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Andy Frey, an associate professor in the Kent School of Social work, along with co-investigator Amy Lingo in the College of Education and Human Development, recently received a nearly $1 million grant to research and develop activities that will adapt the First Step to Success early intervention program for effective use with children in Head Start and pre-school.

Adapting 'first step to success'

Andy Frey, an associate professor in the Kent School of Social Work, along with co-investigator Amy Lingo in the College of Education and Human Development, recently received a nearly $1 million grant to research and develop activities that will adapt the First Step to Success early intervention program for effective use with children in Head Start and pre-school.

The $947,766 is a subcontract with the Oregon Research Institute, which was awarded more than $3 million from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development to complete more than five years of the First Step research. Frey and Lingo will implement project activities in Kentucky, in collaboration with the Jefferson County Public School System’s early childhood program.

"The project builds on several years of successful collaboration between the JCPS early childhood program and the University of Louisville, forwards the mission of the university's Signature Partnership Initiative and work within the early childhood program so the children and families can benefit from the grant well beyond the life of the project," Frey says.

First Step is a collaborative home and school intervention program (delivered by a behavioral coach and lasting approximately two months) that is geared for regular kindergarten classroom settings and designed to help at-risk children get off to the best start possible in their school careers. The program is an early intervention designed to achieve secondary prevention goals and outcomes within the context of schooling.

The adapted version of the First Step program would provide Head Start and other preschool consumers, staff and professionals with a proven intervention option that will produce the following benefits:

1) Amelioration and/or elimination of serious behavior problems such as aggression, opposition- defiance, and other indicators of emerging antisocial behavior and externalizing behavior disorders; 2) Improvements in the target child’s critically important relationships with the key social agents of parents and caregivers, teachers and peers; and 3) substantially improved school readiness.

Frey and Lingo began piloting the intervention in six classrooms in January. In the first four years of the research, 60 classrooms will be recruited in JCPS. In half of these classrooms, two children per classroom screened to be at high risk for the development of challenging behaviors will be recruited based on screening data. In years two to five of the project, they will collect follow-up data in kindergarten and first grade. Over 5 years, the full First Step intervention will be delivered to approximately 65 children and their families and approximately 65 teachers and the support staff that support these teachers will receive professional development focusing on promoting social development through positive, proactive intervention strategies.

Perry evaluating innovative after-school program

Armon Perry

Armon Perry, an assistant professor at Kent School, recently partnered with the Canaan Community Development Corporation to conduct an evaluation of its Sons of Issachar Academy after school program.

Perry, whose research interests include fathers’ involvement in families and African American families, is studying the program, which serves 65 boys, grades 3 through 8, from more than 50 families residing in Louisville’s south and west ends.

The academy’s primary goal is to facilitate the growth and development of its participants through academic improvements and pro-social decision making. To reach these goals, the boys receive homework assistance, computer literacy training and career exploration workshops.

The boys are also matched with a male mentor who serves as a positive role model for appropriate and responsible behavior.


New Orleans Practicum

Kent School faculty and students

Kent School of Social Work Dean Terry Singer (middle) recently visited with Kent faculty member Carol Tully and social work students Aaron Armstrong (left) and Leslie Hester in New Orleans, where Armstrong and Hester are doing a practicum during the spring 2009 semester. Under the direction of Tully, the students are concentrating on an area called Central City and are working in conjunction with Central City Community Center. Armstrong says the skills he learns in his field practice will easily be transferred to Louisville neighborhoods. "The issues are not specific to New Orleans alone, even though the event of Katrina highlighted them and made a bad situation worse," he says. Armstrong and Hester are assessing the needs of the area, and once a common theme is found, they will create a plan of action to alleviate the problem.

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