The Child Health Policy Program collaborates with a variety of stakeholders to answer research questions that inform policy, practice and local investments. All research projects use a community-oriented approach to investigate the intersection of social structures, neighborhoods, families and children. The program’s most recent projects are presented below.
Topic area: Early Childhood Brain Development
- Parenting program in Women, Infants and Children clinics: Our program has partnered with the city of Houston and Harris County to develop and pilot an evidence-based parenting course for WIC-eligible mothers and pregnant women. The program, the Brain Builders Parenting Course, aims to empower WIC participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to optimize their child's brain development in a safe, supportive environment. The six-class course is currently being taught at three WIC clinics across Houston and Harris County. This project is part of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child’s Frontiers of Innovation Portfolio.
- Evaluation of city-wide ECD intervention: In response to Hurricane Harvey, our program partnered with the mayor’s office, UNICEF and First3Years to coordinate and evaluate a trauma-informed parenting curriculum for childcare workers and parents of young children throughout the Houston area. The impact of the curriculum, which was designed to help childcare workers and parents identify and respond to signs of trauma in children, was evaluated by our program. As a result, the city of Houston issued a proclamation designating Oct. 2, 2018 as “Dr. Quianta Moore Day” for her role in research that informs policies that improve the lives of children in Houston.
Topic area: Generation of Original Data
- Neighborhood Needs Assessments: Our program, in partnership with other local organizations and neighborhood residents, conducted an in-depth survey of the health, economic well-being, and important social factors of households in Houston’s Third Ward and Sunnyside neighborhoods. The research findings are available to policymakers, philanthropic organizations, community members, and government agencies via research reports and manuscripts and the Kinder Institute data platform. https://kinder.rice.edu/houston-community-data-connections
- School Needs Assessment: In collaboration with the Houston Independent School District, the Child Health Policy Program investigated the ways in which student mental and physical health, neighborhood adversity, school atmosphere, food insecurity, and a variety of other environmental, social, and emotional factors affect academic outcomes. The program's study surveyed 30,000 students and 9,000 parents in over 110 HISD elementary, middle, and high schools. The findings are being used to help local educators and policymakers develop solutions for disparities in academic performance.
Topic area: Policy and Regulatory Frameworks that Impact Maternal and Child Health
- Maternal Mortality: This research project will examine state laws regulating maternal mortality case reviews and make policy recommendations regarding Texas’ interpretation of the statutes. Additionally, Child Health Policy Fellow Quianta Moore sits on a local Maternal Morbidity and Mortality task force to support efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates across Harris County.
- Opiates: The program will conduct an analysis of the longitudinal associations between county-level child maltreatment rates (as reported by Texas Department of Family and Protective Services) and opiate distributions (from the ARCOS data release) to increase understanding and awareness of the impact of the opiate crisis on child welfare.