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Bridging the Word Gap Research Network

  • Program Name:MCH Research Network Programs
  • Activity Code:UA6
  • Application Available:3/9/2016
  • Application Deadline:5/9/2016
  • Created By:Park, Hae Young
  • Created On:6/3/2015
  • Last Updated by:Haley, Bria
  • Last Updated On:3/9/2016
  • Estimated Project Start Date:9/1/2016

 Details of the changes posted in this announcement

Not Available

 Announcement Information

Announcement Number HRSA-16-040
Announcement Code
CFDA Number 93.110
Provisional No
Activity Code UA6
Competitive Yes
Fiscal Year 2016


This announcement solicits applications for the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network Program. This cooperative agreement opportunity will establish and maintain a national interdisciplinary research network designed to reduce the vocabulary gap between children from low-SES families as compared to children from higher-SES families.  The research network will foster scientific collaboration, with a focus on research designed to develop and test interventions to improve early language exposure, vocabulary acquisition, and language development for children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, including Dual Language Learners (DLLs).  The Network should include researchers across a range of disciplines reflecting attention to the health and development of the child and family. The awardee will complete the following major activities: Infrastructure Development: Develop and maintain a national interdisciplinary network (hereafter referred to as “the Network”) of researchers and stakeholder partners (e.g., early intervention specialists, health care professionals, child care providers) who collaborate in research designed to reduce the gap in language exposure and consequent language skills that accrue to children from low-SES families as compared to children from higher-SES families, thus affecting their reading skills at kindergarten entry, and their later school success; Internal Communications: Develop a schedule of ongoing internal communication among Network members, and with the HRSA/MCHB Project Officer. Network Activities: Develop and/or update a national research agenda for scientific studies designed to identify existing research gaps, build upon advances in research and practice in the field of early language development, including dual and second language development, and enable the Network to pursue priority research questions; Implement Network activities and research to reduce the language exposure and vocabulary gap between lower and higher-SES children, including lower-SES children who are DLLs;  Design and implement one research study that develops and tests at least one intervention to improve early language exposure, vocabulary acquisition, and/or language development for children from lower SES backgrounds, with a focus on improving “parent/caregiver talk” and promoting child language development within the family context, including fathers;   Secure external funding for one multi-level pilot intervention study; Create a practice-based research collaborative to identify cutting edge research projects and leverage network capacity to compete for grant opportunities; and Advance the nation’s capacity to conduct research on vocabulary acquisition and school achievement for young children by: building relevant data infrastructure; improving analytic methods; and fostering research and mentorship opportunities for new investigators through active communication, networking, collaboration and use of innovative mentorship/research experiences. Dissemination: Maintain a Network website to disseminate research findings, activities and products and to engage with the field on Network research and other activities; Develop and implement a plan to disseminate Network findings through at least two peer-reviewed publications per year, webinars, annual Network meetings, conference presentations, and other related dissemination activities.  These activities should serve to facilitate the transfer of Network findings to a broader audience including researchers, health professionals and providers, policy makers, educators, families, and programs serving children from lower SES backgrounds; and Translate research findings into practice, as applicable per study findings. Activities related to the Network’s research agenda should show awareness of previous work of this Network, and draw from four key themes: (1) General research questions, (2) how interventions can be adapted for non-parental caregivers, (3) the best and most cost-effective modes of delivery, and (4) contextual factors that may affect an intervention’s impact. These are areas in which knowledge is lacking, and which the Network is encouraged to address. Research Questions What are the components of interventions effective in increasing the quality and quantity of caregiver language? What are the features or characteristics of interventions that show the most sustained changes in behavior after the program ends? How can the unique role of fathers in language development be addressed? How will the intervention be evaluated for its long term impact? How should the intervention be tailored for children who are DLLs? Interventions for Non-parental Caregivers Are parent-designed language interventions translatable for the early care and education workforce in the form of professional development opportunities (e.g., trainings, coaching/mentoring, etc.), particularly for teachers of infants and toddlers? Does information dissemination on its own catalyze any behavior change in teachers, or is more intensive coaching required to see results in reducing the language gap? Mode of Delivery What are the cost/benefit differences between basic information sharing; short-term workshops; short-term coaching interventions; and long-term coaching interventions? What training dosage is necessary to provide optimal motivation for teacher or parent behavior change in talking to infants/toddlers/children? What are the reliability, validity, and fidelity of implementation for online administration of language-focused interventions? Do public awareness efforts/messaging interventions layered on top of existing programs/infrastructure prove effective for improving language development among parents? Do short-term intensive interventions layered on top of existing programs/infrastructure prove effective for improving language development? How can a high-quality preschool environment serve as another mechanism for facilitating early language development, especially for children who are DLLss? How can effective interventions be scaled up at low cost, allowing for universal implementation for low SES families? Contextual Factors How do contextual factors (i.e., stress, poverty, depression) affect a caregiver’s ability to benefit from a language intervention, and how can interventions maximize their impact on adults living in these circumstances? How can interventions address these contextual factors, specifically addressing toxic stress exposure among parents, developing parental executive functioning skills, and facilitating behavior change among parents? How does the culture and native language of families/teachers/children affect intervention fidelity and effectiveness of language-intensive interventions? Are interventions devised for native English speaking teachers/parents/children translatable to non-native English speaking groups? Are there effective interventions devised to help native English-speaking teachers promote the language development of DLLs who are less proficient in English? Are there cultural barriers or resistance to “talk to your kids” messages and interventions, particularly for Latino, Native American, and African American families? If so, how can these be addressed? Regarding planning for the Network’s two research studies, the following aspects should be addressed: These two studies must be developed within one year of award and include details on plans for either implementation or submission to external funder during the project period; for competing continuation applicant, a brief synopsis of the protocol developed during the prior project period along with details on the plan to implement the protocol must be included; The two required interventions may address population-level efforts, community-level interventions, and/or intensive family and individual-level interventions; Intensive family-level interventions should focus on contextual factors for families living in poverty, such as toxic stress exposure, and should further research on interventions that address these challenges.  This intervention should also consider existing research gaps on special populations such as low-SES fathers and children who are Dual Language Learners; and The population-level efforts should explore using health care settings as a mechanism of providing interventions and information. Consistent with HRSA’s mission to improve access to quality services to underserved populations, the MCHB’s intent is to ensure that research activities are responsive to the cultural and linguistic needs of special populations, that services are family-centered and accessible to consumers, and that the broadest possible representation of culturally distinct and historically underrepresented groups is supported through programs and projects sponsored by the MCHB.

 Application Information

Application Available 03/09/2016
Application Deadline 05/09/2016
Supplemental Application Deadline N/A
Explanation for Deadline N/A
Archive Date 07/08/2016
Letter of Intent Not required
Application Package SF424 R&R
Allow Applications to be Reopened in EHBs No
FOA Available Yes
Competitive Application Types Supported New; Continuation & Supplement
Allow Electronic Submission N/A
Page Limit for Application
Allow Multiple Applications
from an Organization from
Electronic Submission Instruction Electronic submission is/will be available in Grants.Gov

 General Information

Projected Award Date N/A
Estimated Project Period N/A
Estimated Project Start Date 09/01/2016
Estimated Project End Date 08/31/2021
Estimated Amount of this Competition $300,000.00
Estimated Number of Awards 1
Estimated Average Size of Awards $300,000.00
Cost Sharing No
Cooperative Agreement Yes

 Contact Information

Name Robin Harwood, Ph.D.
Phone Number (301) 443-3888

 Download Information

Expand FOA (Guidance) Attachment (Maximum 1)
Document Name Size Date Attached Description
HRSA-16-040 Final.pdf 224 kB 03/09/2016
Expand Application Package (Maximum 1)
No documents attached
Expand User Guide (Maximum 1)
No documents attached

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