1. MCH Workforce Development
  2. Funded Projects

Funded Projects

Mothers and Children FIRST: Training for Transformation 2025 (M&C FIRST: T4T 2025)

Project Website

Grant Status: Active

Training Category: Maternal and Child Health Public Health Catalyst Program

Project Director(s):

Melissa Howard, PhD, MPH, MCHES
Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work
Florida International University
11200 SW 8th Street
AHC 5-414
Miami, FL  33199
Phone: (305) 348-6583


Among the most important disparities in US public health are in MCH including infant and maternal mortality, stillbirth, prematurity and chronic conditions disproportionately impacting women and children of color. MCH populations in South Florida are growing in number and diversity, yet numbers of racially and ethnically diverse MCH public health professionals are declining. Miami-Dade County (MDC), and its public university, Florida International University (FIU), are "minority-majority"; most of the county population is US or foreign-born Hispanic and/or African American. Our work to date suggests the need, readiness and desire in MDC for programs and resources to recruit, train and build capacity in MCH, where we have growing challenges. This project serves to recruit graduate-level MCH trainees from underrepresented groups, expand FIU's existing MCH training program and strengthen practicum experiences to support the MCH workforce and integrate our graduates as leaders in MDC MCH practice.

Goals and Objectives:

This project seeks to strengthen collaborations with key community partners, focusing on integrating our graduates as leaders in MDC MCH practice. Our Catalyst Program has already developed an MCH concentration and a certificate, a thriving student interest group, and a transdisciplinary continuing education program. We built linkages among the FIU MCH interest club, other students and faculty, and provided research opportunities in MCH.

We currently propose to:

  1. Recruit and graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to M&C FIRST: T4T 2025,
  2. Maintain an active MCH student interest group,
  3. Enhance MCH coursework to meet the needs of students, MCH organizations and Title V partners,
  4. Expand practicum experiences to complement our foundational courses based on a needs assessment of the MCH workforce/Title V Partners and informed by the MCH Leadership Competencies, and
  5. Provide professional opportunities for increasing numbers of graduates to work in MCH locally or nationally.


We propose to build on our 2015-20 Catalyst program to recruit and graduate underrepresented students, incentivizing with scholarships for MCH concentration coursework and practicum experiences. Practice-Fellows will be placed in partner agencies that address critical MCH disparities. We will provide infrastructure to strengthen capacity in our MCH partner agencies, allowing our trainees to engage in community-based MCH practice and research. We will place graduates in critically needed MCH positions by engaging our community partners in professional preparation and career development activities. We will work with Healthy Start, WIC, Nurse Family Partnership, Citrus Health Network MCH Center and others with whom we have ongoing collaborations for public health practice, research and training.


After refining baselines of partner agency capacity and diversity based on collaborative needs assessments, we will refine and finalize objectives and benchmarks to assess progress towards our program goals. Outcome objectives will include measures of skill incorporation into practice, number of Fellows placed in MCH practicums and careers in MCH in partner agencies, and products of collaborative MCH research with our partners.