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CFS's Good Work Results in Renewals and New Support!

New Programs Branch from Equipo Roots

The relevance of strategies developed in CFS's Equipo Team Training Project becomes more and more evident as new projects based on its principles are funded. Equipo Team Training originally was developed in East Little Havana to better employ the strengths of the Spanish Speaking "natural helpers" in the community's social service delivery system. The curriculum is designed to give family service providers and natural helpers concrete "hands-on" tools to strengthen neighborhood systems of family support.

Lessons learned in the Equipo effort formed the foundation for the Puentes Collaborative Initiative (PCI) adopted by Hillsborough County last year. During Phase 1, key community leaders and service providers participated in surveys and focus groups with Hispanic parents in Hillsborough County to determine how to better meet the needs of residents and improve their daily lives. The SAMHSA Community Action Grant Program recently renewed funding for Phase 2, which will focus on service development, training, and technical assistance in Plant City, Wimauma, Town 'n Country and West Tampa neighborhoods. Within these communities, the project also will serve children with and at risk of serious emotional disturbances and their families. This initiatve represents a community partnership that is directed by Marjorie Carlson of Family Service Association, Maria Pinzon of Hispanic Services Council, and the Department of Child and Family Studies' (CFS) Mario Hernandez.

During the next six months, PCI staff, Hispanic parents and residents will develop and pilot community-based wraparound teams. Unlike other wraparound teams in the county, the PCI teams will be led by parents. Also, as part of Phase 2, service provider partners participating in the initiative will be able to access cultural competence education and training; experience cross-cultural activities and personnel exchanges; and receive technical assistance developing and implementing cultural competency plans throughout the project period. CFS's Angela Gomez will coordinate this evaluation initiative. Case studies will be conducted toward the end of Phase 2 after the community-based wraparound services have been fully implemented.

Training for parents offered by PCI will come from another project housed in TREaD and funded through Hillsborough County's THINK initiative. In Plant City, Equipo Team Training has been transformed by the needs of this community into The Changemakers Initiative. Under the direction of Kathy Lazear, Changemakers is in the process of being implemented and seeks to improve social support networks among Plant City's African American families. This project also will provide training for the Hispanic Parents in PCI.

New funds from the Children's Board of Hillsborough County's analysis grant program will support design of an innovative participatory evaluation model for the Changemakers Initiative. Entitled The Changemakers Initiative: Towards the Development of a Participatory Evaluation Framework, the evaluation project will be directed by Ricardo Contreras, and Co-PIs Philip Oullette and Kathy Lazear.

"This type of evaluation involves full participation from the residents," said Ricardo. "They are the decision makers while the research staff serve as facilitators." A report is due to the Children's Board in May 2001.

Deep In the Heart of Texas

Starting this summer, a similar approach in Texas helped to create a partnership with CFS and Texas A&M University. In July, federal funding from the Office of Rural Health Policy was provided to three universities to create general health research centers. The Southwest Rural Health Research Center at Texas A&M University was selected to conduct research on access to health issues for the Latino population. Their proposal, consisting of six projects, includes one proposed by CFS's Ricardo Contreras and Marlynn May of Texas A&M, entitled Community Outreach and Social Support: Promotora Programs on the U.S.-Mexico Border.

"Our participation with Texas A&M is a result of establishing contacts with them during the past year, which included their attending the RTC conference," said Ricardo Contreras, who serves as the project's director. He will work with Marlynn May to build a model of rural health outreach which will actively incorporate residents as outreach workers and as providers of social support. In order to develop such a model, the study will examine a group of promotora programs (natural helpers promoting health ) along the Texas-Mexico border and in Mexico.

"It is expected that the knowledge acquired through this study will be fundamental for the replication of promotora programs in rural Florida within the Mexican migrant population and other groups," added Ricardo.

Creating Environments that Work for All Children

The United States Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), recently awarded Policy's Al Duchnowski and Krista Kutash a $450,000 four-year grant.

The grant, Whole School Reform: Creating Environments that Work for All Children, will be implemented with the help of two schools in Pasco County (Weightman Middle School and Wesley Chapel High School). The staff will explore ways to improve outcomes for all children including those youth in special education by researching and testing mechanisms of school reform. They hope their activities will lead to an environment of improved collaboration between regular and special education staff, students, and parents.

This new project builds upon the previous federally funded efforts coordinated by Krista and Al in Pasco County, and integrates work by Glen Dunlap, Lise Fox, and Bobbie Vaughn within its efforts to improve outcomes for youth.

Additional staff members for the new grant include Susan Sheffield, serving as Project Coordinator, and Kay Harris, data collector and assistant in the implementation of the partnership process.

TIP Transitions to Year 3

Also within the policy area, $186,000 has been issued by the Florida Department of Education for year 3 of the Transition to Independence Process System (TIP). TIP serves students with SED and those in the Juvenile Justice educational program to increase independent behavior in four transition domains of employment, living situations, educational opportunities, and community life.

These funds will enable Rusty Clark and Nicole Deschenes to continue their work with the eight Florida sites. They will issue mini-grants to each site to support continuation and development of best practices for this population. Rusty and Nicole will focus their efforts on technical assistance to the sites and case study development.

Each of these programs are located within divisions of the Department of Child and Family Studies at the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida. Since its inception in 1984, the Institute's mission has been to improve service delivery systems for children with serious emotional or behavioral disabilities and their families.

The Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) is a department of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida. The faculty and staff of CFS are committed to enhancing the development, mental health and well-being of children and families through leadership in integrating research, theory & practice.For additional information, Lise Fox can be reached at (813) 974-6100.

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