CSU Northrige -- December 8, 2003

CSUN Professor Receives Grant to Assess Health, School Readiness of LA County Children

Cal State Northridge Chicano studies professor Juana Mora is teaming up with a researcher from a private, nonprofit management group to assess the health and school readiness of children from birth to five years of age in Los Angeles County.

Mora and Maura Harrington of Los Angeles-based Lodestar Management/Research Inc. have received a $250,000 two-year grant from the First 5 LA Commission for five projects to train and assist community-based organizations in collecting data on children in the county.

"It is an exciting opportunity," Mora said. "There are huge gaps in the databases of the state and county regarding the health and school readiness of ethnic children in Los Angeles County. The purpose of our project is to help these local organizations collect the data and then compare it to the state and county information. Once the community groups have accurate data, they can use the findings to advocate to get whatever is needed in their areas."

Mora said what makes their effort unusual is that she and Harrington will help community-based organizations work with the residents in their communities by identifying what questions need to be asked to get to the root of the problems in their areas, and then getting the residents involved in gathering the data. She said it is called participatory research.

"One of the reasons you bring in the community is that we believe that you get better data if the community is involved," said Mora, author of the book Latino Social Policy: A Participatory Research Model.

Mora and Harrington will be working with:

  • Healthy Homes Collaborative in East Los Angeles to look at poor housing conditions, including lead poisoning, and their impact on the health of children in the area.
  • United American Indian Involvement to assess the mental health needs of American Indian children in Los Angeles County.
  • Community Coalition in South Los Angeles to collect data on the impact of imprisoned parents on the school readiness and health of young children.
  • Communities for a Better Environment in Harrington Park to conduct a general survey on the health disparities of children in that part of Los Angeles County.
  • Special Services for Groups in Long Beach to assess the impact of linguistic isolation on the children of Cambodian and Laotian immigrants.
Given the short period of time to gather all the data in each project, Mora said she will be incorporating the talents of Northridge students to help her and the community groups get the information they need.

"Many of our students are bilingual and have skills that can help us connect with community members in each of these projects," she said.

The First 5 LA Commission was created following voters' approval of Prop. 10 in 1998. Proposition 10 mandated a 50 cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund education, health, child care and other programs to promote early childhood development for expectant parents and children up to age five.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu

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