Tag Archives: lisa tams

Ensuring access to high-quality programs in District 11

Photo of an adult hand holding a baby's hand in focus, blankets and pillows in the background of the shot are blurred.

Lisa Tams is a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator located at the Western Wayne County office, and she serves District 11 in the area of social-emotional health and well-being. One of the key community partners she has engaged to expand her programming is the Wayne County Third Circuit Court. For over three years, through this partnership Extension has served more than 2,500 court-ordered Wayne County families and individuals with children through parenting programs such as Kids First and Alternatives to Anger for high-conflict co-parents. The goals of these programs are to improve parental skills and knowledge in effective co-parenting, and to decrease the risk of negative outcomes in the social-emotional health and well-being of their children as they go back and forth between two homes.

Lisa and her colleagues are currently working on a large expansion of Extension’s partnership with the court to provide another community-based parent education program that will differ in scope and size from our current programs but have the same basic goals: to strengthen families and improve child well-being. Through this new initiative, Lisa and her team will work to educate and support custodial single mothers who engage not only with the Third Circuit Court but also with the Department of Human Services. Their education programs will reach custodial single mothers who seek to establish paternity and acquire the skills and knowledge to begin co-parenting with a partner who has been absent from the child and custodial parent’s life for an extended period of time. This expansion is being funded through a $389,000 annual allocation to Extension from the county, and we expect full implementation of the pilot program by late summer.  Lisa and her team are excited for this new opportunity with the Third Circuit Court to expand their important shared work of improving the lives and functional well-being of children and families throughout Wayne County.

“From my experience with the Third Circuit Court, I have learned that strategic connections are a very effective and important way to combine expertise, target resources and reduce duplication of services between organizations with the same mission,” Lisa said. “The only way to effectively meet the high need for educational and support programs for families and children in a place like Wayne County, where the need is great and the resources are scarce, is to join forces with other trusted organizations, use the unique strengths of each partner, leave self-interest out of the equation, and work toward streamlining access to high quality programs and services for the communities, families and individuals we serve.”

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National Children’s Study launched in Wayne County

I had the privilege of attending the kick-off ceremony for the National Children’s Study in Wayne County, yesterday, Jan. 26, at the Detroit Athletic Club. The study has been launching at different times in different counties across the U.S. for the past three months. Wayne County is considered one of the initial or “vanguard” counties where the first phase of the study is being initiated.

 The National Children’s Study will be the largest and most detailed study focused on children’s health and development in the history of the United States. The study will examine the effects of environment, as broadly defined to include factors such as air, water, diet, sound, family dynamics, community and cultural influences, and genetics, on the growth, development and health of more than 100,000 children across the U.S., following them from before birth to age 21. The goal of the study is to improve the health and well-being of children and to contribute to an understanding of the role of the environment in the development of health and disease. Ultimately, this understanding should help us to prevent maladies such as cerebral palsy, premature birth, autism and others.

The Michigan Alliance for the National Children’s Study (MANCS), a coalition of researchers and physicians from major health and academic institutions, is conducting the study in Michigan. These institutions include Michigan State University, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Community Health, Detroit Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Henry Ford Health System. Dr. Nigel Paneth, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at MSU, leads MANCS with an executive committee of researchers from each institution. Dr. Jean Kerver is study coordinator.

Michigan State University Extension is working with Drs. Paneth and Kerver as part of the collaboration. Dr. Steve Lovejoy, MSUE associate director, is a co-investigator on the project. Dr. Lovejoy and Lisa Tams, MSU Extension educator, have been on the community outreach and engagement team and have helped lay the foundation for the study in Wayne County. They have done a tremendous amount of work in order to see the study come to fruition. One of MSUE’s primary roles is to lead the effort in recruiting prospective mothers from the study area to participate in the research study. Lisa is working closely with medical professionals across Wayne County who provide care to women of childbearing age and to children. Lisa and Steve are joined in the community outreach group by Dr. Bob Brown, associate director of University-Community Partnerships, MSU Outreach and Engagement.

 The study will take place in four additional counties in Michigan – Genesee, Grand Traverse, Lenawee and Macomb. These counties will be phased in over the next few years. MSUE will play the same role in community outreach and engagement in these counties as we are in Wayne.

 MSUE also has representation on the Community Advisory Board for the study, with Dr. George Rowan, professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, and Gerrylynn McNeal, Extension program associate from Wayne County, serving as two of the 17 board members.

 We look forward to working and building capacity for the study in Michigan for years to come and appreciate Steve’s and Lisa’s leadership in making sure that the study benefits from MSUE’s unique role in communities.

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