HCD Projects of Interest
Kidzeum - The Department was approached by the Kidzeum of Health and Science to serve as evaluators for a STEAM Residency Program. PSP will evaluate the reception of the program through the lens of the students, teachers, and school administrators. They will also look at the impact on the Kidzeum.
Little Leaps - Little Leaps is a collaboration between the Department of Population Science and Policy and the Hillsboro Community Child Development Center (HCCDC) to provide bags of age-appropriate low-tech toys and household items to all students at HCCDC based on the milestones in the Ages & Stages Questionnaire twice a year.
Generation Health Food and Values Survey - This project will provide a comprehensive picture of family health and give families in Douglas County better strategies to achieve adequate nutrition. Drawing on the insights generated by this study, SIU Medicine’s Population Science and Policy will collaborate with Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) to help Douglas County articulate critical needs in the community and advance innovative initiatives based on cross-sector collaboration.
Innovation Incubators for Building Wellness and Resilience in Rural and Urban Schools - Schools have an essential role to play in providing stability and safe space for children and connecting them to caring adults. Evidence-supported, trauma-informed models have been incorporated into systems across the country leading to more trauma-informed care. Our team brought together an inter-disciplinary coalition to creatively embed this approach in a rural and urban counties in our state.
The Department of Population Science and Policy (PSP) was approached by the Kidzeum of Health and Science to serve as evaluators for a STEAM Residency Program. PSP will evaluate the reception of the program through the lens of the students, teachers, and school administrators. They will also look at the impact on the Kidzeum.
The Kidzeum of Health and Science in Springfield, Illinois along with Springfield School District 186 will collaborate to develop a two-week STEAM-focused project for second graders. Students will participate in school-based activities and learning based on museum content with an emphasis on STEAM subjects within the Kidzeum residency. The project will take place during the 2021-2022 school year with second-grade classes from Springfield School District 186 participating. Teachers, school administrators, and museum staff partnered to create the curriculum which includes various subjects such as the STEAM fields, literacy, physical education, music, social studies, and social-emotional wellness. Lead teachers from each second-grade class will be responsible for teaching the curriculum during the project. Staff at the Kidzeum will enrich the curriculum through a cooperative STEAM project that builds on museum content. PSP will gather data by interviewing a sample of second graders from each classroom, administering an online survey to teachers and school administrators and analyzing museum data.
Nicole Summers-Gabr, PhD
Kidzeum of Health and Science and Springfield School District 186
To increase STEAM interest and awareness in elementary students. Class lessons will be performed in the museum setting to allow for a more hands-on and creative educational experience.
Little Leaps is a collaboration between the Department of Population Science and Policy and the Hillsboro Community Child Development Center (HCCDC) to provide bags of age-appropriate low-tech toys and household items to all students at HCCDC based on the milestones in the Ages & Stages Questionnaire twice a year. Included in the bags were suggested activities to encourage interaction and play between child and parent or caregiver. Additionally, educational sessions were provided to parents and teachers to bust common parenting myths.
Between conception and age three, a child’s brain undergoes an impressive amount of change. The brain doubles in size in its first year, and by three, it reaches 80% of its adult volume. Despite increasing knowledge of this critical time in development, no formal institution exists that routinely educates all children between 0-3. Therefore, the molding of a developing brain is dependent on the engagement and interactions of a parent or parents.
Most parents, however, especially those in the lowest socioeconomic or educational quartiles, are not exposed to how simple strategies can maximize their baby’s brain development. This is particularly true in rural, impoverished areas were higher than national average teen pregnancy rates and lack of access to pediatricians make parental education and skill-building on developmental outcomes exceedingly rare.
Our Department of Population Science and Policy identified an innovative rural community in our service region to partner on enhancing structures within a hospital to improve infant and toddler brain development.
Sameer Vohra, M.D.
Hillsboro Area Hospital, Hillsboro Community Child Development Center, Patrice Jones, Laura Kessel
Hillsboro Area Hospital serves as a community center, routinely hosts community events, houses a gym, and has a child development center, in partnership with the local school district, on the hospital grounds. Partnering with physicians, academics, early childhood workers, educators, and public health officials, our team has started efforts to use these structures to build baby brain friendly practices designed to improve the developmental outcomes of vulnerable children.
A project has been initiated to use the child development center and other hospital structures to engage parents in “serve and return” practices designed to help augment infant and toddler development skills. The program bags contain low-tech toys and everyday household objects, as well as cards with suggested activities and highlights of the primary brain activation during those activities. There have been educational events to provide the child development center teachers and caregivers information on brain development. Surveys have been conducted at the child development center to measure if the intervention is increasing parent engagement and evaluate caregiver satisfaction with the program. Further measures will evaluate the program from the child development center perspective.
Caregivers with no previous Little Leaps exposure
Child Development: All indicated that they understood (range 8-10, mean 9.43) what a child should be able to do at their age. The parents agreed that there is a connection between play and brain development (mean 9.57). Three parents found information on a child’s development from their doctor, three parents from teachers, and one from the internet. Most of the parents indicated normal developmental milestones as something a child needs more practice with. This includes such tasks as coloring, dressing/undressing, math, pencil holding while one parent indicated “coping with anger” and one was happy with where their child is currently.
Child engagement: Only two out of seven parents strongly agreed that they are able to spend time with their children as often as they would like and three parents strongly agreed to be engaged with their child’s daycare as much as they would like to. One parent ranked at eight (1-10 scale) indicating that they should be getting more feedback from the child development center. Two parents indicated “a little” for the amount of time they spend actively engaged with their child’s play. Playing outside was the most common favorite play activity for the children, while only two parents indicated watching movies or tablets as their child’s favorite activity.
Caregivers with Little Leaps exposure
The questionnaire for the parents who were familiar with Little Leaps Program involved 22 children however only 19 responded to all the questions.
Child Development: All but three parents had a better understanding of what their child should do at their age (≥5 on a 1-10 scale). Most of the parents indicated normal developmental milestones as something a child needs more practice including social development, fine and gross motor skills. Parents were either satisfied with their interaction with the child development center or would increase the frequency of their interaction with the teachers.
Child engagement: 12 parents indicated that they spend more time with their children since receiving their bags (≥5 on a 1-10 scale). 15 parents have talked more with their teachers since the start of the project. Four parents specifically indicated reading as their usual interaction with their children.
Little Leaps bags: One caregiver indicated that the activities included in the bag were not right for their child. All the parents ranked ≥5 for using the Little Leaps bags (mean 8.74). Parents indicated that Little Leaps bags helped them create activities for their children that would utilize common household items. Some of the parents received bags that were not of the correct age for the child, however, most of the others would not change anything about the bags.
Vohra S, Sanders K, Pointer C, Jones P, Koehler J. "Building an Interdisciplinary Rural Coalition to Research and Improve Baby Brain Development". Poster Presentation at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2016 National Conference and Exhibition. October 23, 2016. San Francisco, CA.
Westrick H, Brown R, Fogleman A, Albers T. Innovating Illinois Communities - Regional Approaches to Population Health. Panel Presentation at IPHA 77th Annual Conference: Public Health Proud. September 5, 2018. Normal, IL.
Federovich Y, Johnson T, Lohman Irwin E, Scheer A, Fogleman A, Koehler J, Whetsell H, Vohra S. Interdisciplinary Collaboration between Healthcare, Education, and Daycare to Promote Child Brain Development. Poster Presentation at American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition. New Orleans, LA. October 26, 2019.
A pilot study called “Generation Health: A Qualitative Exploration of Food and Value System in Douglas County,” explores Douglas County residents’ view of food and nutrition in the context of health and wellbeing. The project will examine the perceptions of residents across three generations: children, parents, and grandparents. As caregivers, their values, attitudes, and cultural preferences for nutrition are passed down.
According to the Child Policy Research Center at the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality, currently, 28% of adults in Douglas County are obese. Obesity is starting at a young age where already 17.5% of low-income preschoolers are obese. Understanding how to best change the lives of Douglas County residents begins with hearing their voices. There are a number of problems already in the area including the lack of fitness centers (1 per 10,000 people), farmers’ markets (0 per 10,000 people), and the little number of places accepting nutritional benefits programs. There are 6.1 grocery stores per 10,000 people, but only 1.5 stores per 10,000 people accept WIC. More places accept SNAP (8.2 stores per 10,000 people), but because this number exceeds the number of grocery stores it suggests that some residents must use other venues as a nutritional supplement including gas stations and convenience stores.
This project will provide a comprehensive picture of family health and give families in Douglas County better strategies to achieve adequate nutrition. Drawing on the insights generated by this study, SIU Medicine’s Population Science and Policy will collaborate with Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) to help Douglas County articulate critical needs in the community and advance innovative initiatives based on cross-sector collaboration.
Nicole Summers, PhD
Douglas County Health Department, Arcola CUSD #306, & Yoder’s Restaurant
The project has five objectives: (1) to learn about residents’ current diet; (2) to better understand residents’ access/ barriers to food; (3) to understand residents’ knowledge about nutrition, (4) to explore residents’ perspectives on how health and well-being relate to perceptions of food, and (5) to increase community buy-in about the importance of adequate nutrition. The purpose behind these objectives is to develop foundational knowledge to launch a community-informed program for the health and well-being of residents.
In Phase I of the project, funds will be used to examine residents’ knowledge and perceptions of nutrition.
In Phase II of the project, funds will cover hands-on age-appropriate activities, such as creating illustrated stories, to socialize positive attitudes toward nutrition and provide knowledge to residents about how to overcome local barriers.
Childhood trauma can have a direct, immediate, and potentially hazardous impact on the ability of a child to develop and learn. Defined as a response to a negative event or series of events that surpass a child’s ordinary coping skills, trauma comes in many forms including maltreatment, witnessing violence, or the loss of a loved one. These events collectively referred to as adverse childhood experiences, can interfere with brain development, learning, and behavior – each potentially impacting academic success and health outcomes.
Schools have an essential role to play in providing stability and safe space for children and connecting them to caring adults. Evidence-supported, trauma-informed models have been incorporated into systems across the country leading to more trauma-informed care. Our team brought together an inter-disciplinary coalition to creatively embed this approach in a rural and urban counties in our state.
Macon/Piatt Regional Office of Education, Education Coalition of Macon County, Illinois Education Association
Our goal is to improve academic success and health outcomes of children in five schools located in one rural and one urban county in our state by fostering innovation incubators that incorporate trauma-informed practices to build wellness and resilience.
Based on increasing awareness of the challenges faced by children suffering from trauma and the passage of a state law eliminating “zero tolerance” suspensions and expulsions, a unique partnership was formed between a regional office of education, a state-wide teacher’s association, a local county education coalition, and a medical school.
Through monthly meetings, increased educational sessions and awareness campaigns, a pilot program was started integrating the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model in five schools reaching over 1500 students and their families. Each school was tasked with performing a needs assessment and changing its culture to integrate collaborative problem solving that fosters healthy leaders, teachers, and students.
Needs assessments have been started in each of the schools to identify the challenges they face and its potential to build a trauma-informed innovating school. Although the process is early, small plants of innovation have sprouted with principals and teachers taking active roles in better identifying children at risk and placing them in a position to succeed. Each school has a number of success stories of students responding and improving based on these changes. Our academicians also have begun a process of providing a framework of metrics both qualitative and quantitative to tell the coalition’s story.