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Conference spotlights equality of opportunity for children


18 Bronfenbrenner Conference speakers and organizers pose on a patio overlooking Cayuga Lake

Conference speakers and organizers braving the cold. front row l to r: Jens Ludwig, Stefanie DeLuca, Janet Currie, Laura Tach, Darrick Hamilton, Ariel Kalil, Cybele Raver, Rachel Dunifon, Anna Rhodes, Allison Young, Chloe East; back row: C. Kirabo Jackson, Timothy Nelson, Tyler Watts, Gary Evans, Doug Miller, Sean Reardon, Marianne Page. photo: Heather Ainsworth

By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

As inequality continues to grow in the United States and around the world, a national conference at Cornell Oct. 25-26 shined the spotlight on how to create equality of opportunity for children.

“An Equal Start: Policy and Practice to Promote Equality of Opportunity for Children” was the topic of the sixth biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, featuring a multidisciplinary mix of scholars from more than a dozen institutions and programs.

“We will be hearing some of the latest and most exciting research focused on policies and programs that enhance opportunities and promote equality for children,” said Rachel Dunifon, interim dean of the College of Human Ecology and conference co-organizer. “The papers presented here will certainly reflect Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of human development, which emphasized the multiple layers of influence that come together to support individual development.”

The conference convened a collection of leading researchers in an effort to cultivate interdisciplinary perspectives and consider micro-, meso- and macro-level interventions that best build opportunities for children to have an equal start in life.

Darrick Hamilton speaking

Darrick Hamilton of The New School for Social Research presenting.
photo: Heather Ainsworth

The conference’s major topic areas included Innovations in Transfer Programs for Children, Making the Safety Net Work for Families, Education and Equality of Opportunity, and Multigenerational Influences of Child Development. Research centered on policy and practice in families, schools, neighborhoods, programs and policies; presentations were organized and structured to help move the field forward in terms of how scholars think holistically about promoting equality for children.

“We charged the presenters with answering the question: What does it take to equalize opportunity for children? We asked them to be bold, and they did not disappoint,” said Laura Tach, associate professor of policy analysis and management and conference co-organizer. “They showcased cutting-edge policies and programs, from behavioral ‘nudges’ to improve parenting to ‘baby trusts’ that reduce intergenerational wealth inequality. Collectively, they showed us how social science can inform policy and practice in ways that are both innovative and evidence-based.”

The conference series and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) are named for Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005), the renowned developmental psychologist who taught at Cornell for more than 50 years and developed the ecological systems theory.

“This system, this ecological perspective from Bronfenbrenner, may give us another avenue to think about policies and practices that may improve children’s lives, and make a difference in some of their trajectories,” said Gary Evans, an environmental and developmental psychologist and the Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor at the College of Human Ecology. “That, of course, is why all of us are here.”

BCTR takes the “bench to bedside” model of the medical sciences and applies it to the social sciences – training faculty and students in research-practice partnerships; carrying out applied, engaged research; and building research collaborations with policymakers and practitioners.

Papers from the conference will be published by the American Psychological Association.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Bronfenbrenner Conference    children    conference    inequality    media mention    Rachel Dunifon    Urie Bronfenbrenner   

2Gen research briefs inform policymakers


composite image of Cornell Project 2Gen research brief covers

Current Project 2Gen research briefs

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Cornell Project 2Gen published a new series of research briefs designed to inform policymakers about the benefits of the programs and policies that support vulnerable families by supporting parents and their children jointly.

The briefs cover a range of topics that policymakers address including early childhood education, Medicaid and the opioid epidemic.

“Policymakers rarely have time to read peer-reviewed articles, which is the primary dissemination tool for many researchers,” said Elizabeth Day, a post-doctoral associate with Project 2Gen. “Creating briefs is one approach to bridging research and policy because they offer key research findings in an accessible way for a wide range of public audiences.”

The two-generational approach is gaining momentum within research communities across the country because evidence documents a strong connection between parents’ economic, psychological and social well-being and children’s healthy development.

Two-generational programs can begin by focusing on children and then add a component to support parents, such as parent education or skills classes. Others may focus on parents, and then add a component for children, such as child care or nutrition support. Still other approaches target systems that influence families, such as schools or workplaces.

For example, the research brief on early childhood education highlights the importance of child care to serve two purposes: child development and helping parents re-enter the workforce. It also summarizes two important research findings. First, New York State has childcare deserts, where there is not enough care available for working families. Second, a state-run preschool program has had the unintended effect of reducing the availability of childcare for infants and toddlers in rural communities.

Two other briefs provide researchers information on the opioid crisis and evidence-based programs that help to reduce the impact of the opioid crisis. One model offers wrap-around services to expecting mothers who are addicted to drugs, including counseling and drug treatment. The brief also describes family drug treatments courts, which offer parents services to help them stop using drugs and reunite with their families.

And a fourth brief provides information about children on Medicaid, the state-funded health insurance for the poor. Data shows children on Medicaid have better health and better educational outcomes than uninsured children. In addition, when parents are on Medicaid, families are less likely to become impoverished and outcomes improve for children.

“We hope these briefs can support policymakers and practitioners who have interest in these topics,” Day said. “This support may be in the form of providing background on a topic, providing information on what other states are doing legislatively, or suggesting a variety of effective approaches or solutions to problems whenever possible.”


Related:

Elizabeth Day honored with postdoc award
Cornell Project 2Gen sponsors early education research
Celebrating the launch of Cornell Project 2Gen

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Residential Child Care Project receives $2.8M grant

Tags: children,   grant,   Martha Holden,   RCCP,  

By Sheri Hall for the Cornell Chronicle

portrait of Martha Holden

Martha Holden photo: Heather Ainsworth

The Residential Child Care Project – a longtime Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research program designed to improve the quality of care for children living in group care settings – received a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish the Center for Creating Trauma-Informed Residential Settings and share two of its programs with residential care centers across the country.

The grant is part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a federal effort to develop a national network of services for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” said Martha Holden, Residential Child Care Project director. “There is a push nationally to encourage residential settings to use trauma-informed and evidence-based models to guide their practice. We have years of experience in assisting organizations in improving the quality of care and implementing trauma-informed models.”

The programs promoted in the grant are called Children in Residential Experiences (CARE) and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI).

The CARE model is a research-informed framework created by Holden and the RCCP to improve social dynamics in residential care settings. The model engages all staff at a residential care agency in a systematic effort to provide developmentally enriched living environments, to create a sense of normality and to improve the socio-emotional and developmental outcomes for children. CARE is used in more than 50 agencies in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K., all of which collect data and contribute to development of the knowledge base of what works in residential care.

TCI trains staff how to use trauma-informed practices to anticipate and de-escalate disruptive behavior, manage aggression and help students learn social and emotional skills.

Residential care organizations provide therapeutic interventions for children and young people who require 24-hour care. Children are often referred to these organizations from the child welfare, mental health or juvenile justice systems.

Martha Holden sitting at a table speaking as others look on

Jason Koski/Cornell Brand Communications
Martha Holden speaks at the 2014 RCCP Retreat.

“A lot of these children have experienced trauma and adversity in their lives,” Holden said. “They may have developed antisocial coping behaviors. They may become aggressive or self-destructive. They can be extremely withdrawn. Our programs help organizations to create the conditions that help children and families engage in therapeutic interventions.

“In addition, these models assist and support staff in creating a therapeutic milieu in which routine day-to-day interactions become opportunities for the children to develop trusting relationships with adults, learn social skills and emotional self-regulation, and experience the everyday small successes that helps build self-esteem and achieve normal developmental goals,” Holden said.

The grant provides funding to develop tools that will allow researchers and facility staff to track implementation of programs and improve them, in addition to sharing research, strategies and learning from the programs nationally.

“Data-informed decision-making and monitoring are essential components of both CARE and TCI,” said Debbie Sellers, director of research and evaluation for the Residential Child Care Project. “We will develop tools that will help organizations examine change over time using data they already collect. … We will also continueour development of fidelity assessment tools that help organizations identify specific areas where they can improve. Sustaining good practice requires continual effort and vigilance that we hope to facilitate with these tools.”

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: children    grant    Martha Holden    RCCP   

BCTR Talks at Twelve: Amanda Purington, Yoon Hyung Choi, Dominic DiFranzo, Thursday, December 13, 2018

 
portrait of Amanda Purington

Social Media TestDrive: Digital Literacy Education for Youth
Amanda Purington, Yoon Hyung Choi, Dominic DiFranzo - Cornell University

Thursday, December 13, 2018
12:00-1:00 PM
ILR Conference Center, Room 423



Though some youth receive social media education as part of a media literacy or digital citizenship education, more often they simply explore by themselves or with friends. While this trial and error approach is generally effective for learning, the nature of social media means any mistakes they make are public and can persist over time. Social Media TestDrive provides an opportunity for youth to practice using social media in a safe environment. Social Media TestDrive is a completely self-contained social media simulation, where youth can experiment, play, make mistakes and learn. In this talk, the team will demonstrate the Social Media TestDrive tool and talk about how they designed it with feedback from educators and students.

Dr. Yoon Hyung Choi is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Social Media Lab. Her research focuses on computer-mediated communication, with a focus on mediated social interactions, self-disclosure, and subjective well-being. Yoon received her B.A. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Communication from Cornell University.

Dr. Dominic DiFranzo is a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Social Media Lab at Cornell University. His research involves collaborating with colleagues across the social sciences and humanities to translate the tools and methods from data science, e-science and informatics to address their research needs and purposes. This includes working with a wide array of research groups and projects including large-scale social network analysis, experimental ethnography, open government data, and web observatories.  He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was a member of the Tetherless World Constellation.


Lunch will be provided.
This event is free and open to all. No registration is required, but groups of 10 or more, please inform Lori Biechele of your plans to attend so enough lunch can be ordered.

Parking is available on Garden Ave., in the Hoy Garage, or at various Parkmobile lots.  Please stop at any information booth for assistance.

For further parking info, see:
Short-term parking options
Parkmobile map

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Amanda Purington    children    education    social media    youth   

Time in nature to improve kids’ health


Adapted from an article by David Nutt for the Cornell Chronicle

The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund (AVF) supports collaborations that cut across disciplines to address today’s greatest sustainability challenges. In 2018, the fund awarded $1.5 million to a range of projects that will provide sustainable solutions around the world, from the Finger Lakes to the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia.

Among the 12 projects are efforts aimed at transforming nutrient-rich poultry waste into economically viable fertilizers; developing in-situ conservation strategies for African rice; boosting nature-based engagement for elementary schools in low-income communities; and connecting rural and urban areas across New York state through a public “Internet of Things” infrastructure.

portrait of Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock

Included in the 2018 funded projects is Opening the Door to Nature-Based Engagement, on which the BCTR's Janis Whitlock is a co-investigator.

Young people today show greater rates of stress and anxiety, a trend that coincides with a growing recognition of the threats to the natural environment. Employing a One Health approach, researchers will examine how curricular programing that provides students more time in nature can lead to healthier populations and environments. The project will specifically focus on elementary schools serving low-income communities in urban and rural areas, and will identify curricular best practices and generate data to inform programs and state policy for long-term social and environmental impact. The project also received a Engaged Cornell supplemental grant. Co-sponsored by MPH.

Investigators: Gen Meredith, population medicine and diagnostic sciences; Don Rakow, horticulture; Nancy Wells, design and environmental analysis; Janis Whitlock, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research; Monika Safford, Weill Cornell Medicine; Samantha Hillson, Tompkins County Health Department.

Atkinson's Academic Venture Fund awards $1.5M to 12 projects - Cornell Chronicle

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Getting youth to drink water, not sugar


young man drinking a bottle of water with the text "drink water." Text at the bottom "Make the healthy choice. Give your body the water it needs" NY State Department of HealthResearchers from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research helped inform new public service advertisements created by the New York Department of Health to educate youth about the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Researchers working on the ACT for Youth project conducted two rounds of focus groups in the summer/fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 to test possible messages that would encourage young minority males to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.

“The story demonstrates our ability to conduct research with youth across the state in order to help NYSDOH better serve and reach youth, ultimately helping—we hope-- to improve health,” said Karen Schantz, the communications coordinator for ACT For Youth.

A significant number of youth drink sugary beverages regularly. In one study conducted from 2011-2014, more than 60 percent of adolescent boys drank a sugar-sweetened beverage each day. This is alarming considering there is clear evidence that these beverages are associated with obesity, poor dental health and other health problems.

Amanda Purington, the director of evaluation and research for ACT for Youth, managed the focus groups. In them, groups of adolescent boys from western and central New York answered questions about the definition of “sugary” beverages and how much they consumed, and then evaluated sample ads created to encourage youth to avoid sweetened beverages.

“Many of the young people we talked with thought that sports drinks were healthy drinks and if they engaged in an athletic endeavor, they needed to drink them to replace electrolytes,” Purington said. “So, unfortunately, the marketing by the sports drink companies is working! On the whole, the youth were surprised by the amount of sugar in sports drinks because they really thought they were healthy drinks.”

Youth preferred ads with information, such as the amount of sugar in different kinds of sugary drinks. The most well-received ads struck a balance between providing information and delivering that information in a clear, concise – and often visual – way.

“They also liked having alternatives suggested, like ‘quench your thirst with water instead,’” she said. “But they didn’t just want to be told what to do, they wanted to come to their own conclusions.

“They also wisely acknowledged that a media campaign like this might lead to some short-term behavior change, but may not lead to long-term behavior change, especially in communities where sugary beverages are ingrained in the culture.”

The New York State Department of Health’s media campaign is now live.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    children    focus group    government    health    Karen Schantz    New York    nutrition    research    youth   

Bronfenbrenner Centennial Lecture, Wednesday, November 14, 2018

nicholas kristof speaking in front of a crowd in an auditorium View Media

Bronfenbrenner Centennial Lecture

A Path Appears: Promoting the Welfare of Children
October 2, 2017

Nicholas Kristof
The New York Times


A Path Appears: Promoting the Welfare of Children
October 2, 2017

Nicholas Kristof
The New York Times

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: children    Urie Bronfenbrenner   

Doing Translational Research podcast: Maria Fitzpatrick, Wednesday, November 14, 2018

portrait of Maria Fitzpatrick View Media

Doing Translational Research podcast: Maria Fitzpatrick

The Well Being of Children and Older Adults
March 6, 2018

Maria Fitzpatrick
Cornell University


The Well Being of Children and Older Adults
March 6, 2018

Maria Fitzpatrick
Cornell University

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    child abuse    children    doing translational research    podcast    policy    retirement   

2017 Bronfenbrenner Lecture, Wednesday, November 14, 2018

karen matthews at a microphone View Media

2017 Bronfenbrenner Lecture

Biological Pathways in Childhood Poverty, Health, Well-being, and Behavior
June 15, 2017

Karen Matthews
University of Pittsburgh


Biological Pathways in Childhood Poverty, Health, Well-being, and Behavior
June 15, 2017

Karen Matthews
University of Pittsburgh

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Bronfenbrenner Lecture    children    health    poverty   

Doing Translational Research podcast: Dana Weiner, Wednesday, November 14, 2018

portrait of dana weiner View Media

Doing Translational Research podcast: Dana Weiner

Using Data to Help Children
April 27, 2017

Dana Weiner
Chapin Hall, University of Chicago


Using Data to Help Children
April 27, 2017

Dana Weiner
Chapin Hall, University of Chicago

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: children    doing translational research    podcast    policy    practice    translational research   
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