Beyond the Walls of Academe: 
Rewards and Challenges of Community Engagement

Presented by Christina J. Groark, Ph.D, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development


"30 Years of Lessons Learned at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development"


The University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development (OCD) has practiced university-community engagement activities for more than 30 years. This has included hundreds of special projects conducted with community partners all funded by outside grants. Based on this experience, lessons learned regarding the operation of a university-community engagement unit and the conduct of community engaged scholarship will be described. Some of the challenges that the engagement endeavor presents to faculty, staff, and students and to traditional research universities will be posed in the hope that other engagement units and individuals will benefit from this work.

Opening remarks by Dean Kinloch. Reception to follow. All are welcome. 

Kazakhstan Adoption Support Program
Our global reach has expanded to help with children being adopted through orphanages in Kazakhstan. Drs. Groark and McCall have been leading and planning this project for the past year. The purpose of this project is to promote academic and social-emotional development by training and coaching professionals to become future trainers for caregivers and adoptive and foster parents in order to provide better support for families. 

This team is spending most of November 2017 in Kazakhstan. So be sure to check back for more updates. 

Early Child Partnerships 
The HealthyCHILD (HC) program, part of Early Childhood Partnerships here at OCD has expanded its local and regional reach. Beginning last year, HC began a new partnership with the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC) and expanded into 2 new settings - Child Cares and a Family Support Center. This year, HC continues to expand its partnerships and is now working with COTRAIC in additional counties in Southwestern PA and with select Pittsburgh Public School’s Kindergarten classrooms. 

Tracy Larson has been leading and planning this expansion for many years. The purpose of HealthyCHILD is to provide on-site consultation, professional development and technical assistance to early childhood professionals and caregivers to promote young children’s social emotional competence and mental wellness. 

The EHS team is implementing a new infant mental health practice-based coaching system based on the pioneering work of practitioners in Michigan. This is an opportunity for staff to grow their IMH skills in order to provide the highest quality home visits and service to families and babies. 

Also, Chris Dunkerly and the EHS team are collaborating with Dr. Danny Shaw on a federal grant that will introduce the Family Check-Up intervention for families and children age 0 to 3. Family Check-Up promotes family engagement in positive behavior support, health limit setting, and relationship building. 

OPRE Grant Announcement

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has recently published two discretionary research funding announcements titled “Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Head Start Graduate Student Research Grants” and “Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Child Care Research Scholars”, which are summarized below.  If you have questions regarding these grant announcements, please email or, respectively, or call 1-877-350-5913. Potential applicants should sign up for updates on to receive notifications and updates regarding these Funding Opportunity Announcements.

Head Start and Child Care Graduate Student Research Grants

The purpose of the Early Care and Education Scholars grants are to support doctoral dissertation research addressing issues related to Head Start and child care. Both funding announcements aim to support work that will inform policy decisions and solutions, particularly for underserved/ understudied populations, utilizing the most rigorous research methodology, and promoting mentor-student relationships that support students’ independent lines of research.

The full announcement for “Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Head Start Graduate Student Research Grants” is available at:

The full announcement for “Early Care and Education Research Scholars: Child Care Research Scholars” is available at:

What is the funding award limit and project period?  Applicants may apply for project periods up to 24 months with two 12-month budget periods. Up to $25,000 may be awarded for each budget period.

What types of research are supported? Proposed projects must address applied research questions that will inform and improve Head Start and/or Early Head Start (for the Head Start Grants) or child care and Child Care and Development Fund (for the Child Care Grants). For suggestions of topics that may be of interest to ACF, please see each full announcement.For information about previous Head Start Graduate Student Research Grants and Child Care Research Scholar Grants , see or ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­, respectively.

When is the application deadline? Letters of intent are due March 1, 2018 and applications are due April 2, 2018. If you have questions regarding these grant announcements, please email,, or call 1-877-350-5913.