Georgetown Center Funded to Support Children’s Programs with COVID-19 Recovery

A child's hands play with letter blocks that spell out the word coronavirus
(Image: iStock / Getty Images Plus: Standart)

Posted in GUMC Stories  |  Tagged , , , ,

(February 11, 2021) — The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Head Start has selected the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD) to lead the new National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety (NCHBHS).

Among other objectives, NCHBHS will support capacity building for Head Start and other early childhood programs to “address disaster preparedness, response and recovery,” a critical task during the coronavirus pandemic.

Neal Horen portrait
Neal M. Horen, PhD

GUCCHD, in partnership with the Education Development Center (EDC), will work with a consortium of experts to support Head Start and Early Head Start programs to enhance the well-being of more than one million children and families in low-income communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. NCHBHS is funded with a grant from the Office of Head Start for $2.2 million annually for five years.

“Much of our current work focuses on COVID-19 recovery,” said Neal M. Horen, PhD, director of GUCCHD’s early childhood division. “We have done a great deal of work on disaster recovery over the years, so this is an extension of that work rather than new work.”

The GUCCHD early childhood division has also worked closely with the CDC, which has put the division in a good position to contribute to pandemic response efforts, and Horen has been a part of national efforts dealing with pandemic response, including an emergency child care group.

The funding for NCHBHS is just one of several grants recently received by the early childhood division, including funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to partner on the Training and Resource Center serving the federal home visiting program.

Additionally, Horen is in his second year of directing the Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation supported by SAMHSA, and received funding from the Perigree Foundation to develop a mental health consultation and infant mental health certificate.

Despite the challenging funding environment, Horen attributed the success of the GUCCHD early childhood division to their ability to build strong connections over time with a wide range of funding agencies and potential partners, including the Office of Head Start, SAMHSA, HRSA, foundations such as Perigee and partnerships with EDC, SRI and Georgetown’s Department of Psychiatry.

“Each center has a slightly different focus, but all are designed to support children and families in different parts of the early childhood system,” he said. “I think in terms of future efforts, we plan to pursue more international work.”

Kat Zambon
GUMC Communications