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Past Projects

These projects are projects that have been completed within the past five years. For older projects, please go to Resources/Archived Reports

Community-Based Development of a Pilot Program to Promote Health Among Urban Latino Youth in a School-Based Setting

Principal Investigator: Michelle Johnson-Motoyoma, PhD; Paula Fite, PhD; Michelle Levy, AM

Research Staff: Mindi Moses, GRA; Tiffany Koloroutis, MSW Research Fellow

Positive youth development programs can prevent adolescent pregnancy and substance use by building skills, strengthening the family, engaging youth in meaningful roles and activities, and communicating expectations. Moreover, positive youth development programs may achieve an economy of promotional and preventive effects by addressing common risk factors across a variety of youth outcomes. The purpose of this study was to develop and implement a pilot program to prevent adolescent pregnancy, HIV/STIs, and substance use among Latino youth in Kansas City, Missouri, through community-based research with students, teachers, and school administrators. This project was funded by the University of Kansas Strategic Initiative Grant Program.

Published articles from this research:

Fite, P., Hendrickson, M., Evans, S., Rubens, S., Johnson-Motoyama, M., & Savage, J. (2014). Associations between proactive and reactive subtypes of aggression and lifetime substance use in a sample of predominately Hispanic adolescents. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, 23(6), 388-406. doi: 10.1080/1067828X.2012.748440

Fite, P. J., Gabrielli, J., Cooley, J. L., Haas, S. M., Frazer, A., Rubens, S. L., & Johnson-Motoyama, M. (2014). Hope as a moderator of the associations between common risk factors and frequency of substance use among Latino adolescents. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. doi: 10.1007/s10862-014-9426-1

Fite, P., Johnson-Motoyama, M., Rubens, S., & Peaches, A. (2013). Risk for being a teen parent: The influence of proactive and reactive aggression in a sample of Latino youth. Child Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s12187-013-9217-3

School-Based Mental Health: A Review of the National Literature
Principal Investigator: Chris Petr, PhD, LSCSW

Project Staff: Uta M. Walter, PhD

Project Completed: Feb 2007

The evidence base for the effectiveness of School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) programs is slowly gaining robustness and indicates that SBMH programs can have a positive impact on individual students' attendance, behavioral, and academic functioning, as well as on system-level outcomes. Based on a review of the national literature, this report summarizes current knowledge including ten principles of best practice suggested in the literature, interventions for various presenting problems, models presently used across different states, questions regarding the implementation and sustainability of programs, strategies for financing SBMH, and information about available national resources.

Full Report (pdf)

Youth Success

Principal Investigators:  Stephanie Bryson, PhD, MSW; Megan O’Brien, PhD, MPH; Ronna Chamberlain

Project Partners: USD 500; PACES, Inc.; Mattie Rhodes Center; University of Kansas School of Medicine

The goal of Youth Success was to remove access barriers to mental health services among students from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods such as those in Wyandotte County, KS. The project operated from 2007 to 2012, with financial support from the KU School of Social Welfare, the REACH Foundation and the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Youth Success was an innovative, school-based mental health initiative focused on closing the gap between service need and access by utilizing an individualized “robust referral” process and a primary prevention approach to school-wide, trauma-informed education. Together, the staff and social work interns brought a strong commitment to go beyond rhetoric in building capacity for true cultural competence among social work providers by: 1) enhancing culture-specific knowledge among social work interns; 2) teaching an “ethnographic” approach to intercultural interactions in which social workers remain attuned to various vectors of identity that may be more or less salient for the family/child in question; 3) identifying culturally-consonant treatment approaches in mental health treatment of populations of color; and 4) identifying successful strategies for parent outreach in high poverty communities.

The most compelling evidence of the program’s effectiveness was our ability to facilitate mental health services for the hardest-to-reach, most underserved populations. With our network of strong partners, Youth Success succeeded in breaking down barriers to the receipt of appropriate, high quality mental health services. During its five years in operation, Youth Success facilitated more than 5,213 hours of mental health care. More than 50% of referred students have been Latino/Hispanic, and nearly two-thirds had been uninsured on first contact. Youth Success also facilitated enrollment in Health Wave and Medicaid for roughly one-third of this uninsured subgroup.


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