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Maternal Child Health Projects

Current projects

Doula training and community-based birth worker-led advocacy initiatives in Arizona

This study is guided by two aims: 1) to assess how doula training programs currently recognized by the Arizona Department of Health Services incorporate the core competencies delineated by SB 1181 and address issues of birth equity, 2) To better understand the advocacy and policy priorities of community-based birth workers of color and assess the acceptance level of the voluntary state certification for doulas process and of AHCCCS reimbursement for doulas as a policy goal in Arizona

Increasing MCH workforce capacity in Arizona

Working in collaboration with 4th Trimester AZ on three projects: (1) Diversifying perinatal mental health workforce; (2) Increasing state Medicaid (AHCCCS) coverage to outpatient lactation support; (3)  AHCCCS recognition of perinatal mental health providers as independent practitioners.

Impact of The Health Care System on The Maternal Health-Seeking Behaviors and Health Experiences of Refugee Women in Phoenix Arizona

This study will examine the maternal health-seeking behaviors, maternal health experiences, and unique care needs of African refugee women. Participants will be assigned to three study groups; women who received maternal care through Valleywise Health-Refugee Women’s Health Clinic (VH-RWHC), women who received maternal care through Dignity Health, and women who received care through other general health clinics in Phoenix, Arizona. For Aim 1, the research team will conduct semi-structured interviews to examine the maternal health-seeking behaviors of African refugee women who have received maternal care under the three study groups. For Aim 2, the research team will examine maternal health experiences of racism, discrimination, healthcare access, use of health services, and perceptions of maternal healthcare for African refugee women who have received maternal care under the three study groups. For Aim 3, the research team will conduct a qualitative content analysis of the interviews to compare the results for the refugee women invited to participate in the three study groups. This comparison will elucidate patterns of maternity care that will give a deeper contextual understanding of the factors informing positive maternal care experiences to advance MCH equity for refugee women.

Youth Listening Sessions, Az Alliance for Adolescent Health 

To better understand health and wellness priorities from a youth perspective through youth listening sessions to inform next steps to building out a health and social service safety net for adolescents in Arizona.


 To better understand health and wellness priorities from a youth perspective through youth listening sessions to inform next steps to building out a health and social service safety net for adolescents in Arizona.

Snuggle Bug

An observational study examining how two understudied factors, sleep-wake patterns and the gut microbiome, affect rapid weight gain in infancy, an early risk factor for obesity. The development of sleep-wake patterns and gut microbiome communities will be evaluated, in the context of diverse feeding, maternal, and environmental influences, on infant weight gain. This is in collaboration with Valleywise Health.

Opioid use among pregnant women

Working in collaboration with Hushabye Nursery on (1) Opioid use and nutritional social determinants of health, (2) speech-language development and oral motor feeding development over time with infants and young children with neonatal substance abuse syndrome; and (3) how opioid use disorder is operationalized in other cultures.

Family Check-Up 4 Health

A health promotion program with families that have children ages 2-5 years. Childhood obesity prevention through tailored parenting education, motivational interviewing, and connection to resources.

Children with an incarcerated parent – CIP Caregivers Project

This study aims to create an adapted intervention of the New Beginnings and Resilient Parenting for Bereaved Families that is designed specifically for caregivers of children with incarcerated parents.

Care Coordination

Provides care coordination for children with complex health care needs.

Babble Boot Camp

A clinical trial of a proactive speech and language intervention that is provided to infants as young as 2 months old. The purpose is to find out if severe speech and language disorders can be prevented in children who are born with a known risk for these disorders, in this case children with a newborn diagnosis of classic galactosemia.

Analytics on COVID-19 for MCH populations

Working in collaboration with Valleywise Health to study COVID-19 impact on pregnant women, including identification of high-risk groups, characterizing delivery outcomes, surveying health status of refugee populations, and understanding effects of the pandemic on health workers.

Fourth Trimester Truth Booth

A qualitative study aiming to understand the attitudes and stories of low-income Arizona mothers’ experiences with feeding practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Past projects

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Project

Identified key differences in providers who participate vs. do not participate in CACFP

Food sources in LatinX communities

Explored and documented the type, number, and distribution of non-conventional food venues and the types of foods found in those venues in South Phoenix using direct observation and geographic information system methods.

College student gut microbiome and health behaviors

Explored the gut microbiome composition in college freshmen in relation to dietary intake, physical activity, social interactions, perceived stress, and weight changes across an academic year.

Racial Ethnic Disparities

Explored trends in racial/ethnic disparities in physical activity and student grads and whether diet moderated the relationship.

Student involvement

The Training Core aims to prepare undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral trainees for the workforce through the development and implementation of workforce training initiatives. Asynchronous online modules monitored and evaluated by the Training Core, support skill development in areas of translational science/inquiry, ethics, community health and wellness, professional communication, and policy/advocacy. The Training Core facilitates experiential learning projects, enhances diversity amongst MCH Trainees, and pursues training grants to support student research engagement. Interprofessional collaboration is encouraged by working closely with the other MCHTRT cores and community partners to assist in developing leadership skills in the areas of clinical expertise and research. 

Community partners

Our vision is to build a community of practice for MCH in Arizona and accelerate research and evaluation, training, and practice for marginalized and underserved MCH populations. We couldn't do this without our dedicated community partners! Join our team by emailing