Major Awards Received in Fiscal Year 2017 (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017)
Risk Behaviors among Offspring of Teen Parents: Effects of Parenting on the Next Generation
Project Director: Jennifer Grossman, Ph.D. Funded by: National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
This study addresses the potential of maternal and paternal parenting processes to reduce high risk of early sex and teen pregnancy for offspring of teen parents. It will use the first three waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) data to investigate whether protective effects of maternal and paternal parenting on adolescents’ and emerging adults’ sexual health extend to teen-parent families. It will also assess variation in parenting processes within teen-parent families and its associations with sexual behaviors. This work will provide recommendations for how pediatricians and other health care providers can support offspring of teen parents in order to combat the costs of intergenerational early sex and teen pregnancy for this at-risk group.
APT Validation Study III: Reducing Cultural Bias in Youth Program Quality Observations
Project Director: Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D. Funded by: William T. Grant Foundation
Funded by William T. Grant Foundation in 2013-2015, the purpose of Afterschool Program Practices Tool (APT) II Study was to develop and test drive a multi-pronged online reliability training designed to improve rating accuracy for youth program observations. In this study, the research team found preliminary evidence that trainees found it somewhat more difficult to accurately rate video clips (a) when behaviors to be rated reflected the middle range of the APT scale, (b) that featured programs for younger, elementary-aged children, (c) that were the lengthiest, and (d) that contained behaviors that could be interpreted differently based on one’s culture, background, or experience. An understudied yet crucial source of measurement variance within observational tools is whether the “gold standard” ratings that account for whether a trained rater passes certification of reliability has cultural biases that would unfairly privilege some groups of people with certain cultural vantage points over others. As a supplement to APT Validation Study II, the research aims for Validation Study III are to (1) generate master scores for video clips of youth program observations without cultural bias, (2) create more tailored and targeted online training and anchor systems, and (3) eliminate significant differences in certification passing rates between groups with different cultural vantage points (i.e., Black vs. White raters, urban vs. non-urban program experiences). Products from this supplemental study include (a) more culturally inclusive Guide to Activity anchor ratings, (b) guide to master scores, (c) “range finding” online training tools, and (d) culturally informed master scores for online assessments used for APT reliability certification purposes.
Out-of-School Time Roundtable and Assessment Preparation
Project Director: Ellen Gannett, M.Ed. Funded by: Brookline Community Foundation
Ellen Gannett, director of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time, delivered a keynote address and facilitated discussion with key community leaders on Out-of-School Time systems and the need for middle school programs. The goals of these meetings are to develop a comprehensive plan for a needs and supply assessment for Brookline, MA, and to consider evaluation methods, focus groups, and data collection and analysis.
Early Education and Out-of-School Time Evaluation
Project Director: Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D. Funded by: Children’s Investment Fund (with James Bell Associates)
The Work, Families & Children research group (WFC) at the Wellesley Centers for Women serves as a research partner to James Bell Associates in an evaluation of the Children’s Investment Fund’s Early Education and Out-of-School Time (EEOST) Capital Grant Program in Massachusetts. The evaluation, in addition to providing feedback about the implementation of the grant program to help improve design and implementation, provides an opportunity to understand the impact improvements made to early care and education and to out-of-school facilities have on various dimensions of program quality and organizational viability.
System Building Initiative Convening
Project Director: Ellen Gannett, M.Ed. Funded by: The Wallace Foundation
The National Institute on Out-of-School Time assisted in the planning and facilitation of a convening of Wallace Foundation grantees participating in Wallace’s Afterschool System Building initiative. This effort is designed to generate lessons on how cities can refine and enhance systems already under development to operate more sustainably in the service of a city’s youth.
Adolescent Communication with Family and Reproductive Health
Project Director: Jennifer M. Grossman, Ph.D. Funded by: National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Family communication about sex can reduce risky sexual behaviors, but most studies focus only on the teen-parent dyad. High levels of extended-family involvement in childrearing and sexuality communication, such as with grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings and cousins, and “fictive kin,” especially in Black and Latino families, suggest the importance of assessing this under-studied influence. This mixed-methods study will undertake the first comprehensive assessment of teens’ extended-family sexuality communication and its associations with sexual behavior, and includes extended-family perspectives in order to apply quantitative findings to prevention and intervention programs. The study applies an established conceptual model of parent-teen sexuality communication to extended family, which recognizes both direct talk about sex and indirect (less straightforward) sexuality communication, which predict teens’ sexual beliefs and behaviors. The significance of this work lies in its comprehensive focus on the full range of partners in family sexuality communication, assessing whether this communication is helpful or harmful to teens’ sexual health. It contributes to public health by guiding action steps for how extended family influence on teen sexual health can direct inclusion of larger family systems, beyond the nuclear family, into prevention and intervention programs.
Depression/Suicide Prevention for Adolescents in Holliston
Project Director: Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D. Funded by: MetroWest Health Foundation
Youth depression is a problem of major proportions, and over half of all teens who plan or attempt suicide have a mood disorder at the time. As a result, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (2016) strongly endorsed depression screening for all young persons between the ages of 12 and 18, as a way to identify at-risk children who may fall through the cracks. With funding from the MetroWest Health Foundation, the team aims to provide support to schools for prevention, intervention, and access to treatment in order to reduce mental health symptoms among adolescents. Specifically, the project aims to implement an evidence-based depression and suicide prevention program that targets high-risk adolescents in the Holliston Public Schools. The program will increase the school community’s mental health awareness and literacy, which serves as a prevention tool for the community regarding adolescent depression; offer two-level screening to students in one middle school and two high school grades, including universal, self-report screening for all students, followed by in-depth interviews with students who screen as high risk; and communicate with Holliston parents/guardians about youth depression and resources, provide more significant follow-up (both immediate and long-term) with parents/guardians of high-risk teens, and provide all school families with access to the Interface Referral Network.
21st Century Community Learning Centers and Literacy Skills
Project Director: Georgia Hall, Ph.D. (with American Institutes for Research) Funded by: The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
In partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), researchers at American Institutes for Research and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time at the Wellesley Centers for Women are undertaking a study that explores how high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs can promote participants’ literacy development and the role social and emotional learning (SEL) may play in supporting the development of literacy-related skills. The study will be undertaken in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs) funded by ESE and MDE that have a demonstrated capacity and track record of providing high-quality afterschool programming over several years. The proposed study is intended to lay the groundwork for the partnership to conduct a series of methodologically rigorous studies that examine the relationship between program quality, SEL skill development, and a variety of school-related outcomes. Information yielded from these studies will assist ESE and MDE in making decisions on how to further develop and support the 21st CCLC grantees to maximize the achievement of a variety of desired youth outcomes associated with youth development and school success while expanding the evidence base for the merit of continued investment in the 21st CCLC program and OST more broadly.
The Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse: A Partnership to Improve Outcomes
Project Director: Linda M. Williams, Ph.D. (with University of Massachusetts Lowell) Funded by: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice
In collaboration with prosecutors’ offices and mentors from the field, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Wellesley Centers for Women have undertaken research designed to increase knowledge of the criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse (CSA) cases, the characteristics of cases prosecuted, and the factors associated with case attrition. Designed to enhance current and foster new researcher-practitioner collaborations, this research will identify barriers to prosecution of offenders and factors that contribute to successful outcomes while minimizing victim trauma. The attrition of CSA cases from the criminal justice system has been a concern to victims, practitioners, and researchers for decades. This study will document (1) case attrition; (2) the frequency with which CSA cases require the child to testify at multiple hearings, directly confront the alleged perpetrator, and experience harsh cross-examination; and (3) the factors that impact case outcomes. This research will identify factors (details about the alleged incident, victim/ victim family, perpetrator, evidence, prosecutorial decisions) that affect the trajectory and outcomes of cases and will lead to recommendations to improve outcomes for victims and successful prosecution of perpetrators. The results of this study will contribute to scholarly and practice-oriented literature and understanding of CSA case attrition with the goal of increasing access to justice for victims and successful prosecution of perpetrators.
Continuation of Analyses for “Empowering Families”
Project Director: Joanne Roberts, Ph.D. (with Ready to Learn Providence at Roger Williams University) Funded by: Roger Williams University (with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation)
The Wellesley Centers for Women, in partnership with Ready to Learn Providence at Roger Williams University, received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for continuing analysis of “Empowering Families,” a training intervention that aims to build the capacity of families, teachers, and school staff to better understand how children’s executive function impacts their socialemotional and cognitive growth. Other funding for this project comes from the U.S. Department of Education, Investing in Innovation program.
Youth in Philanthropy Program Evaluation
Project Director: Georgia Hall, Ph.D. Funded by: Foundation for MetroWest
The Wellesley Centers for Women received funding from the Foundation for MetroWest to conduct an evaluation of Youth In Philanthropy, a program designed to give youth the knowledge to become leaders in our community by learning the importance of philanthropy.
Other external funding
Excluded from this list of major awards, but important as far as the scope of WCW external funding, are other fee-for-service training, participant fees, consulting, and other fee-based project work, which can be sizable. This encompasses dozens of fee-for-service and consulting agreements that can range from a few hundred dollars to nearly $50,000 dollars. These agreements also range in duration from very short (less than one month) to multi-year renewable contracts. Each action project—Open Circle, the National SEED Project, and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time —worked with clients and practitioners to provide training, professional development, technical assistance, and customized solutions to educators, schools, school districts, local governmental, and non-profit agencies around the country.