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UWM partnership helps establish Institute for Child and Family Well-being

Children’s Hospital and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee(UWM) Helen Bader School of Social Welfare recently announced a new joint effort, the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being (ICFW), an academic-community partnership to improve the lives of children and families facing complex challenges such as violence, incarceration or extreme poverty. ICFW comprises three core service areas: designing and implementing effective programs, conducting cutting-edge research and evaluation, and promoting change through policy and advocacy.

This work is critical because nearly one-third of children in Milwaukee (30.5 percent) have had at least two adverse childhood experiences – such as maltreatment, neglect, violence or extreme poverty – which is significantly higher than the national average of 22.6 percent, according to the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health. In fact, there are enough kids in Milwaukee with two or more adverse childhood experiences to fill Miller Park, with another 6,000 waiting in line. Research has proven that childhood adversity actually interrupts kids’ brain development, causing increased likelihood of mental health problems, substance abuse, juvenile delinquency and teen pregnancy, in addition to poor long-term health outcomes and decreased academic achievement, which can lead to long-term employability issues.

“Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s vision is that Wisconsin children will be the healthiest in the nation,” said Peggy Troy, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. “But healthy doesn’t just mean that they aren’t sick or hurt. It means that they have the medical, emotional and social support systems and resources necessary to reach their full potential. The new Institute for Child and Family Well-Being will help us do just that. At Children’s, treating kids is our life’s mission. We’re thankful for the continued support of our partners like UWM, who help ensure that every kid receives the best care possible.”

"The launch of the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being opens the door to a new day of partnership with significant societal impact,” said Chancellor Mark Mone, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “The work of the ICFW will extend far beyond the walls of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. This collaborative partnership reaches into the homes and schools of our communities with social impacts that span the region. Equally important is the engaged research that will direct practices, programs and policies that promote health and well-being. Together, we are transforming lives.”

ICFW is located at the Children’s Hospital Community Services building. Gabriel McGaughey, director of well-being at Children’s, and Joshua Mersky, associate professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will serve as co-directors of the Institute.

To view a video about ICFW, visit the Children’s Hospital blog.

Press release appeared on Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Wisconsin Health News, April 29 and May 2, 2016.

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