With funding from the Office of Minority Health, the Georgia Department of Public Health, in a strong public and private partnership with other government agencies and community-based organizations, aims to leverage past collective impact successes in chronic disease and language nutrition to create a new curriculum targeting early childhood educators in three unique urban and rural communities and to reduce health disparities.
The partnership includes Emory University, the Marcus Autism Center, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and others. Through this partnership, Georgia will increase the knowledge and capacity of early childhood educators as change agents and coaches, who will model good language and food nutrition practices and coach families in promoting healthy behaviors at home; support a community-based intervention that brings together civic and business leaders to support the educational instruction, increase access to healthy foods and reading materials, and build strong protective factors to support improved outcomes; define a community disparities profile that draws on statewide education and public health data, as well as the input of local experts to define a way of measuring progress toward achieving improved outcomes for language and food nutrition; and, test interventions to assess progress and develop resources and best practices to support implementation of the program in other communities in Georgia, as well as other workforces that have a high degree of influence in the age 0-3 population and their caregivers. Because this project focuses on educating the early childhood educator workforce and family and community engagement to achieve increased long-term outcomes in chronic disease and third-grade reading, the five-year scope of the project will focus on qualitative and quantitative measures that assess progress toward overall disparities as well as toward long-term goals within two leading health indicators— 1) Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity; and 2) Social Determinants of Health. An increasing body of research has determined a correlation between educational attainment and long-term health outcomes such as life expectancy, hypertension, depression, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, obesity, prematurity and infant mortality (Surgeon General’s Report, June 2011).
At the conclusion of the project, Georgia will have tested and disseminated tools for providers and families and improved the health outcomes for children in the targeted communities. The project will be replicated and expanded in years 2-5 as funds permit and lessons are learned from the development and implementation of the tools and profile. The work builds on and compliments other activities funded through the Preventive Health Block Grant and CDC’s 1305 Chronic Disease Cooperative Agreement.