The Sharon D. Lund Foundation has awarded $400,000 to Michele Kipke, PhD, vice chair of Research and division head of Research on Children, Youth and Families. The funding will support research efforts of the Boone Fetter Clinic and the Institute for the Developing Mind to expand community outreach services for children with neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Led by Kipke, the research team has conducted research to understand autism disparities in the diverse communities of Los Angeles and developed new resources to help families navigate and access healthcare services.
Building on previous support from the Foundation, the new funding will support efforts toward improving care for children with ASD through a variety of strategies, which include building the capacity of local community pediatricians to care for the complex needs of children with ASD.
Kipke and her team have demonstrated effective outreach efforts in high-risk, high-disparity Latino communities working with promotores – Latino community members who have received specialized training to provide basic health education in the community without being a professional health care worker. The team seeks to expand on this initiative by developing new outreach and linkage to care models for high-risk and underserved African American communities. Like Latino children, African American children are diagnosed with ASD at a later age than their Caucasian peers. The model for African Americans will be different, however, utilizing a more culturally relevant and sensitive “cultural broker” model, which similarly would introduce education and referrals to families concerned about their children’s development.
The team will also seek to develop a new online tool using cutting-edge mobile health (mHealth) technology to improve the accessibility, availability, and quality of care delivered to families with a child with autism and other neurodevelopmental or behavioral disorders.
“The support of the Sharon D. Lund Foundation has been crucial in our ability to improve the services and resources we provide and to reach more families of children on the autism spectrum,” said Kipke.