The FCRU has implemented a number of studies and projects to improve the health, safety, and well-being of children:
Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE)
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides meal and snack reimbursements for childcare centers, which enable centers to provide nutritious foods for children who may face hunger and food insecurity at home. To explore the context of this federal program in Mississippi, the FCRU staff is conducting an in-depth process analysis of food environments in childcare centers and homes within one Mississippi Delta county. This analysis will focus on how food environments contribute to children’s health outcomes and what role CACFP plays in these outcomes, especially those related to body mass index. This project is funded by the USDA through the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Pandemic Flu: National Survey of Licensed Child Care Directors
This project involves a national needs assessment of licensed child care centers and will be used to guide future planning and resource development regarding child care preparation for seasonal/pandemic influenza. The needs assessment will be based on data collected from a SSRC telephone survey of 1,500 randomly selected child care centers from a national database of more than 92,000 centers compiled by the FCRU. Results from this survey will be reviewed and summarized to determine the extent to which the child care community is prepared to respond to an infectious outbreak of pandemic influenza. This project is funded by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
MS AAP Oral Health Project
The Pediatric Oral Health Project was established with a grant from the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation to the MS Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. The MS Chapter AAP entered a partnership with the Social Science Research Center to develop a document that details the oral health status of young children in the Mississippi Delta, mapping of current pediatricians and pediatric dentists in the Delta, and other related data.
Mississippi Community-based Animal Assessment Pilot Study
This study is a collaboration of the FCRU and the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine and involves several phases. In the first phase, key experts on pet overpopulation identified community-level project partners and developed community interview questions. For the second phase, community interviews in two Mississippi communities were conducted. Currently we are working with one of these communities on implementation of pet friendly community based programs. Future efforts will expand this to additional communities in Mississippi, and in addition, implement research on what programs and practices are most successful to increase spay/neuter rates, reduce pet overpopulation and ultimately eliminate the euthanasia of healthy, treatable pets in shelters in the communities.
Mississippi Delta Child Health and Well-being Research Program
This project, funded by HRSA through the Delta Health Alliance (2006-08), organized a network of child care professionals in order to gather information on children’s health in the Mississippi Delta. An assessment of Delta child care directors and parents explored a variety of health concerns, including children’s oral health, obesity and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in order to establish baseline data for future studies and longitudinal interventions.
Safe Havens Training Project
Family Communications, the producer of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, sponsored the Safe Havens Training Project, which was locally implemented by the FCRU. This project was designed to give caregivers the support they needed to create safety for children who have witnessed violence. Family Communications creates a wide range of materials dedicated to children and families.
Social Climate Survey of Early Child Health and Well-being
FCRU scientists, along with the Wright State University Department of Pediatrics, conducted this survey, which measured the knowledge and attitudes of women nationwide regarding child health. This survey resulted in an Ambulatory Pediatrics publication entitled “The Co-occurrence of Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Smoking in a National Survey of Mothers.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Center for Child Health Research (CCHR) and the FCRU partnered to form the Collaborating Centers for Child and Family Health Research. As a part of its 75th anniversary celebration, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a product of the Collaborating Centers—a book containing the knowledge of over 60 of the nation’s leading experts on children entitled, About Children: An Authoritative Resource on the State of Childhood Today.
A key focus of the FCRU has been the exploration of new venues, primarily early education and child care centers, for conducting child health research and interventions with traditionally difficult-to-access populations. It is hoped that, through the use of new venues and approaches, a more uniform distribution of child health resources may be achieved, and children and families most in need will gain access to treatments and information that may positively affect children’s developmental trajectories and provide lifelong benefits. Several studies have been predicated on this objective:
Mississippi Building Research Infrastructure Capacity (MSBRIC)
MSBRIC (2001-06) is an example of using child care centers as research/intervention venues. The goal of this project was to identify best practices for prevention of dental disease by working with child care centers in the Mississippi Delta. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality sponsored this project. Several state and national leaders in pediatric dentistry from institutions such as Columbia, UCLA, the Children’s Dental Health Project, and University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry served as FCRU consultants. Results from the first and second phases of this study have been translated into journal articles in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.
Child Care Center Director Study
This five-state study of early education and child care directors (2004) obtained their perspectives on health issues affecting young children and explored their interest in participating in a national network of child care centers. The Health, Early Education, and Child Care Consortium of the American Academy of Pediatrics Center for Child Health Research collaborated with FCRU staff and scientists in the construction and implementation of this project, as well as the presentation of the survey data. This study resulted in several conference posters and presentations at meetings of the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Head Start, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Research in Early Care and Education Settings
This project (2004-05), sponsored by the Center for Rural Childhood Learning Initiatives, involved the analysis of data from the five-state child care director survey, designing a national network of child care centers, and determining the feasibility of conducting research in child care venues. From these analyses, a Chartbook entitled, Early Education and Child Care Directors’ Perspectives of Children’s Health and Well-Being: A Multi-State Survey was compiled.
Clean Air, Rewarding Environment (CARE) Project
This National Institutes of Health (NIH) study (2005), conducted with the University of Arizona, involved a feasibility study of an environmental tobacco smoke intervention program in four Mississippi Head Start centers. Children were tested for secondhand smoke exposure prior to the intervention and again afterwards. This project made strides in discovering key components involved in effectively conducting research in child care venues.
After Hurricane Katrina, the FCRU released a number of press releases regarding the impact of the storm on Mississippi’s children and conducted a shelter survey to determine children’s most immediate needs after the disaster. The FCRU, in conjunction with the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians, also compiled several materials to create a Mental Health Checklist for pediatricians to employ when examining patients after the storm. This packet was distributed throughout the state and released in the Clarion Ledger.
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