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Category : Disparities

Dental Therapy Increases Access in Rural Minnesota
Many states across the U.S. are exploring expanding who can provide dental care in an effort to expand access in rural areas and to low-income households. In 2009, Minnesota became the first state to pass a law allowing for the establishment of midlevel oral health professionals who provide preventive, diagnostic, and restorative care for children and adults. These providers, known as dental therapists or advanced dental therapists, can practice in settings that serve low-income, uninsured, and underserved patients.   Dental therapy is still an emerging profession and there are many unknowns about how best to incorporate dental therapists into dental teams. Some people in the dental community believe that dental therapists are an innovative advance in the profession, while others question the financial viability and worry...
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Creating a New Narrative of African American Families
​The African American Babies Coalition is a collective of African Americans who are committed to promoting the healthy development of African American babies. The Coalition brings together parents and grandparents, educators, childcare providers, nonprofit and civic leaders, researchers, and public health professionals from across the Twin Cities. Our goal is to build the capacity of the community to encourage healthy brain development, reduce toxic stress, understand historical trauma, and build practical parenting practices. Recently, the African American Babies Coalition collaborated with Twin Cities’ Public Television to produce short public service announcements (PSA) using all African Americans families. The PSA’s focus on various topics such as how tantrums teach, toxic stress and the myth of spoiling babies. New Representation of Healthy Families The information in these topics isn’t new. However,...
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Hello, Fellows: Meet Chong Lee
​Wilder employees have the opportunity to apply for Kingston Fellowships, an honor awarded annually based on accomplishments, commitment to human services and leadership potential. In March 2016, Wilder awarded fellowships to 11 employees spanning a variety of professional backgrounds. The fellowships help these professionals to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and develop innovative programs to address community concerns. In “Hello, Fellows,” we introduce the 2016 Kingston Fellows. This week, we catch up with Chong Lee. What is your role at Wilder? I’m a program manager for the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood. I manage our partnerships. I manage contract agreements and provide logistical supports to partner programs. One of the roles that the Promise Neighborhood plays in all of our partnerships is support for infrastructure and capacity building....
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​Hello Fellows: Meet Melanie Ferris
Wilder employees have the opportunity to apply for Kingston Fellowships, an honor awarded annually based on accomplishments, commitment to human services and leadership potential. In March 2016, Wilder awarded fellowships to 11 employees spanning a variety of professional backgrounds. The fellowships help these professionals to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and develop innovative programs to address community concerns. In “Hello, Fellows,” we introduce the 2016 Kingston Fellows. This week, we catch up with Melanie Ferris. What is your role at Wilder? My role as a research scientist in Wilder Research involves leading evaluation and research projects focused on community health and children’s mental health. Recently I’ve been working with hospitals and health care systems to conduct community health needs assessments. Another project I just finished involved looking...
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Senseless Killing, but Hope Exists
Wilder Research Executive Director Paul Mattessich​Philando Castile, driving with two passengers, including a four-year-old child, is shot during a police traffic stop. He dies. It’s senseless.What can we do about this? How can we prevent it from happening again?In 2013, when police in the United States committed 461 “justifiable homicides,” police officers in England and Wales killed exactly zero people. Do we in the United States have violent tendencies so much worse than residents of England, so that shooting us becomes necessary in order to maintain the peace? In the Falcon Heights, Minnesota incident, the police officer seems like an upstanding community member, dedicated to helping others. He likely did not go to work expecting or intending to kill someone. Did sufficient information exist in that officer’s mind to justify a...
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What Is Equity?
I suspect that most of us subscribe to the concept of equity in a general sense. But if pressed, could we define it unequivocally? Moreover, could we really commit ourselves to it and strive to achieve it? For example, how would you answer these questions? A child born in one zip code in 2016 will likely live 5 years longer than a child born a few miles away in a different zip code in the very same city. Does this seem fair? A black child born during the past few years in the United States will, on average, live to age 75; a white child born during the same time period will, on average, live to age 79. Does this seem fair? A child living on one...
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Social Research: A Tool for Promoting Justice and Quality of Life
Paul Mattessich​In this digital age, millions of people can tweet instantly about the issues of their choice: economics, jobs, racial disparities, violence, education, transportation, the environment, and so on. News media and advocates can raise awareness and provoke debates. Major social issues all seem to contain pressing challenges that demand solutions as quickly as possible. In this era of instant information is social research still relevant? Does the laborious process of systematically gathering and interpreting information add value? That question focuses on the raison d’etre of Wilder Research and other organizations that do social research. I would suggest that we find social research motivating and fulfilling because we see it as a means to improve the quality of life for all people in a just way. Some...
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Seven Online Resources for Food Access
What are food deserts? And what can we do about them? Through Twin Cities Mobile Market, Wilder uses a retrofitted bus to bring fresh, affordable foods to under resourced neighborhoods in Saint Paul. (Soon, we’ll have two buses!) Food access is a large, complex issue facing many lower-income rural and urban areas of the United States, and our grocery store on wheels is just one part of the solution.   In this blog, Wilder Library staff compiled links to research about food access, including characteristics of areas that lack food access and resources for organizations that work to increase the availability of healthy foods for all.   1. Healthy Eating Research: Food Access Robert Johnson Wood Foundation http://healthyeatingresearch.org/focus-areas/food-access/ Improving access to healthy, affordable foods can help prevent and reduce obesity...
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What is the Right Question to Resolve the Early Learning Debate?
Early childhood figureThe 2015 legislative early childhood debate focused on increasing access to early education, pitting those who favor universal school-based pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds against those who favor targeting scholarships to low-income families for use in any early learning setting rated as providing quality practices that will likely lead to school readiness. What is the right question to help resolve the debate about universal preschool? Several have been suggested, including these from a recent article by Star Tribune editorial writer Lori Sturdevant: How best can Minnesota close the achievement gap? What are we going to do with the 4-year-olds? How can Minnesota best educate children who are at greatest risk of school failure?    The answer, as articulated in my research-based policy brief, Championing Early Childhood Policies that...
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​Food Deserts: Why It Costs Much More to Try to Eat on $29 a Week
Much has been said recently about Gwyneth Paltrow’s Twitter post showing the $29 worth of food she attempted to live on last week in order to raise awareness about cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program. Putting judgments aside (and there have been plenty), what Paltrow has done is spur conversation around food insecurity and the fact that more than 47 million people in the U.S. are feeding themselves and their families on very little. These resources are further diminished with continued cuts to the SNAP program. In addition to these cuts, however, is the issue of food access. In the U.S., 23.5 million people live in “food deserts,” or areas where there’s no grocery store to...
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