USF Office of Community Engagement Funds Two CFS Projects
Congratulations to CFS faculty Drs. Sharon Hodges and Teresa Nesman for receiving funding from the USF Office of Community Engagement’s (OCE) Research That Matters Faculty/Community Partner Grant Program. The program supports research that focuses on community identified issues, and is intended to support pilot work on research projects that have the potential for a long lasting impact. The projects funded are:
- Building School-Child Welfare Collaboration for Children and Youth in Foster Care: The OCE funding will support Dr. Sharon Hodges’ work to examine how increased collaboration between public schools and child welfare agencies might improve educational outcomes for children and youth involved in Florida’s foster care system. The study builds upon an existing project (RUN grant) directed by CFS's Dr. Kim Crosland and funded by the Institute of Education Sciences that involves collaboration between CFS, the School Districts of Polk and Pasco Counties, and the child welfare agencies, Heartland for Children (Polk) and Eckerd Youth Alternatives (Pasco). The RUN project collected data related to interactions between local child welfare and education systems in Pasco and Polk Counties. “Because the purpose of the IES study is to develop a child-level assessment and intervention tool, the team was not funded to do analyses of the system-level data related to interagency collaboration,” said Dr. Hodges. “Working with the RUN project team, the Research that Matters grant will allow us to do the system level analyses and will position us to apply for an IES systems research grant.”
- Apopka Family Learning Intervention Mapping Project: The OCE funding will support a partnership between Dr. Teresa Nesman and the Apopka Learning Center (AFLC) in Orange County, Florida. AFLC has primarily served the local Hispanic/Latino population for 35 years offering programs to support afterschool, summer academic enrichment, and parent engagement activities. A recent analysis has revealed the need for prevention and early intervention supports, as well as new strategies to address a more diverse population in ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and employment status. To guide this strategic planning and programmatic decision-making, Dr. Nesman will obtain data by creating a community map of resources and gaps; conducting focus groups with residents and service recipients to obtain information about services and supports needed by families with young children ages zero to five; and comparing elements of an evidence-based practice with the identified needs, resources, and challenges. This research process will benefit AFLC by providing targeted information to develop strategies for early interventions with young children in their community.