CREP Tapped to Evaluate Multi-Million Dollar Health Initiative

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) was recently awarded $5 million by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help improve maternal and infant health in lower income areas. To assist in this process, The University of Memphis School of Public Health (SPH) will prepare students to add manpower to the initiative. UofM’s Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) has also been chosen to evaluate the project’s data and community impacts.

“These community partnerships and cross-department collaborations are important to our center and the health of the university (of Memphis) and our community,” said Cindy Muzzi, CREP’s Assistant Director.

The Live Long initiative will provide services to expecting and new parents such as childbirth classes, fatherhood courses, and infant safety care classes, among other resources.

Along with UofM, SCHD is partnering with Regional One Health’s Hollywood Primary Care Clinic (HPCC) and the Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court (MSCJC), which will house the operation. The School of Public Health plans to provide 10 master’s and doctoral level graduate assistants to work as care coordinators. To help SCHD determine impacts and how the program can develop and improve over time, CREP will collect data on families who participate and oversee the required reporting of the program.

CREP Director Dr. Todd Zoblotsky said, “We are committed to providing objective assessment and actionable insights to the project team, with the goal of improving the project’s efficiency and effectiveness, as well as determine the project’s impact on the community, infant health, and the experience of expectant/new mothers.”

In a media release, Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor said, “Black infants born in Shelby County are twice as likely as White infants to die before their first birthday, and Black mothers in our community are 2.6 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related conditions as White mothers. This (grant) will serve as a catalyst to bring a community-based care model to populations most in need.”

Live Long’s funding comes from Health Start grants through HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), as part of a larger, nationwide $105 million Enhancing Maternal Health Initiative, designed to support the health care and social needs of mothers and infants in vulnerable populations and high-need communities. The $5 million to SCHD will span the next five years.