The Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has been awarded a federal grant totaling more than $3 million from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Mailman Center is a federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) that assists individuals with developmental disabilities and children with special health care needs through research, clinical service, training for professionals, parental workshops, and advocacy. The new grant — which began July 1, 2022, and will run through June 30, 2027 — represents ongoing federal funding for programs that began in 1967.
The Mailman Center will apply the new grant to a variety of initiatives. Daniel Armstrong, Ph.D., director of the Mailman Center and the principal investigator for this grant, explained the scope of the programs.
“This five-year award will support innovative initiatives related to the use of technology to address needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities; development of a curriculum focused on social justice and equity related to disability; improved access to behavioral and mental health services for individuals with disabilities; and creation of a curriculum to involve children, adolescents and adults with disabilities, and their family members, in all aspects of the research process,” he said.
More specifically, Dr. Armstrong said that the Mailman Center will:
- expand and evaluate the use of technology — telehealth, web-based interventions, artificial intelligence — in addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities,
- elaborate an integrated curriculum to support social justice and equity within the Mailman Center and with its community partners, such as those in Overtown, East Little Havana, and the Northeast Corridor,
- design and implement a research training program that promotes inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in all aspects of the research process, not just as participants, and
- develop and evaluate innovative approaches to assessing and treating behavioral and mental health challenges facing individuals with disabilities.
With the last five-year UCEDD grant, the Mailman Center was able to provide disability training for 442 graduate trainees, 70% who were from underrepresented minority backgrounds; provide continuing education to 2,800 community professionals; provide clinical services to over 75,000 children and families; work with community partners to expand capacity at the community level for individuals with disabilities; create innovative programs to improve health access needs for children and adults with disabilities during COVID-19; and had over $149 million in leveraged funding from research grants, training grants, contracts, and philanthropy.
“The faculty, staff, trainees, and community partners of the Mailman Center make our success with this grant, and the impact it has, possible,” Dr. Armstrong said. “Each one is deeply committed to assuring that the Mailman Center vision of ‘improving lives through innovation, impact, and connection’ is realized in everything we do.”
Dr. Armstrong has been director of the Mailman Center since 1999. With a background in pediatric psychology, he has an international reputation for his research on neurodevelopment in children with chronic illness, most notably sickle cell disease, childhood cancer, and HIV. He is also professor and executive vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics and interim director of the division of pediatric pulmonary medicine.
The ACL is a federal agency that assists older adults, people with disabilities, their families, and caregivers. It funds services and support organizations provided primarily by states and networks of community-based programs, and invests in training, education, research, and innovation. It also manages programs providing health and wellness assistance, protecting rights and preventing abuse, supporting consumers, and strengthening networks of community-based organizations.