The Burke Foundation Awards Support to Help Young Children and Families Thrive

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Burke Foundation Awards Support to Help Young Children and Families Thrive

The Burke Foundation awarded $2 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 to non-profit organizations in New Jersey working to improve prenatal and child health.

New Jersey has one of the country’s worst records for child health and wellbeing, especially among under-resourced communities, despite being one of the wealthiest states in terms of per capita income.

The Burke Foundation seeks to improve this situation by funding the most promising and transformative programs and policies that foster the health, well-being and resilience of children and families in the state.

New Jersey ranks 47th among the 50 U.S. states for maternal mortality, and its rate of more than 46 deaths per every 100,000 live births is nearly 50 percent greater than the national average. The situation is even more dire for Black women and babies: A Black mother in New Jersey is seven times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than a white mother, and the preterm birth rate for Black infants in New Jersey is 13.3%, which is 51% higher than the rate for white infants in the state. New Jersey also ranks in the bottom third of states for children being up to date on immunizations at age two (35th out of 50), with stark disparities across socio-economic and racial lines.

The Burke Foundation believes that addressing these disparities requires investment in high-quality, scalable programming that prioritizes young children and families. Investments in the earliest years promote better health outcomes in the short term and provide significant social and economic returns in the long term. These new grants reflect the Foundation’s deep commitment to supporting nurturing, responsive relationships between caregivers and young children to foster health, well-being, and resilience for a lifetime.

David Willis, M.D., Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, applauded these new investments. “As a pediatrician and policymaker, I am pleased to see the Burke Foundation’s emphasis on early relational health,” he said. “Having supportive, nurturing relationships early in life has been shown to bolster a child’s resilience and lead to better social, emotional and physical health outcomes.”

  • In collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, the Burke Foundation is launching Family Connects in Mercer County, the first postnatal universal home-visiting pilot in the state. Burke awarded $500,000 to Trenton Health Team to launch this evidence-based model for all parents who deliver at Capital Health, where most women in Trenton give birth. The pilot aims to serve about 1,900 families over three years and improve care coordination and health outcomes at a population level.
  • The Burke Foundation is supporting Centering Healthcare Institute with an initial $300,000 grant as part of a multi-year initiative to scale and sustain the evidence-based Centering model. The grant supports implementation of the group care model, aimed at improving birth outcomes and reducing racial health disparities, at 10 new clinical sites across New Jersey.
  • As part of a national initiative, Reach Out and Read New Jersey (RORNJ) will partner with experts to develop and evaluate a new pediatric training program that will incorporate a focus on early relational health into well-child visits. The Burke Foundation grant of $91,722 to RORNJ supports activities including field-testing the program at two New Jersey community health centers.
  • The Burke Foundation has awarded $200,500 to the Reinvestment Fund and Child Care Connection to conduct a mapping analysis of supply and demand for child care in Mercer County. These activities will generate a deep understanding of the barriers to accessing and providing high-quality care for infants and toddlers along with actionable strategies to improve access to quality child care for families.
  • The Burke Foundation has provided a $300,000 grant to Mount Sinai Parenting Center to create a Parent Video Series that will be paired with the 14 standard pediatric well-child visits from birth to age five. The series will include short videos that introduce age-related health issues alongside practical ways to promote cognitive, social and emotional development in children.
  • The Foundation for Educational Administration (FEA) was awarded a $180,000 grant to develop and advance a new model for a healing-centered education system in New Jersey. FEA is working with a coalition of education and mental health organizations, public agencies, community members and funders to launch this pilot initiative in 25 New Jersey public schools in early 2021. The program will include training for more than 500 school administrators, staff and teachers in trauma-informed and healing-centered engagement practices.
  • The Burke Foundation is supporting Montclair State University’s Center for Autism & Early Childhood with a $200,000 grant to expand an evidence-based model to coach, support and train early childhood educators in northern New Jersey. Funding will enable 32 childcare centers to work with a certified consultant to receive training, coaching and support over the course of multiple weeks. The grant will also support a first-of-its-kind evaluation of these services in New Jersey, positioning the model for further statewide expansion.
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