This notice announces the opportunity to apply for funding for the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network (BWG). Previous research has found that on average, by age three, children from low-income families knew less than half of the amount of words compared to children from more economically advantaged families (i.e., 500 words versus 1100 words).1 This word gap negatively impacts early language learning, educational attainment, health care-seeking, and socioeconomic outcomes in later years. The purpose of this program is to establish and maintain a national, multi-site, collaborative Research Network to develop, test, and promote effective interventions for supporting the enrichment of the early home learning environments of children from underserved2 families for whom there are limited interventions or existing interventions are ineffective.
• Lead, promote, and coordinate national research activities to support the enrichment of early home learning environments experienced by children from underserved families relative to children from families with greater resources;
• Develop and maintain an infrastructure to support a portfolio of interdisciplinary research to foster the implementation of multi-site intervention research studies to support the enrichment of children’s early home learning environments;
• Coordinate a plan to enhance the research, training and mentorship of diverse emerging MCH investigators through the use of innovative mentorship/research experiences and manuscript development;3 and
• Expand the evidence base and disseminate study findings to key stakeholders including parents, educators, researchers, policymakers, and relevant professionals in the health and community sectors.
The recipient of the cooperative agreement should leverage existing work in the field, as appropriate, and extend the impact of HRSA’s existing programs and resources. The BWG research network should collaborate with researchers, health care practitioners, early childhood educators, policymakers, civic leaders and funders to advance a coordinated national research agenda to develop individual, community, and population-based interventions4 to support the enrichment of early home learning environments for
underserved children. Identification and dissemination of information on effective strategies allows parents and relevant professionals in the health and community sectors to create stronger early home learning environments and promote all children’s readiness for kindergarten.
Eligibility is limited to domestic public or non-profit institutions of higher learning and public or private non-profit agencies engaged in research or in programs relating to maternal and child health and/or services for children with special health care needs (42 CFR § 51a.3(b)). Domestic faith-based and community-based organizations, tribes, and tribal organizations are eligible to apply.
Lisa Hund, MPH