Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2014

Wellesley Centers for Women research and action initiatives are funded primarily by federal, state, and corporate grants and contracts. Several new and continuing projects received funding over the past six months.

Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk Reduction in out-of-School Time: Crafting a Special Issue of New Directions for Youth Development

Project Director: Georgia Hall Ph.D.

Funded by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with RT1, International

This project is a targeted effort to increase peer-reviewed literature in the field of Out­ of-School Time (OSD physical activity and healthy eating. In partnership with PEAR (Program in Education, Afterschool, & Resiliency) and the National AfterSchool Association, Georgia Hall, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOSD at Wellesley Centers for Women and Jean Wiecha, Ph.D. of RTI are editing a special issue of New Directions /or Youth Development (NDYD), which will feature manuscripts regarding the impact of obesity and chronic disease risk reduction interventions that take place in OST program settings. Its purpose is to synthesize evidence to date and to inform future research and policy activities.

Second Stage Growth and Scaling Grants Program for Social and Emotional Learning Program Providers

Project: Open Circle

Project Directors: Nova Biro,M.B.A. and Nancy MacKay, B.A.

Funded by: NoVo Foundation

This three-year grant will enable Open Circle to more than double its reach among large school districts while continuing to grow its service delivery to smaller districts. To achieve this acceleration in growth, Open Circle will expand its geographic service area, invest in program development for the train­ the-trainer program, invest in program and staff development for online programming, and invest in staffing in other geographic regions for district relationship-building and service delivery.

Consultant to Urban Institute's Assessment of the Massachusetts State Subsidized Child Care System

WCW Consultant: Nancy Marshall, Ed.D.

Funded by: Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care

The primary objective of this project is to identify ways to improve the regional and statewide efficiency of the distribution of state supported child care, to examine the needs of eligible families in the context of the availability of the support, and to consider the balance of quality early education and work supports. To achieve this goal, the Urban Institute team will review policies and practices, as well as business processes, and analyze the child care needs of families and the ability of the subsidized system to meet those needs. Nancy Marshall, Ed.D. will provide consultation to this project, including identifying key stakeholders, and reviewing and commenting on interview materials and reports.

Empowering Families

Project Director: Joanne Roberts, Ph.D. and Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed D.

Funded by: U.S. Department of Education, Investing in Innovation (i3) with The Providence Plan

Empowering Families is designed to build the capacity of families with young children (grades K-3) to support their children's social-emotional and cognitive development, while enhancing the ability of these families to collaborate more effectively with their child's teachers and other school personnel. The researchers will examine how effectively Mind in the Making (MITM) is implemented and what differences are seen in MITM classrooms, parents, students, and families. Some of the questions addressed are: Do participating MITM families exhibit greater levels of parental educational involvement, parental efficacy and attitudes towards family involvement compared to a matched sample of non-participating families (control group)? Do children of MITM parents have better social skills, academic outcomes, and a smoother transition to kindergarten compared to control group? Do teachers report changing classroom practices after MITM? Do children in participating classrooms have better outcomes compared to children of non-participating classrooms in the same schools? Are outcomes influenced by whether parent, a teacher, or both completed MITM? Results of this evaluation will inform changes to MITM content and teaching strategies and will identify key areas of difference to illustrate the impact of the program on children’s development and parent-school involvement.

Co-Morbid Physical and Mental Health Care Needs for Children and Youth at Risk for Obesity

Funded by: Department of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau

The planned secondary data analyses will add to the existing knowledge derived from the National Survey of Child Health, which has established prevalence rates for children with chronic health conditions, disparities associated with obesity, and the relationship between identification as a child with special health care needs and school outcomes. In collaboration with Myra Rosen-Reynoso, Ph.D. at the Institute for Community Inclusion at University of Massachusetts
Boston, this project will investigate prevalence of co-morbid chronic physical and mental health care needs that put youth at risk
for overweight and obesity, and for poor academic performance in school, as mediated by physical activity and moderated by child, family, and neighborhood characteristics. The project will identify particular combinations
of physical and mental health conditions that may have bi-directional associations, have implications for risk of obesity and academic outcomes, but may also be ameliorated by physical activity.


Additional Funding


Amy Banks, M.D. received funding to provide consultation services to the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN.

Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D. received funding for research with Boston Children’s Hospital from the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation for “Family Matters: Preventing Adolescent Depression by Treating Parents and Families.” Gladstone also received funding for research with Boston Children’s Hospital from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health for “The Family Talk Preventative Intervention: Adaptation for Use with In-home Therapy.”

The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) received gifts from various individuals and supporters.

Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D. received funding for research with the Institute for Social Research, Norway from the Norwegian Research Council for “Home for Home Production, Market Production and Gender Differences in the Labour Market.” This project investigates the link between household specialization and labor market outcomes of husbands and wives.

Nancy Marshall, Ed.D. provided an analysis of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) and Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) data for Associated Early Care and Education.

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at WCW received support for training, technical assistance projects, and continuing evaluations from Capitol Region Education Council in Hartford, CT; Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services; City Connect Detroit; Wyoming Afterschool Alliance; Belle Chasse Academy; Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, Center for School and Community; Wallace Foundation; Reebok, LTD; Tenacity; Providence After School Alliance; University of Wyoming, 4-H & Youth Development Sublette County; The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia; Philadelphia Parks and Recreation; Boston Public Schools; and EducationWorks.

The Open Circle program at WCW received various gifts from friends and supporters of the social and emotional learning (SEL) program.

Joanne Roberts, Ph.D., Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D., and Nancy Marshall, Ed.D. provided consulting services to the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute in support of the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) validation study.

Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D. provided refresher training to Associated Early Care and Education staff with prior assessment experience, as well as training of staff without prior PPVT-4 and PALS Pre- Kindergarten child assessment tools.

Nan Stein, Ed.D. was a keynote speaker at a Foundation for Children, Inc. event. Stein also provided Shifting Boundaries training to the South Dakota Network against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

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