The P4A Research Hub at Vanderbilt is bringing together a rich and novel set of health and education data to understand the challenges faced by some of the most vulnerable children in Tennessee communities today—those living in low-resource households who face particularly high risks to their healthy development. Among these Tennessee children, we are focusing on those who have been exposed to opioids in utero, children with adverse childhood experiences, and children born to an immigrant parent. Over 22% of all Tennessee children and 36% of children with immigrant parents live in poverty, and the rate of children born between 2001 and 2014 with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) increased ten-fold. Tennessee is one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, particularly among its children, yet little is known about the long-term health, developmental, and educational outcomes of opioid-exposed children.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
The P4A Research Hub at Vanderbilt is currently examining how to measure ACEs using administrative data, which have typically been measured through controlled studies and/or self-reported survey data. We are also gathering information on how other health, education and social service organizations are measuring ACEs in the field, such as in intake forms used in health and school-based clinics. We expect these efforts will ultimately support states in monitoring ACEs in a new way and creating policies that more effectively address the needs of these children (in the absence of access to certain data files).
Children of Immigrants
The research team is examining the measurement of children of immigrants through multiple databases. Identifying which children are likely to require additional health and education services through combined indicators of “English-learner status, primary language spoken at home, country of birth for parents,” among others, is enabling us to undertake analyses that will inform the efforts of Tennessee schools to assist children and their families in removing barriers to their healthy development and educational success.
The P4A Research Hub at Vanderbilt has compared measurements of neonatal abstinence syndrome rates in Tennessee using various state agency definitions, in addition to our more comprehensive definition that includes exposure to opioids even if the child did not develop neonatal abstinence syndrome. Our novel approach will allow our team to capture outcomes for children who were ever exposed to an opioid in utero, which has important implications for policy responses to meet the health and education needs of children at risk for negative outcomes due to opioid exposure.