May 31, 2002

Los Angeles — Would you know what to do if your child were running a temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit or vomiting for 24 hours? Do you know the best way to treat a runny nose and cough? If the answer is no, you are not alone.

A group of Head Start directors, working in partnership with Johnson & Johnson and UCLA Anderson, realized that many parents do not know how to treat common childhood illnesses and decided to do something about it. Together, they developed a health care training program designed to assist parents in properly managing the health care needs of their children. Simultaneously, UCLA Anderson is conducting a study of this pilot program to determine its effectiveness.

Four Head Start agencies were selected as pilot sites for the study, which includes more than 400 participating parents, according to UCLA Anderson's Ariella Herman, Ph.D., who is heading the research team. The training programs were conducted over a 30-day period in the fall of 2001. The study incorporated Gloria Mayer's easy-to-read book, "What to Do When Your Child Gets Sick," which teaches parents how to take care of their children.

"Our previous research has shown that many parents lack a basic understanding of children's health care issues," said Dr. Herman, who is a senior lecturer at UCLA Anderson. "We hope that this training will help parents to address these issues, and if it is successful, serve as a model for health care training of Head Start parents nationwide."

Dr. Herman is very familiar with the issues of Head Start parents and families, having taught in UCLA Anderson's Head Start-Johnson & Johnson Management Fellows Program for more than a decade. She was recognized with the program's first "Outstanding Head Start Faculty Award" in 2000 for her consistently high ratings from program participants.

"We are delighted that Dr. Herman has chosen to lead this groundbreaking study, and we are honored to partner with Head Start and the Harold Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UCLA Anderson in this effort," said Alfred T. Mays, Johnson & Johnson vice president, corporate contributions and community relations. "The potential implications for children, families, and our health care system are enormous."

Herman's study, to be completed in June 2002, will use surveys, focus groups, and informal interviews with parents, as well as with Head Start health care and parent coordinators, to evaluate the effectiveness of the training. Indications of benefits from the training plan would include increased parental awareness and quicker response to health warning signs, utilization of the training manual as a household reference tool, reduced parental stress related to children's health issues, and fewer school absences and emergency room visits.

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