Children in the Community

Over a period of twenty years the child faculty in psychology have developed programs addressing the problems of children that have emerged in the complex multi-cultural community of Miami.  To do this we have worked with colleagues in other parts of the University and many community agencies.  Our activities include some highly visible programs such as the Psychological Services Center, the Linda Ray Intervention Center for infants and toddlers who were prenatally exposed to cocaine, and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.  The local media have featured numerous articles about various aspects of our work.  The programs have garnered philanthropic support and substantial external funding from both state and federal agencies.  Two NIH and an IES training grant support both graduate student and postdoctoral stipends.

Examples of our active research programs include those on children with disabilities, children served by Head Start, those who are at risk for learning problems, emotional difficulties or substance abuse, youth in the juvenile justice system and those who experience domestic violence.  Other thrusts are to develop tools to validly assess children from multi-cultural backgrounds so that they are appropriately placed in educational programs and efforts concerned with the very high rate of problems among children living in poverty.  A particular concern is the behavioral needs of children who suffer from chronic illness.  To provide information sought by policy makers about these issuers we have developed extensive expertise in the management and linkage of very large electronic databases including school, juvenile justice, social-service and health records.  This has placed us in a unique position to address questions about the impact of social and demographic change on services and the long-term effectiveness of interventions.

The problems we have been concerned with occur in all segments of society but they are disproportionately prevalent among children from minority cultural groups.  They are common problems among children raised in environments characterized by inter-generational poverty.  While the topics we study are particularly salient to the people of South Florida, these issues are also of concern to policy makers nationally and worldwide.