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Jan. 12, 2007
CONTACT: Ward Mullens
wmullens@emich.edu 734.487.4400

EMU researcher gets $388,000 grant to help infant mental health

YPSILANTI — Joan M. Abbey, a research scientist with Eastern Michigan University’s College of Health and Human Services, has been awarded a $388,870 grant from the U.S Department of Justice to continue a statewide study related to Michigan’s Infant Mental Health model started in 2005.

Dr. Crystal Mills, professor of social work, and the Institute for Geospatial Research and Education at EMU, are collaborating with Abbey on the study.

“It is personally very exciting to be involved in evaluating this Michigan homegrown model” Abbey said. “Receipt of this highly competitive award from the Department of Justice is acknowledgement of the model’s potential as a best-practice service for vulnerable families with young children and the strength of EMU’s evaluation proposal.”

Receipt of this two-year Field Initiated Research and Evaluation grant from the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will allow the study to run for two more years, and determine if this promising mental health intervention is a best-practice service in reducing child abuse and neglect.

The study, which began with funding from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, is designed to determine the efficacy of Michigan’s Infant Mental Health model with two different at-risk populations: families experiencing first time births/adoptions, and families with second/subsequent births or adoptions. It also will assess the impact of therapist-to-caseload ratio and services duration and intensity on outcomes. Evaluation objectives for the cost analysis include determining the service’s cost-benefit relative to child welfare, and juvenile justice involvement for youth and distributive efficiency.   

The study is being conducted in partnership with four mental health agencies that serve large numbers of families: The Guidance Center and Development Centers, Inc. in Wayne County; Clinton, Eaton, Ingham Community Mental Health Agency in Ingham County; and The Arbor Circle Corporation, in Kent County.

These four state-contracted public mental health providers deliver this home-based service to families where the parents’ depression or other mental disorder places their infant and/or toddler at risk, or families with infants/toddlers already diagnosed as having attachment or regulatory disorders, and/or serious emotional disturbance.

The Infant Mental Health model was developed and implemented in Michigan during the 1980s, and has never undergone a rigorous evaluation

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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