The Family & Children Research Unit (FCRU) is part of the
Social Science Research Center (SSRC) at Mississippi State University (MSU). The FCRU team members research, evaluate, and develop programs pertaining to children and families. The extensive array of past and current projects reveals expertise on topics pertaining to the general well-being of children, as well as their education, health, and safety. These projects work to improve outcomes through partnerships with policy makers, state agencies, community stakeholders, educators, and medical/dental providers.
During year four of the Empowering Mentors to Promote Women's Retention (EMPOWR) project, researchers at the Social Science Research Center will partner for a second year with staff and faculty from Hinds Community College Jackson Academic/Technical campus and Meridian Community College to implement a tested and sustainable student retention program for non-traditional female students attending community college. Funded by the Women's Foundation of Mississippi, the EMPOWR project was first piloted at the EMCC Golden Triangle Campus. The success of the program has lead to it being implemented at additional community college campuses. EMPOWR Training Manual
KIDS COUNT POLICY GRANT
Building upon the work that was begun with the awarding of the Following the Data policy grant in July 2014, Mississippi KIDS COUNT is continuing to address policy and system changes needed to favorably impact health and educational outcomes for Mississippi’s youngest children (0-8 years old). Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the project seeks to increase awareness regarding the importance of school attendance, beginning in Pre-K and to ensure that all children entering Pre-K collaborative programs in the state receive health, developmental and social and emotional screenings with appropriate referrals. The project runs from July 1, 2015 to March 30, 2016.
Funded by the Woodward Hines Educational Foundation, this 30 month project has the overall goal of evaluating the effectiveness of Mississippi’s Get2College program in preparing high school students’ transition to college.
Senate Bill 2395 was passed in spring 2013, establishing Mississippi’s first state-funded pre-kindergarten programs (pre-K) in 11 sites around the state. In fall 2014, with the start of the new pre-K programs, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) also implemented developmental screenings for attending children. The purpose of the screenings was to identify children who might be experiencing a developmental delay, so they could receive services and any necessary referrals, providing them an opportunity to enter kindergarten more prepared for school.
The Parental Survey on Sex Education in Mississippi: Implications for House Bill No. 999 (HB 999) state-wide survey was to gauge the opinions and attitudes of 3,600 parents and/or guardians (whose child/children attend Mississippi’s public school) regarding the implementation of sex-related education curricula into the public school system.
RESEARCH IN EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION SETTINGS
This project (2004-05), sponsored by the Center for Rural Childhood Learning Initiatives, involved the analysis of data from the five-state child care director survey, designing a national network of child care centers, and determining the feasibility of conducting research in child care venues. From these analyses, a Chartbook entitled, Early Education and Child Care Directors’ Perspectives of Children’s Health and Well-Being: A Multi-State Survey was compiled.
SAFE HAVENS TRAINING PROJECT
Family Communications, the producer of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, sponsored the Safe Havens Training Project, which was locally implemented by the FCRU. This project was designed to give caregivers the support they needed to create safety for children who have witnessed violence. Family Communications creates a wide range of materials dedicated to children and families.
Health and Safety
The LARC project is an eight month study of the use and access of long-acting reversible contraceptives in Mississippi. This research is funded by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy.
MISSISSIPPI HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT SURVEY
Through funding from the Center for Mississippi Health Policy, the overall purpose of the project is to replicate two previous surveys conducted for the Center for Mississippi Health Policy to determine Mississippians' perceptions, knowledge and coverage of the ACA. The survey will serve to gauge changes in attitudes among three sampling frames: 2013, 2014 and 2017.
Funded by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy, the project used a telephone survey of Mississippi adults to examine behaviors, attitudes, and opinions with respect to the use of cellular phones while driving. For more information about the project and to access the final report, click the link above.
PARTNERSHIPS TO PROMOTE HEALTHY LIFESTYLES FOR CHILDREN AND COMMUNITIES
The project, which is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will use a variety of creative techniques to educate pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students, their parents, teachers and community members about topics related to obesity (e.g., healthy foods, physical activity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease).
MISSISSIPPI SCHOOL HEALTH COUNCIL TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE EVALUATION
The purpose of this project is to conduct an evaluation of school health councils in Mississippi and the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi’s school health council technical assistance work. This project is funded by the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi.
MISSISSIPPI HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA) PROJECT
FCRU scientists in collaboration with the Center for Mississippi Health Policy, conducted a telephone-based survey will assess the attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and behaviors of Mississippians regarding health insurance coverage options, health programs and health services in order to provide policy- and decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders with objective data
MISSISSIPPI MEDICAID DATA PROJECT
The Mississippi Medicaid Data Project provided research and development activities to the State of Mississippi Division of Medicaid to conduct research on emergency room utilization by Medicaid patients in Mississippi. The SSRC team also worked in concert with Brandeis University (Heller School for Social Policy and Management).
PROJECT FIT AMERICA EVALUATION PROJECT
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation provided funding to evaluate the Project Fit America (PFA) program in Mississippi schools. The purpose of the research is to assess the impact of a program intervention, specifically the impact of providing innovative fitness equipment and accompanying curriculum, on the health and well-being of school age children in participating schools. The project will provide the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation with information regarding the effectiveness of the PFA program on health outcomes and the costs-benefits of this program.
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this study was designed to evaluate recent state-level policies to prevent childhood obesity in Mississippi. This project was sponsored by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy and continued for five years. FCRU project staff measured the attitudes and knowledge of Mississippi parents, legislators, school boards, State Boards of Health and Education members, and district health officers regarding obesity prevention and the implementation of the Healthy Students Act.
DELTA ORAL HEALTH PROJECT
Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration through the Delta Health Alliance, this project aimed to increase the use of oral disease prevention services among children attending child care centers in the Mississippi Delta. It also explored the use of oral health communication strategies to educate professionals who work with Mississippi Delta children, as well as identify policies and promote programs to encourage cost-effective dental care delivery systems
HealthWorks! was an interactive children’s health facility in Tupelo, MS. The goal of the program was to help children in grades K-8 understand the potential impact of their health-related choices. In partnership with North Mississippi Medical Center, the FCRU designed and conducted an evaluation of this program to determine participant satisfaction, as well as knowledge acquisition, retention and application.
RESEARCH INNOVATION AND DEVELOPMENT GRANTS IN ECONOMICS (RIDGE)
Funded by the USDA through the University Of Chicago Harris School Of Public Policy, the FCRU staff conducted an in-depth process analysis of food environments in childcare centers and homes within one Mississippi Delta county. The purpose of the research was to explore the context of the federal program: The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) program in Mississippi.
PANDEMIC FLU: NATIONAL SURVEY OF LICENSED CHILD CARE DIRECTORS
Funded by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the FCRU Staff conducted a national needs assessment of licensed child care centers to be used to guide future planning and resource development regarding child care preparation for seasonal/pandemic influenza. The needs assessment was based on data collected from a SSRC telephone survey of 1,500 randomly selected child care centers from a national database of more than 92,000 centers compiled by the FCRU.
MS AAP ORAL HEALTH PROJECT
The Pediatric Oral Health Project was established with a grant from the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation to the MS Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. The MS Chapter AAP entered a partnership with the Social Science Research Center to develop a document that details the oral health status of young children in the Mississippi Delta, mapping of current pediatricians and pediatric dentists in the Delta, and other related data.
MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITY-BASED ANIMAL ASSESSMENT PILOT STUDY
A collaboration of the FCRU and the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine this study involved several phases. In the first phase, key experts on pet overpopulation identified community-level project partners and developed community interview questions. For the second phase, community interviews in two Mississippi communities were conducted and implementation of pet friendly community based programs.
MISSISSIPPI DELTA CHILD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING RESEARCH PROGRAM
Funded by HRSA through the Delta Health Alliance (2006-08), this project organized a network of child care professionals in order to gather information on children’s health in the Mississippi Delta. An assessment of Delta child care directors and parents explored a variety of health concerns, including children’s oral health, obesity and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in order to establish baseline data for future studies and longitudinal interventions.
SOCIAL CLIMATE SURVEY OF EARLY CHILD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
FCRU scientists, along with the Wright State University Department of Pediatrics, conducted this survey, which measured the knowledge and attitudes of women nationwide regarding child health. This survey resulted in an Ambulatory Pediatrics publication entitled “The Co-occurrence of Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Smoking in a National Survey of Mothers.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Center for Child Health Research (CCHR) and the FCRU partnered to form the Collaborating Centers for Child and Family Health Research. As a part of its 75th anniversary celebration, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a product of the Collaborating Centers—a book containing the knowledge of over 60 of the nation’s leading experts on children entitled, About Children: An Authoritative Resource on the State of Childhood Today.
MISSISSIPPI BUILDING RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE CAPACITY (MSBRIC)
MSBRIC (2001-06) is an example of using child care centers as research/intervention venues. The goal of this project was to identify best practices for prevention of dental disease by working with child care centers in the Mississippi Delta. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality sponsored this project. Several state and national leaders in pediatric dentistry from institutions such as Columbia, UCLA, the Children’s Dental Health Project, and University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry served as FCRU consultants. Results from the first and second phases of this study have been translated into journal articles in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.
CHILD CARE CENTER DIRECTOR STUDY
This five-state study of early education and child care directors (2004) obtained their perspectives on health issues affecting young children and explored their interest in participating in a national network of child care centers. The Health, Early Education, and Child Care Consortium of the American Academy of Pediatrics Center for Child Health Research collaborated with FCRU staff and scientists in the construction and implementation of this project, as well as the presentation of the survey data. This study resulted in several conference posters and presentations at meetings of the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Head Start, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
CLEAN AIR, REWARDING ENVIRONMENT (CARE) PROJECT
This National Institutes of Health (NIH) study (2005), conducted with the University of Arizona, involved a feasibility study of an environmental tobacco smoke intervention program in four Mississippi Head Start centers. Children were tested for secondhand smoke exposure prior to the intervention and again afterwards. This project made strides in discovering key components involved in effectively conducting research in child care venues.
Since 2007, the FCRU has been the home of the Mississippi KIDS COUNT program by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Mississippi KIDS COUNT is the leading resource for comprehensive information on Mississippi’s children and serves as a catalyst for improving outcomes for children, families, and communities. MS KIDS COUNT releases an annual Fact Book, frequent policy briefs and participates in various presentations and events relating to the well-being of children. In doing so, MS KIDS COUNT provides accurate and non-partisan data, statistics and original research about the health, education, safety and well-being of Mississippi’s children to policymakers, educators, program administrators, parents, caregivers, advocates, and the general public.
The Mississippi Data Project (MDP) is a three year project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The MDP aims to serve as a resource for disseminating information via the MS Data Project website that can improve the outcome for Mississippi’s children. With a focus on education, health and economically secure families, the project seeks to provide information to other Mississippi W.K. Kellogg Grantees as well as community groups and policymakers.
MISSISSIPPI CHILDREN & FAMILIES KELLOGG DATA PROJECT
The Mississippi Data Project for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provides data support for the WKKF-funded work in Mississippi. This includes: facilitating data driven policy discussions, analyzing and visualizing extant data, as well as conducting surveys and writing a policy briefs on the health and education of Mississippi's children.
General Research & Development
There are no current projects for this category yet.
The FCRU team researched and development a plan, in concert with the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers and the Foundation Center, that provided detailed information about grant making in Mississippi (by both Mississippi philanthropy and national philanthropy) in terms of scope, topic area and geographical areas covered in the state. The work includes analyses of extant data, as well as primary data collection by surveying philanthropy in Mississippi.
After Hurricane Katrina, the FCRU released a number of press releases regarding the impact of the storm on Mississippi’s children and conducted a shelter survey to determine children’s most immediate needs after the disaster. The FCRU, in conjunction with the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians, also compiled several materials to create a Mental Health Checklist for pediatricians to employ when examining patients after the storm. This packet was distributed throughout the state and released in the Clarion Ledger.