them to become a valuable part of the rural MCH workforce. Our fellows are from diverse professional backgrounds and bring a plethora of skills and knowledge to this program from their varied experiences. The development of these learning modules has also been of great benefit to the fellows as they research and think creatively about the best ways to share information online. The creativity at every level of the project has been delightful to be a part of and observe.

Video still of woman, Estrella de Leon, GEO Team Organizer, GO! Austin / VAMOS! Austin (GAVA)

A still from a video in our Cultural Competence Training from an experienced community organizer working with diverse populations.

Q: Why interdisciplinary training for rural health workers and fellows?
JB: The grant is inter-professional in nature. Social work and public health drive the curriculum, but in reality, the best efforts we can make for women and children will come from disciplines working together for the benefit of women and children. Sharing professional knowledge across disciplines benefits all.

As I mentioned earlier, the reality of public health and social interventions to teach, support and lift up the needs of women and children’s health cannot be accomplished by one profession. It is important that we learn about what other professions do so that we can refer appropriately, respect the efforts of our colleagues from other professions, and strengthen our efforts through better planning. Inter-professional training efforts reduce the barriers of reaching out to other professionals and strengthen the efforts we make on behalf of the MCH community.

Q: Tell us about how the GVSU and UTHealth partnership has benefited the program.
JB: The MCH Training grant has a couple of distinct benefits for educating our students. Since both these universities differ geographically and demographically, there is a unique contribution from each, which adds to the versatility and broad-ranging application of our trainings in the real world. Although we learn about differences through this wider geographic lens, we also see what women and children have in common, despite geography--a desire for healthy and safe bodies, healthy and nurtured babies and children, resources to answer questions, and support for potential problems.

Finally, completion of the fellowship aspect of this training grant has benefited students in their job-seeking efforts. Agencies and clinics are looking for professionals who come prepared to think critically about programming and services to the MCH populations.

Q: Has the project experienced challenges/anything that was not anticipated?
CBW: There isn’t a well-developed infrastructure in rural areas in terms of public health and that makes it difficult to assess the needs of the MCH workers in these areas. We need to find new ways to get the word out to organizations that we will work with them to develop tailored training content.
JB: This project has grown significantly in the past 2 years, adding new complexity to our team’s operations. Although we experienced technological challenges initially, the work has moved forward more rapidly in the last 12 months with the creation of online modules that bring “the classroom” to the clinic workers.

Q: Anything you'd like to add?
JB: While we often face challenges with respect to setting up lectures and meetings across two different states and time zones, it is well worth the efforts we all make to find a way to connect Texas and Michigan. Students and faculty greatly benefit by contributing and hopefully find the environment a safe one where they can challenge their misunderstandings and examine their perspectives. I look forward to the coming academic year!

Dr. Courtney Byrd-Williams
Assistant Professor
UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin MCH Training Grant Co-Director

Dr. Joan Borst Professor Grand Valley State University MCH Training Grant Co-Director

MCH Train-A-Bull Program Welcomes Inaugural Cohort of Undergrad Scholars

MCH Train-a-Bull USF Maternal and Child Health Pipeline Training ProgramTwelve undergraduate students from various colleges across the University of South Florida (USF) have been accepted into a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Pipeline Training Program, known as MCH Train-A-Bull, at the USF College of Public Health's Department of Community and Family Health (CFH).

The two-year program provides mentorship, training, and guidance for underrepresented undergraduate students from economically, educationally disadvantaged, and diverse backgrounds.

Funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau within the Health Resources and Services Administration, the program aims to increase the diversity of the MCH workforce by supporting scholars who seek graduate training in MCH and health-related fields.

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from left, Burke Eilers, YFS Counseling Center Director; Amanda Hermsen, IFSP Coordinator; Bob Burke, IFSP Family Coach.

Intensive Family Services Program at Youth & Family Services, Inc. - One Family, One Team, One Plan

The Intensive Family Services Program (IFSP) at Youth & Family Services, Inc. (YFS) provides comprehensive, coordinated, individualized services for children and their families. IFSP targets families whose children are at risk for out-of-home placement—whether through the juvenile justice system or residential drug/alcohol treatment facilities—due to behavioral health issues. A majority of the children served come from low-income and/or American Indian families. Principal goals of the program are to increase family functioning, improve individual family members’ overall health and well-being, and provide a cost-effective alternative to the community and state.

IFSP is a community-based initiative first piloted in 2014 in the Rapid City area. The program developed from a focus on community mental health needs by the grassroots Rapid City Systems of Care Collaborative (SOCC) and implemented by YFS. IFSP staff, families, and youth work in partnership with informal supports, schools, mental health centers, psychiatric treatment programs, social service agencies, juvenile justice programs, and primary health care organizations to design services that are coordinated, individualized, community-based, and youth and family-driven. A central core of service provision is the IFSP Team, which works toward the goal of “One Family, One Team, One Plan.” A team is organized based on the individual needs of each family and typically meets once per week with family members and their support system until a plan is in place and the family is successfully working toward their goals. The Team meets with the family to discuss wraparound services that build on increasing the strengths of individuals, nurture their healthy growth, and address each person’s cultural and linguistic needs.

IFSP is establishing new relationships with the South Dakota Title V Office of Maternal-Child Health/Child & Family Services, local membership of the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Community Health Center of the Black Hills. IFSP contracts with an external evaluator who is working closely with program staff to employ assessments that explore improvement in child behaviors, parent stress, and family functioning. The evaluator is also tracking increased access to medical, dental, and mental health homes. The evaluation will include a cost-benefit analysis comparing out-of-home placement with the program.

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The Ohio AAP – Injury Prevention Quality Improvement Programs

3 Ways to Transform Your Practice.  Ask me how!  Collaborative Learning. Practice Coaching. On-demand Learning.  American Academy of PediatricsThe Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics offers Quality Improvement programs to pediatricians that improve performance and outcomes for children, and many of these programs have been possible thanks to the support of a Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children grant that began in 2013. Since that time, the Ohio AAP has used the successful Injury Prevention Learning Collaborative as a model to develop other injury prevention QI programs, offered in a variety of methods and settings.

  1. Injury Prevention/Safe Sleep Learning Collaborative in Primary Care: The original Ohio AAP injury screening tool and program, which has been transitioned to a self-directed, online format after 3 successful waves, is available nationally. This innovative tool screens for the most common causes of morbidity and mortality in infants, allowing physicians to target discussions to areas of most need. The program has demonstrated positive behavior changes in families, and the screening tool has been found to be reliable.
  2. Education and Sleep Environment (EASE) Learning Collaborative in the Hospital Setting: To address safe sleep modeling in the hospital setting, the Ohio AAP also launched the EASE learning collaborative; this QI project has shown statistically significant increases in the number of infants observed in safe sleep environments in participating hospitals. Also available as a self-directed online QI program nationally, the results of the first wave of EASE were published in Pediatrics in October 2016.
  3. Injury Prevention Plus SEEK Learning Collaborative: In July 2017, the Ohio AAP launched the latest QI program focusing on injury prevention in Ohio. The Injury+SEEK program is being piloted in practices in Ohio through September 2018, and combines the Ohio AAP’s tested screening tool with the nationally recognized SEEK tool. The hybrid is a comprehensive screening tool that address risks for both intentional and unintentional injuries in children birth to 5 years of age.

For more information on the Ohio AAP’s Injury Prevention Quality Improvement programs, contact Hayley Southworth at or visit Exit Disclaimer

LEND Program Quality Improvement Network

The goal of the LEND Program Quality Improvement (LPQI) Network is to help individual programs improve the quality of LEND training in core competencies (e.g. family-centered care, interprofessional teaming) by: (1) using standardized measurement tools, (2) developing a voluntary inter-institutional database, (3) providing feedback to programs to use for quality improvement, and (4) identifying programs that demonstrate changes consistent with “best practices.”  The effort began in 2013 with the creation of appropriate measures and the design of a web-based data entry system. Each stage of development has been pilot-tested and, to date, has included the input of 21 LEND programs.

This past year, 11 LEND programs successfully completed beta-testing of a fully functional data entry system that also enables administrators to run visual data reports – comparing their results to national averages across years, disciplines, and other variables. We also presented data at a national meeting to help demonstrate the validity of the measures, and a manuscript has been submitted to the Journal of Graduate Medical Education for publication. In July 2017, the LPQI Network was opened to all LEND programs for use during the 2017-18 training year; leadership for the Network has been transferred from the Mailman Center (FL LEND) to AUCD. LEND programs that choose to participate can use their LPQI data reports to determine areas for improvement, devise and implement quality improvement plans, and measure outcomes in subsequent years.

The LPQI data dashboard and Network coordination activities are technical assistance tools offered by AUCD to LEND programs. It is not endorsed by or required by MCHB.

Robert B. Noll, PhD

LEND Outcomes Study Update

The LEND Outcomes Study is designed to compare outcomes for professionals or advocates with an interest in pediatrics who received formal LEND training to others from their graduate program or community with similar pediatric interests but no LEND training. The model is inclusive of family and self-advocates. Our fundamental question: Do responses to the 14 questions on the NIRS Graduate Survey (a survey specific to LEND grantees) differentiate LEND graduates from peers with similar pediatric interests who have not received LEND training? One supplementary question: Does participation in the LEND Outcomes Study improve NIRS survey participation rates for LEND graduates?

The LEND Outcomes Study began in 2014/2015 in Pittsburgh. While the initial plan was to demonstrate feasibility at one site, the LEND of Pittsburgh was joined in year 1 by the Nisonger and Waismann Centers. These 3 programs will be starting year 4 of their work this fall. In addition to this core group of 3 participating LEND programs, we have been joined by 7 additional sites (UC, UCONN, IOWA, KANSAS, ROCHESTER, TEXAS, and VERMONT)—10 total sites participating. Current efforts are focused on dissemination of the outcomes model to additional LEND programs and developing supplemental questions that can be used along with the NIRS Graduate Survey to measure the effects of LEND training. Feedback from other LEND centers has suggested that the primary challenge faced by this outcomes evaluation is a shortage of resources to implement the project and sustain the work. Issues related to institutional review boards (IRB) have also been raised. The three initial sites are in the process of developing a set of open and closed ended questions that can be asked of LEND graduates and comparison peers from 2014/2015 to supplement NIRS and demonstrate proof of concept.

Healthy Tomorrows Grantee, Clinic in the Park

Healthy Tomorrows grantee, Clinic in the Park in Santa Ana, CA, recently was selected as a poster winner at the 2017 Practical Playbook National Meeting for their poster entitled “Clinic in the Park: A One-Stop-Shop Model Bridging Medicine to Public Health.”

View or download the PDF here. Exit Disclaimer

Making Lifelong Connections 2017

Children’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaCurrent and former trainees from Maternal and Child Health Bureau funded training programs met on April 5-7, 2017 in Seattle, Washington for the seventh annual Making Lifelong Connections meeting. The Making Lifelong Connections meeting brings together trainees in an interdisciplinary setting with the specific intent of enhancing networking and leadership skills, and providing professional development beyond the boundaries of a specific training grant setting. These activities provide reinforcement to the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Competencies and provide a real-world application of leadership skills for trainees as they prepare to enter the MCH workforce, and for former trainees in the early stages of their careers.

OKLEND - A Seminar that Explores Inter-Child Issues As Well As Interdisciplinary Aspects

Mark Wolraich, M.D.

OKLEND discussion group

Each year we have a combined seminar between our OKLEND program and the Interdisciplinary Training Program in Child Abuse and Neglect (ITP). Both training programs have an interdisciplinary focus but are different in the team members and focus. The ITP includes psychologist students and interns, social worker students, occasionally PT and OT students, and law students. The OKLEND consists of all the LEND disciplines including the family member and self-advocate. The faculty from both programs also participate. The seminar is trainee led and it includes readings and videotape presentations by the program directors (Mark Wolraich, M.D. OKLEND and Barbara Bonner, Ph.D. ITP) that the trainees are expected to read and listen to prior to the seminar. During the seminar, the trainees are expected to ask questions to Drs. Bonner and Wolraich about their presentations. They are also clustered into 4- to 6-person groups, mixing trainees from both programs. They work together to respond to questions about a theoretical case that includes both disability and abuse issues. The trainees are able to experience the differences both across disciplines and across systems, which have a different focus on child issues. We have now held the seminar for 12 years and it has provided an opportunity to explore similarities and differences, not only across disciplines but across different aspects of child services.

Healthy Tomorrows Hawaii

The Connections for Health: Integrated Group and Community Services for Kalihi Valley Keiki and Ohana, also known as "Healthy Tomorrows Hawaii", is a Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program grantee in Honolulu, Hawaii coordinated by Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (KKV), a Federally Qualified Health Center. "Healthy Tomorrows Hawaii" engages families in culturally appropriate ways in clinical and community settings, offering services in environments that are welcoming and engaging for families. The program is featured in the May 2017 e-newsletter of the National Center for Medical Home Implementation.

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Community Health Center, Inc. of New Britain, CT

Healthy Tomorrows grantee, Community Health Center, Inc. of New Britain, CT, recently had a book chapter published in Practical Research with Children. The work of the "House of Teens: A Center for Health Promotion and Youth Advocacy for New Britain Teens” is described in Chapter 8: Qualitative research with a ‘Double Life’: A mixed methods approach to research and advocacy with adolescents (Jayme Hannay, Robert Dudley, Stephanie Milan, Paula Kellogg Leibovitz, & Valerie L. Rodino). In the chapter, the authors cite the Healthy Tomorrows project and make the point that, with a community-based participatory research framework, an intervention with teens can contribute to a sound research methodology.

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NH-ME LEND Selected to Participate in MCH Diversity & Health Equity Peer Learning Collaborative

The New Hampshire-Maine Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (NH-ME LEND) Program was recently selected to participate in the 2017 Diversity & Health Equity Peer Learning Collaborative, supported by the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Bureau, Division of MCH Workforce Development. Read more at AUCD. Exit Disclaimer

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) LEND

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia This Autism Awareness Month the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) LEND is celebrating the success of its advocacy efforts in New Jersey. Five years ago, the fellows and faculty took on an important advocacy project to help families in New Jersey with Autism transition services. It started from a community project one of the LEND faculty members proposed. Living in New Jersey with a child with Autism who was getting older, she was hearing from other parents in the community that the transition services in New Jersey were scarce. That year, the CHOP LEND faculty decided they were going to help in this advocacy effort and offered a community project that would energize and train this parent community. Three fellows in the cohort helped organize community meetings to train the families to advocate and work with other community groups to bring Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) transition to the attention of local lawmakers.

Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt and Assemblyman Louis Greenwald representing Camden County heard this community and wanted to champion this effort. They brought together a group of community stakeholders, including families who were trained through the LEND project. In addition, after attending the Disability Policy Seminar and learning how to advocate with lawmakers, Jonathan Kratchman, the LEND faculty member’s son, decided he was interested in politics and was able to secure a supported internship with Assemblywoman Lampitt and Assemblyman Greenwald’s office where he became familiar with the work they did, and their staff got to see first-hand the benefits of utilizing job coaches for people with ASD. Jonathan also brought to their attention the fact that some New Jersey colleges and universities have Autism Support Programs but there were very limited funds to support them.

After hearing from Jonathan and others in their constituent community, the lawmakers convened a roundtable of post-secondary programs in New Jersey to hear about the barriers they were facing and what supports they would need to help more New Jersey residents with ASD who were aging out of the school system. Last year, they introduced Bill A3432 to the State Assembly and S1825 to the State Senate to create a taskforce, which would identify barriers young adults with ASD have in New Jersey in accessing transportation, post-secondary programs, vocational opportunities and other needs within the transition age Autism community. Just last month the bill unanimously passed the State Assembly and Senate and is on its way to the Governor to be signed.

LEND teaches fellows a very important fact that they carry with them throughout their practice, which is “nothing about us without us.” This message was sent to Assemblyman Greenwald and Assemblywoman Lampitt as they were writing the Bill. As a result, there will be an appointed position on the task force for a young adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder, clearly demonstrating that this is an important and necessary voice to have at the table.

Kennedy Krieger LEND

Kennedy Krieger InstituteThe Kennedy Krieger LEND sponsored a continuing education course on Autism, March 20-22, 2017. This interdisciplinary course was planned by representatives from 4 LEND programs and was attended by approximately 300 professionals. Speakers addressed issues in identification, diagnosis, and management and represented the disciplines of education, epidemiology, genetics, neurology, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, and speech and language. Some of the talks presented included, “The Case for Universal Targeted Screening for Autism” by Daniel Coury, MD, “Early Identification, How Early is Early?”, “Children who ‘Outgrew’ their Autism, Successful Intervention, Maturation or Misdiagnosis?” by Catherine Lord, PhD, “Food Selectivity, Restrictive Diets, and Supplements” by Eric Levey,MD , “Sleep Disorders: Interdisciplinary Management ” by Jennifer Accardo, MD, “Treatment Approaches for Preschoolers with ASD” by Samuel Odom, PhD ,”Meeting the Challenges of Middle School” by Jill Locke, PhD, CCC-SLP, “Transitional Issues, A Practical Approach” by Deepa Menon, MD.