Linda H. Southward, Ph.D.
Research Fellow & Research Professor, SSRC, Mississippi State University
Coordinator, Family & Children Research Unit
Research Scientist, Mississippi Health Policy Research Center
Coordinator, Mississippi KIDS COUNT Program
Ph.D., ACSW, Social Work, University of Alabama
Phone: (662) 325-0851
An associate of the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) since 1995 and Coordinator of the Family and Children Research Unit (FCRU) since 1998, Dr. Linda Southward has long championed the well-being of children and families through education, research, and outreach. At the helm of the FCRU, a division of the SSRC, Dr. Southward has served as a visionary and facilitator for numerous alliances in the interest of children and the citizens of Mississippi. Most recently, the FCRU was named the grantee for MS KIDS COUNT project, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Dr. Southward serves as the Project’s Director. Dr. Southward was a co-editor of About Children: An Authoritative Resource on the Status of Childhood Today, featured as one of three books for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 75th anniversary (2004-2005). In another collaboration with the CCHR of AAP, Dr. Southward has provided leadership in establishing the Health, Early Education and Child Care Consortium; has led two multi-state surveys of child care directors and most recently a national survey of licensed child care center directors. Establishing this national database (n=97,000) of licensed child care centers will enable the investigation of systemic and pervasive child care research issues and provide answers that may serve to improve the health and well-being of young children within child care settings nationwide. Most recently, collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, this database is being used to assess the level of child care directors’ knowledge regarding the possibility of a pandemic flu outbreak.
Dr. Southward is currently the Project Director of a HRSA funded, Child Health and Well-Being Research Project, involving 18 MS Delta Counties through the MS Delta Health Alliance. Beginning January 1, 2007, Dr. Southward also serves as Coordinator of the MS KIDS COUNT program. Through this effort, the first ever Mississippi KIDS COUNT Summit was held in January, 2008 in concert with the release of Mississippi’s 2007 KIDS COUNT DataBook (http://www.ssrc.msstate/mskidscount). Other current projects include evaluation of the North Mississippi Health Services HealthWorks! an interactive children’s health museum in Tupelo, MS and a project on children’s oral health with the MS Chapter of AAP.
She has recently completed a National Institutes of Health-funded project with the University of Arizona, titled Clean Air, Rewarding Environments. This project involved a two-year feasibility study of an environmental tobacco smoke intervention program in four rural Mississippi Head Start centers. She also served as Principal Investigator in a five-year, Agency for Health Care Research and Quality-funded study to determine the feasibility of developing a comprehensive, multi-modal intervention to prevent and/or reduce dental caries and related dental problems of preschool children through a network of child care centers within 12 Mississippi Delta counties. In addition, Dr. Southward received funding through the Rural Health Safety & Security Institute as a Principal Investigator for a national survey entitled, Social Climate of Early Child Health and Well-being.
In Summer, 2004 Dr. Southward was selected as Fulbright-Hayes Scholars for a seminar in South Africa entitled, Women, Family and Social Change in South Africa. Prior to her full-time appointment at the SSRC, she chaired MSU’s Social Work Program and coordinated efforts, in establishing an accredited BSW program through the Council on Social Work Education. The recipient of numerous social work and education awards, Dr. Southward has served on many boards and organizations and was the Past President of the Mississippi Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. In 1999, Dr. Southward was selected by the AAP’s Center for Child Health Research as one of 50 new leaders in child health.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Southward published several immediate-response documents, providing needed information regarding the status and needs of children in Mississippi. She conducted a statewide Mississippi Emergency Temporary Shelter Survey to gauge children’s location and needs, and, in conjunction with the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians, supervised the creation and dissemination of a Mental Health Screening and Referral Kit for physicians and child care professionals. Dr. Southward also assisted in donations nationwide to fulfill the needs, as listed with the state AAP chapter, of Mississippi physicians treating children and coordinated with the AAP, a regional 150 Days Post-Katrina Summit (Winter, 2006) in New Orleans, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi to determine unmet and on-going health needs of children within the region.
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