Grants Office Update: October/November 2020

Principal Investigator: Stephen Bagnato
Department: Health and Human Development
Project Title: LEND Center Interdisciplinary Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Leadership Education Grant
Agency Name: US Department of Health & Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Award Dates: 7/1/20 – 6/30/21 
Amount: $29,401

Since 1995, The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have been awarded grants by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources Service Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau to support UCLID-LEND Disabilities Institute federal training grant on interdisciplinary leadership education of allied health professionals to train future leaders in serving individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families in both urban and rural settings.  

Dr. Stephen J. Bagnato, Professor of Psychology & Pediatrics (HHD; Applied Developmental Psychology) is one of the founding core faculty members of the LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) grant.  The LEND at Pittsburgh is one of 53 such neurodevelopmental leadership training grants across the US.  The grant supports his 15% role as a core interdisciplinary faculty in psychology.  He mentors 7 ADP interns in LEND and in the Healthy CHILD program.  He teaches additional seminar course sessions to LEND fellows in IL 2594: Introduction to Leadership I in Developmental Disabilities and in SHRS 3125: Leadership in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities II on functional assessment & classification, early childhood intervention, public policy, and advocacy.  Finally, LEND Fellows are involved in his applied research initiatives with community partners across PA focusing on “best practices” in agency, school, and clinic settings.


Principal Investigator: Colleen Young
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Partnerships for Family Support

Agency Name:  Allegheny County
Award Dates: 7/1/20 – 6/30/21 
Amount: $256,290

The program seeks to enhance quality in a primary prevention system for families with young children in Allegheny County. The approach of this system is the implementation of the family support principles, which highlight community governed, designed, and improved services and activities. Cornerstones of the prevention system are the promotion of evidence-based home visiting and the use of the Protective Factors framework to strengthen families and improve the outcomes for young children.


Principal Investigator: Shannon Wanless
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Early Head Start
Agency Name: Department of Health & Human Services (Federal)
Award Dates: 9/30/20 – 9/29/21 
Amount: $4,319,152

 

Principal Investigator: Shannon Wanless
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Early Head Start
Agency Name: Department of Health & Human Services (Federal)
Award Dates: 9/30/20 – 9/29/21 
Amount: $197,902

Family Foundations Early Head Start (EHS) provides early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income families with children from birth to age three. Family Foundations is a program of the University of Pittsburgh Early Head Start Grant, operating in high-risk neighborhoods in six local communities: Clairton site and East End site, hosted by The Consortium for Public Education; Sto-Rox site hosted by Focus on Renewal; Hill District site and Northside site hosted by Community Human Services Corp; and the Tri-Boro site hosted by Turtle Creek Valley MH/MR, Inc.


Principal Investigator:  Jennifer Ely

Department: Health and Human Development
Project Title: Maximizing Adolescent Potentials
Agency Name: Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health
Award Dates: 7/1/20 – 6/30/21 
Amount: $501,114

Maximizing Adolescent Potentials secured a contract with the Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health in the amount of $501,114 for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. This funding will support community-based Prevention and Behavioral Health programming in Allegheny County.

As a contracted prevention provider, MAPS will continue school and community-based programming with children, adolescents and their families. Areas of focus include prevention of the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs while providing gambling awareness education to our senior population.

Additionally, our contract supports the assignment of Behavioral Health Liaisons in schools tasked with supporting students experiencing a barrier to learning. As a liaison to schools and community organizations, we will provide technical assistance and training to education professionals while navigating the child serving systems for identified students.


Principal Investigator: Tom Farmer

Department: Health and Human Development
Project Title: PaTTAN P2G IHE Program
Agency Name: The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)
Award Dates: 9/14/20 – 3/15/21 
Amount: $10,400

Faculty in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh have received $10,400 to participate in a network of institutions of higher education (IHEs) to support middle school teachers who serve students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD).  As part of its Middle School Success: The Path to Graduation (P2G) program, The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) is sponsoring a consortium of IHEs to prepare materials to guide teachers’ efforts to promote the school adjustment of students who receive special education services because of social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties.  Working with colleagues from East Stroudsburg University, Geneva College, Mansfield University, and Penn State, faculty in the Department of Health and Human Development are creating professional development materials including data use worksheets, case scenarios, self-guided modules, and practice guides to help teachers understand early warning signs, critical developmental leverage points, and approaches to tailor intervention to the needs of specific students to foster their pathways to success. Approximately 24,000 students in PA are identified for special education services for EBD. The goal of this work is to build a foundation during middle school to enhance their secondary school completion and their preparation for college and post-secondary careers.


Principal Investigator: Bethany Barone Gibbs (Chris Kline – Co-I)

Department: Health and Human Development
Project Title: Sedentary behavior, physical activity, sleep and cardiovascular risk in pregnancy: the Pregnancy 24/7 cohort study
Agency Name: National Institutes of Health
Award Dates: 9/15/20 – 8/31/25 
Amount: $1,722,318 (Pitt subaward) $3,431,188 (Overall)

Moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity is known to reduce the risk adverse pregnancy outcomes, yet less than 25% of pregnant women meet public health activity guidelines. More than 95% of the 24-hour day is spent in sedentary behavior, sleep, or light-intensity activity, yet the impacts of these lower intensity activities on adverse pregnancy outcomes are unknown. The Pregnancy 24/7 Study, a multi-site observational cohort including university of Pittsburgh investigators Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD (site PI) and Chris Kline, PhD (Co-I), will recruit 500 pregnant women and use state-of-the-art, 24-hour behavior assessment in each trimester of pregnancy to examine associations with adverse pregnancy outcome. Results from Pregnancy 24/7 will inform guidelines and future interventions designed to improve women’s pregnancy and long-term cardiovascular health.   


Principal Investigator: Rachel Robertson
Department: Teaching, Learning and Leading
Project Title: The LEND Center at the University of Pittsburgh
Agency Name: US Department of Health & Human Services
Award Dates: 7/1/20 – 6/30/21 
Amount: $22,934

The LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) Center at the University of Pittsburgh is a leadership education program funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 

At the University of Pittsburgh, the LEND Center is a program of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.  It is an interdisciplinary program that prepares graduate and post-graduate students, practicing professionals, and family members of children with disabilities to assume leadership roles in their respective fields.  While striving to understand factors that help all individuals attain optimal health and developmental trajectories over a lifetime, the LEND Center forges partnerships of university faculty and students, community service providers, health professionals and educators, leaders in government, business, and philanthropy, as well as individuals with disabilities.


Principal Investigator: Colleen Young
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Healthy Families
Agency Name: Frank and Theresa Caplan Fund for Early Childhood Development
Award Dates: 11/1/20 – 10/31/21 
Amount: $25,000

One plan to enhance collaboration is to develop and facilitate a monthly “Tea and Empathy” adult support group. PPS parents and/or the child's significant adult would be welcomed to participate with the group. The focus would be to help families cope with stress and traumas. Topics will be family driven and may include COVID-19 related school issues (e.g. remote learning and navigating the online environment), racial and cultural subjects, grief, health concerns, community violence, and other trauma related discussions. PPS's Family Services Specialists will co-facilitate this family program as the community partner. -design and test new strategies within the model (tea and empathy groups….) 

Additional ideas include: 

-partner with teachers to facilitate community building activities with families within the virtual learning environment (how do we engage, don’t just expect parents to know what to do…); and 

-design virtual supports for families that include video demonstrations on how to deal with challenging behaviors, etc…. 

We will engage with a select group of caregivers/families, early education, and community partner staff to guide the enhancement and implementation of the Healthy Families model. We will collaboratively design solutions with families generated after data collection to first better understand families’ needs and to accurately capture their voice in the design of these support.


Principal Investigator: Amanda Cross
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Evaluation of Gwen’s Girls Virtual Tutoring Program
Agency Name: Frank and Theresa Caplan Fund for Early Childhood Development
Award Dates: 11/1/20 – 10/31/21 
Amount: $20,000

The proposed study is an evaluation of a remote tutoring program operated by Gwen’s Girls, Inc. (GG), that serves a majority population of low-income, Black students.  The Academic Support Initiative tutoring program (ASI) is designed to provide high-quality remote learning at no cost to families who might not otherwise have access to the academic support children need. The program was constructed immediately following initial school closures in March of 2020.  The speed at which the program was created demonstrates not only the administrative facility of the GG organization, but the flexibility of community-based organizations to rapidly respond as community needs arise, often outpacing heavily bureaucratic school districts.    

The primary priority of ASI has been to reach as many students in need as possible with high quality educational programming.  Now, as the new school year begins and ASI is poised to expand significantly, the time is right to examine the workings of the program, the details of its implementation and indicators of its effectiveness.   

Program Narrative and Impact 

ASI began serving students in May, 2020. Parents or caregivers of interested students complete an intake interview with GG staff, specifying their family’s technology access resources and which subjects the student most needs support with.   

During intake families do a “tech check”. Many families are frustrated with the lack of support provided by local school districts and are need assistance with the basics of downloading Zoom and setting up for remote/hybrid learning options. If a family does not have the appropriate technology, ASI assists them in acquiring the technology before scheduling services.   

ASI has received 380 registrations for this service as of August 31st and continues to receive registrations daily. The majority of students are Black girls. ASI has an active caseload of 80 students: 25 have IEPs, 9 have ESL support, 29 are active with DHS (many in foster care).  

Students range from preK - 12th grade.  However, most are young students in grades preK – 5.


Principal Investigator: Colleen Young
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: HealthyCHILD and PRIDE Collaboration for Professional Learning
Agency Name: Frank and Theresa Caplan Fund for Early Childhood Development
Award Dates: 11/1/20 – 10/31/21 
Amount: $25,000

The PRIDE program will provide 6 hours of professional development (content outlined below) and ongoing consultation for the HealthyCHILD team to increase their understanding and capacity for race-related projects with HealthyCHILD’s Early Education Partners over the next several school years. These projects include: 

•  A P.R.I.D.E. Professional Learning Community (PLC) with EHS staff (six 1-hour sessions-content outlined below) 

•  Reflective Practice sessions focused on Race (5 sessions) and Implicit Bias (3 sessions) with Elementary School Staff 

A Space for Race” PLC with EC staff (six 1-hour sessions utilizing “My Racial Journey”) 

The PRIDE PLC with Early Head Start (6 sessions and includes EHS teachers, assistant teachers, family service specialists, coaches).

Session 1: Laying the groundwork–opening the conversation: In this session the group will be led through a set of concepts and community dialogue agreements. The concepts will help participants understand what they will be learning/talking about and the agreements will lay out what’s expected of participants and what they should expect (things such as ‘be present’, ‘safety does not equal comfort’, etc.) They also will be asked to reflect on ‘feelings’ questions (how do you feel entering this journey to learn about race) and (how do you feel after having this first conversation) as well as a justification question (why should early educators know about race and young children?) 

Session 2: Children and race part 1: This session will include introductory information about how children learn about race. During the session teachers will do an art activity representing themselves modeled after an activity described in Chapter 1 of You Can’t Celebrate That. (In the book children are asked to create an art piece that captures what delights them about themselves). 

Session 3: Children and race part 2: In addition to more content about children and race in this session, teachers will reflect on and have dialog about chapter 2 of You Can’t Celebrate That. They will also engage in dialogue about strategies that will enable them to become more attuned to racialized incidents that may occur among children, between children and adults, or among adults. 

Session 4: Talking about differences and race with multiple audiences: In this session we explore what talk about race looks like with very young children? What do staff need to know to carry out this work with the audiences they serve? What does ongoing adult dialogue look like (professional to professional). What barriers exist to prevent that dialogue? What does ongoing dialogue look like with parents? Where are opportunities to start those conversations. 

Session 5: Using picture books with very young children: In this session will we cover selecting and using books that are engaging and age appropriate, as well as books that serve as great resources for add on activities (art, movement, etc.). 

Session 6: Tying it all together: In this session educators will review the previous sessions prior to moving on to the final step in the training. A few of the questions that will be covered in this session are: How do you feel moving forward; what would your ongoing learning plan look like, can teachers design a program plan that includes 1) continued adult to adult (professional) dialogue; 2) continued dialogue opportunities with parents and 3) what the work will look like in the classroom. Can teachers be ‘color brave’ and take on the Anti-Bias curriculum as a guide? If so, what goals would teachers develop for younger children.  How would they look different from content designed for older children? (For example, do teachers feel that once equipped they would be comfortable working to achieve goals 1 and 2 of the anti-bias curriculum?) What would that require? 

Reflective Practice Sessions with Elementary School Teachers (8 sessions and includes Kindergarten -2nd grade teachers).

Session 1: Establishing an atmosphere for conversations about race will serve as a starting point for talking about race, racial issues, and young children as a way to more gradually and effectively introduce the topic (based on the assumption that the group has not already spent a significant amount of professional development time doing so). Session 2: What’s race… will look at the history of the development of racial ideas – not limited to African Americans, but including eastern and southern Europeans, Asians, Latinx, and indigenous people. 

Session 3: Race and young children will cover the timeline of children’s development of racial awareness. 

Session 4: Positive racial (PRI) identity will cover what PRI is and why it’s important to children of color.


Principal Investigator: Kelly Gavel/Tracy Larson
Department: Office of Child Development
Project Title: Social Justice, Equty and Racial Pride Preschool Curriculum
Agency Name: Frank and Theresa Caplan Fund for Early Childhood Development
Award Dates: 11/1/20 – 10/31/21 
Amount: $25,000

In response to an outpouring of recent requests for educational resources on discussing racism, racial pride, and social inequities with young children, we propose the immediate development of a picture book-based curriculum for children ages birth through five. 

The purpose of this study would be threefold:

To explore the gap in research on the benefits and mechanics of exposing preschool-aged children to discussions on social justice, equity, self-compassion and pride, and racism.
To develop and implement a picture book-based curriculum for preschool classrooms to engage children in conversation and activities around social justice, social equity, and racial pride. The curriculum will include multiple tiers to reflect the developmental age of the participating children and the comfortability of the teachers in the material. 
To develop and initiate a yearlong teacher cohort to train and empower teachers to effectively use social justice-oriented picture books in the classroom. Cohort support will include 1) virtual and in vivo teacher-only trainings, 2) ongoing consultation with HealthyCHILD staff, and 3) in the classroom modeling and skill-building

Development of a reproducible curriculum for immediate implementation in an early head start (EHS), preschool and K-2 setting. The curriculum would establish a book progression of 8-10 children’s books (e.g. Last Stop on Market Street, Saturday, We are All Wonders, and Just Ask!) that expose children to topics surrounding social justice and equity. In addition to these 8-10 high quality children’s books, we will implement a chronological review and inventory of teacher’s libraries with the Lee and Lows Classroom Library Questionnaire (see bottom of document). Teachers and HealthyCHILD consultants would start a new book and new section of their library to review every month. For example, in September the book may be Last Stop on Market Street and the library task of the month is to analyze how many books show different means of transportation. Teachers would revisit the chosen book frequently throughout the month to ensure comprehension and to highlight nuances. Each book would be accompanied by suggested discussion questions and answers, classroom activities, and tips for caregiver engagement. In addition, teachers would participate in a yearlong professional cohort. During meetings and ongoing consultation, they would acquire the skills specific to each book and the respective themes, share personal reflections and concerns, and provide continuous feedback on the program.