A Healthier Wisconsin


Exploring the key drivers of health disparities related to early childhood development to enable children to thrive

Full Project Name:Research in Early Child Development to Improve Resiliency and Equity (REDIRECT)Principal Investigator:John Meurer, MD, MBA, Institute for Health & EquityCo-Investigator:Laura Cassidy, MS, PhD, Institute for Health and Equity; Staci Young, PhD, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$5,000,000.00
Award Date
Project Duration:70 months

Project Description Narrative:

In urban Milwaukee, nearly 43% of children under 18 live in poverty. Milwaukee?s homelessness rate increased by 13% between 2007 and 2009. The vast majority of homeless individuals in Milwaukee county are African-American (61%) and 23% are single parents with children under 18 years old. Impoverished children often live in violent neighborhoods, do not have access to healthy foods, and are disproportionately affected by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Research has linked child ACEs to a broad range of long-term health problems. In the city of Milwaukee, 31% of children have two or more ACEs. An urgent opportunity exists in urban Milwaukee to address health disparities, adverse childhood experiences, and resiliency to develop models, measurable interventions and policies to improve early childhood development for youth in a high-poverty, racially segregated urban environment.

This project aims to improve the wellbeing of children in Milwaukee through sophisticated analyses of novel data and qualitative exploration of the key drivers of health disparities related to early childhood development to create a better understanding of the complex interplay between individual, family, community and strengths-based factors to overcome adversity and enable children to thrive.

Project Updates:

  • Continued to learn from partnerships, data sharing, data analyses, focus groups, and interviews about root causes and factors that affect early childhood development in Wisconsin
  • The subaward, "School Intervention Tools to Prepare Preschool Children with Heart Disease for Academic Success," was conducted to identify school health and learning concerns for children with heart disease and to implement early interventions at the beginning of a child's school career to prevent larger learning gaps over time
  • The subaward, "Creating Early Childhood Data Standards," was designed as a foundational project to increase capacity and knowledge related to sharing data and information in early childhood interventions, which are often overlooked
  • The subaward, "Project LEAP: Leveraging Early Achievement in Preschoolers with Heart Disease during COVID-19" evaluated the effectiveness of a novel hospital-based school intervention protocol designed to improve achievement, narrow performance gaps, and prevent long-term negative educational consequences in preschoolers who learn at home
  • The subaward, "Investigating Resiliency in Early-childhood to Adolescence Links: Protective & Risk Factors (I-REAL)" developed a process to integrate data across data sources at the individual level with a focus on Early Childhood Education (ECE) data

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350