Family Development Project
The Family Development Project (FDP) is a community-based research partnership
between Detroit Head Start agencies and University of Michigan faculty
and students. The purpose of the collaborative relationship is to develop
and implement a mental health screening and services assessment tool that
is useful and relevant to the Head Start Program, service providers, parents,
and researchers. The project also assists in the implementation of the
Head Start Family Information System (HSFIS), a new centralized system
for data on mental health and other information about Head Start families.
FDP is heavily involved in service learning. Working for the collaboratory
is a popular option for UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program)
which allows students to participate in research projects for academic
credit. MSW students from the School of Social Work also play varying
roles in this project.
Sample of FDP outcomes:
- Through a grant from the Ginsberg Community Service-Learning Center titled Family Advocacy for Children's Mental Issues and Academic Service Learning: The Family Development Project, the community service learning program developed a curriculum for UROP students focusing on issues surrounding child development, community-based research, cultural competency, and advocacy in the Head Start community.
- Implemented a maternal depression screen for Head Start parents because research indicates that children with emotional and behavioral problems often have mothers with depression. This screen is now administered to all parents in the Detroit Public Schools Head Start as part of their enrollment process.
- Created an access database management system for Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Head Start. The database enables DPS Head Start to accurately record information about their children and families. In addition, this database gives FDP access to data in an electronic format that is relevant to our research concerning family mental health issues. This database is still (6/06) in active use.
- Developed a steering committee that meets monthly, alternating between sites in order to improve communications with all collaboratory partners. These meetings have successfully moved the research agenda forward, discussing commonalities and differences between the two sites and their mental health needs.
- Changed agency policy on the use of food and snacks as behavioral modifiers to reward or shape desired behavior of African American preschool children.
- Implemented a universal child mental health screen at its Heard Start sites, which allows for early identification of children at risk for emotional and behavioral problems. Results are shared with both parents and teachers.
- Served more than 3,500 low-income families at its Head Start sites in Detroit.
- Provided more than 6,000 hours of direct service to Head Start children in Detroit through the service learning component this academic year and investigators' and project manager's non-compensated time.
- Provided testimony for DPS Head Start to the State Legislature to reinstate social workers who had been laid off for budget cuts; the positions were reinstated.
- FDP is developing a new component to its project that focuses on the impact of environmental hazards on children's well-being, including health, mental health, and academic achievement. FDP will be working more closely with policymakers and grassroots organizations to create an awareness of these problems in Detroit. FDP is working to identify environmental hazards in Head Start communities, particularly lead levels. FDP is working with Dr. Bunyan Bryant, Director of the Environmental Justice Initiative and Professor of Natural Resources and the Environment, to submit a National Institute of Health grant to further study these issues. FDP would merge the Head Start database with a community-level database, which identifies levels of environmental hazards by zip code and census tracts. Thus, FDP would be able to conduct multi-level analyses that examine the impact of community-level hazards, individual-level child risk factors, and outcomes related to children's health, emotional and behavioral problems, and academic achievement.
- FDP has recently negotiated a subcontract with Southwest Counseling and Development Services to assist in the implementation and evaluation of two of its programs, which will further facilitate this collaboratory's work to improve mental health services to pre-school aged children. One program, Starting Early, Starting Smart, is an integrated early childhood mental health program. The other program is called Even Start and is a parent-child literacy program.
- FDP has submitted a proposal to NIMH that aims to develop a culturally sensitive and acceptable intervention for maternal depression. For Head Start parents who score in the clinical range on the CES-D, FDP will present an empirically validated intervention for maternal depression designed by Bill Beardslee at Harvard University. FDP will modify the intervention based on what is learned from parents regarding cultural sensitivity and acceptability. Once the intervention is piloted, FDP will seek funding to develop an intervention that will be delivered to all Head Start parents who have high levels of depressive symptoms.
- The RESA VIII Head Start Program of Martinsburg, West Virginia is using the Head Start application.
Greg Kroske of GWK Consulting was provided a copy of the original application. The local
Head Start office modified the application to meet local verbiage, data gathering, and