Featured Scholar

Tamara Leech, IUPUI Translational Scholar

Featured Scholar : Tamara Leech, PhD

Assistant Professor, IU School of Liberal Arts

Influence of the Grassroots WISE program on Teen Mothers

Women's Information and Support Exchange (WISE) across Generations was a direct result of an ISDH-sponsored Community Conversation on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting conducted August 5th and 6th, 2011. These large-scale community conversations brought sixty community members from the Indianapolis Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood together in focus groups and conversations to safely and openly address taboo issues and share experiences related to teen pregnancy. Analyses of conversation data revealed that community members were more likely to draw on informal, rather than formal, sources of support, specifically networks of women-mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and family friends - who fulfill the needs related to well-being of teen mothers, teen fathers, and their children. In response, the research team collaborated with participants who wanted to take the lead in developing a new program to design and implement the WISE across Generations program. WISE formalizes relationships between mature women and adolescents through an intentional program of reciprocal communication. A pilot program of WISE across Generations was implemented in the community and evaluated using a pre-test/post-test design with comparison in outcomes across levels of participation. Results indicate that the program may be an important resource for younger adolescent mothers from very low income families. This is promising as those are characteristics that represent both a high-risk population for undesirable parenting outcomes and difficult to reach populations. Through reliance on both qualitative and quantitative measures in collaborative design, implementation, and assessment, WISE effectively translated academic and community knowledge to meet pressing public needs. Findings from the program support extended implementation of the program in specific, low-income neighborhoods.

Dr. Leech's work to assess the impact of a grassroots program on teen mothers demonstrates how IUPUI's faculty members are TRANSLATING their RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE.


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