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
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:

• Successfully hired and trained project staff

• Compiled and linked data from birth certificates (Milwaukee Health Department) and Kindergarten/3rd grade test scores (Milwaukee Public Schools), launching initial data analyses

• Obtained approval from Children?s Hospital of Wisconsin to study the association of Children?s Medical Group preventive visits, ASQ-3 screenings, concerning results, and referrals to Birth to 3 to patient and provider group characteristics

• Conducted initial dissemination efforts, including submission of papers and oral presentations

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