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Media Contacts

Eric Wright
School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
317- 274-8589

Catherine Sherwood-Puzzello
Department of Applied Health Science

Pat Cole
Indiana Institute on Disability and Community

Child and adolescent health in Indiana

Tips from the Indiana Public Health Association conference, May 10-12

EDITORS: Indiana University public health experts will present child and adolescent health care news and research at the Indiana Public Health Association conference, to be held May 10-12 at the Purdue Memorial Union in West Lafayette, Ind. The conference will include presentations by public health professionals from across the state. For more information about the conference, visit

Treatment for juvenile emotional disorders takes a leap forward. "With the new system we established in Marion County, children have only a 15 percent chance of returning to the juvenile justice system or child welfare, compared to the 80 percent return rate that you would normally see," said Eric Wright, associate professor and director of health policy in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The initiative, called the Dawn Project, coordinates services for children with serious emotional problems such as conduct disorder, attention deficit disorder, anxiety disorder, depression or the early symptoms of more serious adult psychiatric disorders. The Dawn Project provides each child with a case management team incorporating the juvenile justice system, child welfare, medical care, and the child's teachers and family. While coordinating the team requires planning and organization, the cost is approximately 60 percent lower than residential care. "In the traditional model, the children coming through our program would normally be in residential care for extended periods. Within the Dawn Project, the average treatment time was 14 months. The teams are able to make collective decisions about what services to provide, so there is no duplication of services, and case managers can provide crossover recommendations for the different areas of the child's treatment," Wright said. Teams also have some discretionary funds to put toward family expenses like summer camp or even the occasional rent check or gas bill. "That small financial assistance can be really critical for these families, because caring for a child with emotional problems can lead to missing work or even getting laid off. If the program can help them get over that bump in the road, it leads to much better outcomes for the child," Wright said. The Dawn Project serves children aged 5 to 17 years and aims to reach children at the earliest onset of symptoms. "One important finding is that the younger the child is when he or she comes to the system, the higher the success rate. A 5-year-old has better than a 95 percent chance of meeting long-term behavioral and educational goals compared to 55 percent for a 17-year old. It's a pretty linear relationship with age," he said.

Wright will present the results of a six-year evaluation of the project on Wednesday (May 10) at the Indiana Public Health Association conference held at the Purdue Memorial Union. He can be reached at 317- 274-8589 or 317-261-3031 or

Making healthy choices "cool" for kids. "Children's museums can be an effective complement to the health education classroom because the community and culture are reinforcing the message that kids hear from their parents and teachers," said Catherine Sherwood-Puzzello, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University Bloomington. She worked as a prevention consultant with community members and high school students to put together an interactive smoking prevention exhibit in Bloomington's WonderLab Museum of Health, Science and Technology. "Kids think WonderLab is a really cool place, so if WonderLab is also saying don't do it, there's added meaning to the message," she said. Fun, sensory components are the keys to engaging children with health education exhibits, she added. "Local high school students made a rap video called 'Don't Start' aimed at third- through sixth-graders. The music and action helped draw kids to the tobacco education message."

Sherwood-Puzzello and graduate student researchers will present the results of a study evaluating the effectiveness of the exhibit as a health education tool on Thursday (May 11) at the Indiana Public Health Association conference held at the Purdue Memorial Union. She can be reached at 812-855-2673 and

Providing answers to child care health questions. How do I know when to isolate a sick child? How can I design an emergency evacuation plan for 250 children? How do I care for the mental health of children who witnessed a trauma while in my care? These are some of the questions that child care providers ask when they call the Indiana Child Care Health Consultant Program at Indiana University Bloomington. With over 3,500 regulated care settings in Indiana and potentially triple that number of unregulated settings, the four child-care health consultants have their hands full. The next step in helping child care providers provide a safe and healthy environment is to connect them to local resources, said program coordinator Pat Cole. "We need more involvement from medical, health and safety professionals to answer child care providers' questions, provide training or assist in resolution of issues like mold," Cole said. She hopes to build a referral system of physicians, safety professionals and other health care workers who can provide some type of support or training for child care providers. "In Indiana, about 70 percent of children under the age of 5 spend an average of 30 hours a week in the care of someone other than a parent," Cole said. "We need to provide more support to those who are caring for our children."

Cole will give a presentation on the child care landscape and the potential roles for health and safety professionals in child care on Wednesday (May 10) at the Indiana Public Health Association conference held at the Purdue Memorial Union. She can be reached at 812-855-6508 and

For assistance with these tips, contact Elisabeth Andrews at 812-856-3717 or 812-219-3183 or, or Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or