Eastern Michigan University social work professor Sarah Shea to launch training program teaching foster and adoptive parents about infant mental health

Grant of $100,000 to fund Shea’s work comes from Michigan Health Endowment Fund

Eastern Michigan University social work professor Sarah Shea to launch training program teaching foster and adoptive parents about infant mental health

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University professor Sarah Shea has received a $100,000 grant to initiate a program to support the health and mental health of infants and toddlers in foster care.

“Infant mental health refers to the social and emotional development of very young children, which has lifelong implications for health, mental health, and relationship outcomes,” said Shea. “Infants and toddlers in foster care are particularly at risk for infant mental health challenges, and their unique relational needs require focused attention.”

Beginning May 1, the program will assess the coverage of infant mental health in the current PRIDE training (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) given to all foster and adoptive parents in Michigan.

Then, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Shea will write new training curriculum. The updated curriculum will appear in the PRIDE manual, the PRIDE training video, and the monthly PRIDE training delivered in-person to new foster and adoptive parents.

Materials with the new infant mental health curriculum will be distributed in the fall in Washtenaw, Jackson, Monroe, Branch, Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Livingston counties. Evaluations will determine the updated curriculum’s effectiveness.

Shea received the grant for the program through the 2018 Community Health Impact Awards by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of health care, with a special focus on children and seniors. More information about the Health Fund can be found at the endowment fund website.

The Health Fund will support the program’s development and pilot implementation, as well as evaluations of the training’s effectiveness.

“I hope that this pilot will be expanded to offer important infant mental health training content to all foster and adoptive parents across the state of Michigan so that foster and adoptive parents receive support to provide infants and toddlers in foster care with the secure relationships they need for healthy social and emotional development,” said Shea.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

May 09, 2018

Written by:
Alyssa Schad

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom