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New UC Center Delivers Prevention Programs to Communities

Date: Jan. 15, 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: General News

Rapid growth of outreach programs and research into preventing school violence and student substance abuse has resulted in the newly created University of Cincinnati Center for Prevention Studies, housed in the College of Education. Donald Wagner, human services professor, is director of the center, established during the fall quarter.

The center houses the Ohio Prevention and Education Resource Center/Safe Schools Center, which provides training, technical assistance and resource materials for hundreds of safe and drug-free school programs across Ohio. OPERC is funded by state grants that come in through the University of Cincinnati.

Also under the center is the Head Start Prevention Project, of which Wagner is director, and the new Head Start Distance Education Project, which is teaming with the educational video production company RISE to provide a Head Start training course in a distance learning format. Wagner says $256,000 in funding for the four-hour course (divided into two segments) was provided by the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. The course is available as a continuing education opportunity, free of charge, to Head Start staff around Ohio. Professor Donald Wagner

"What we're going to do this year is compare the distance model to our traditional site model, which typically reaches only 200 Head Start staff each year," Wagner explains. "We have training sites in Cincinnati, Athens, Akron, Perrysburg, Toledo and Columbus. The traditional delivery can be costly and time consuming, but with the distance learning model, we expect to reach four times as many people for roughly the same amount of money. The distance learning delivery could open the door to much greater service, but we want to compare it with the traditional approach to see if we're getting the same outcomes."

The training videos would be broadcast in the Head Start centers and are expected to reach as many as 800 people.

Head Start is a federally funded preschool education program for socially and economically disadvantaged children, but it reaches beyond the preschool age, providing health and prevention services for parents and communities. "Head Start constitutes the early building blocks of developing resilience in children, and that's what prevention is all about," says Wagner. "In addition to building this foundation, Head Start works to help parents understand their role as models and understand the skills they need to develop in order to be effective with their children."

Wagner and Peg Elgas, associate professor of early childhood education, are providing the onsite training, and last summer Wagner and Elgas were videotaped for the distance learning portion of the training program. Keith King, assistant professor of health promotions, will be doing the evaluation of the on-site and distance delivery.


 
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