Funded Projects

Grant Status: Completed

Training Category: MCH Public Health Catalyst Program

Grant Title: Mothers and Children FIRST! Fresh Ideas & Resources for Scholar Training

Web Site: Florida International University Project Exit Disclaimer

Project Director(s):

Melissa Howard, PhD, MPH, MCHES
Assistant Professor
Florida International University
11200 SW 8th Street
AHC 5-414
Miami, FL  33199
Phone: 305-348-6583


Since 2007, before the start of the nationwide recession, poverty surged in Miami- Dade County (Miami) disproportionately impacting women and children of color. The infant mortality racial gap widened and by 2011-2013 was 3.4 times higher in African-Americans than Whites. Significant increases in HIV vertical transmission and childhood asthma exclusively affected African-Americans in poorest communities.

Goals and Objectives:

Our goal is to eliminate three health disparities by strengthening the MDC workforce capacity. By 2020 we hope to have prepared and engaged >30 MCH women, youth and families (WYF) concentration/certificate MPH graduates to reduce racial and ethnic disparities: [1] by >30% (fetal and infant mortality), and by >50% ([2] HIV in women, infants and youth and [3]) persistent childhood asthma) by building capacity in non-traditional scholar consultants already working in MCH who will acquire and use new skills in their work.


We propose to: create MCH/WYF (including field and online) coursework for a subspecialty and concentration focused on the three critical disparities; recruit and enroll >20 personal and public health professionals as scholar-consultants and 10-20 other MPH students, incentivizing enrollment and collaborating with them in program refinement to tailor it to Miami MCH practice and; mentor these future mentors to build capacity in others. We will use for baselines Miami 2014-2015 vital statistics, Youth Risk and other behavior and disease surveillance systems, and asthma hospitalization, ER visit and absenteeism data, measuring progress towards recruitment and retention (>90%), and process and outcome objectives (reduction in the disparities).


We will work with Florida Dept. of Health/Miami, Miami Children's Initiative, Healthy Start, WIC and others with whom we have ongoing collaborations for public health practice, research and training through existing partnerships. Our unique structure (our CEPH-accredited Public Health and our Nutrition and Social Work programs are organizationally part of the same entity) streamlines multidisciplinary coordination in Mothers and Children FIRST.


We will refine baselines, articulate objectives and benchmarks to assess progress towards our program (creation of an MCH WCF subspecialty and concentration) and MCH disparity objectives. Process objectives will include measures of: skill incorporation into professional practice; progress by scholar-consultants, other students and FIU staff; community member participation in activities key to achieving disparity elimination and; program acceptability sustainability and effectiveness in improving MCH practice and results. Quarterly measures of progress towards defined benchmarks will include self- and program assessments and interim measures of progress. Evaluation will be designed for measurement of progress towards objectives by Mothers & Children FIRST staff with expert consultation using our indicators and quantitative and qualitative anonymous and identifiable data analyses and documenting progress in reports.