Extension Staff Awarded UW-Madison Baldwin Grants to Address Family Engagement

Two UW-Madison Division of Extension staff have been awarded Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment grants for 2020, funding two projects to bring University research to public action. Both grants focus on family engagement and giving parents evidence-based tools to increase connectedness and mental health.

  • Brook Berg, Extension’s Family Engagement & Relationships Outreach Program Manager, along with School of Human Ecology Professor Robert Nix were awarded a grant for their proposal, Disseminating the Positive Parenting Program Across Rural Wisconsin.
  • Human Development & Relationships Professor and Educator Mary Campbell Wood was awarded a grant for her proposal, Moving Forward: Jail Reentry Program for Inmates and their Families in Pepin and Buffalo Counties.

The Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment Grants celebrate the Wisconsin Idea and public engagement of University research. The approved grants show the close ties between Extension and UW-Madison. Extension embodies the Wisconsin Idea in its mission to bring University knowledge to all parts of Wisconsin. Extension educators are in every county across the state as well as five Tribal Nations, delivering programming around agriculture and natural resources issues along with youth, family, well-being, and community development initiatives.

Positive Parenting in rural Wisconsin communities

Berg and Nix’s successful grant project will bring training and certification in Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) solutions to families in 16 rural counties across Wisconsin. Berg is the Program Manager for Family Engagement & Relationships in Extension’s Human Development & Relationships Institute. Nix is a School of Human Ecology Professor focused on diverse and underserved children, families, and communities.

The project leverages Extension’s presence and relationships within counties to enhance family engagement. Family programming will be rolled out via partners to spread the knowledge of Triple P as well as direct and group education for parents across a wide range of issues and social situations. Extension staff will form “Tripe P Advisory Boards” within communities to inform programming and identify participants. The programming has proven results, including community savings on special education, mental health treatment, healthcare, and child protective services spending.

“The Baldwin funding will provide communities across the state access to one of the strongest evidence-based parenting programs in the world. As program manager, I am excited to help support and build a community of practice for Extension educators and their community partners. Addressing child behavioral and emotional problems by giving parents proven tools and skills, we can strengthen family systems and communities alike,” Berg said.

Comprehensive jail re-entry in Pepin and Buffalo Counties

Campbell Wood, a UW-Madison Professor of Family Development in Buffalo and Pepin counties, formed and led a local re-entry pilot project for incarcerated and justice-involved residents focusing on positive family engagement, recovery from addiction and substance abuse, and building community networks.

The Baldwin Grant will provide funding for a Certified Reentry/Recovery Peer Specialist position. This is critical as most individuals in the justice system struggle with addiction, alcohol, or substance abuse and mental health challenges. It will also help to make the pilot an integral component of the local jails and justice system. The goals of the project are to improve community safety by reducing and preventing substance abuse and criminal behaviors, tending to harmful effects of justice-system involvement and incarceration on children and families, and improving resilience and self-sufficiency. This funding will complement existing education and outreach efforts, such as Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development workforce readiness and parenting and family relationship programs such as The Literacy Link (https://theliteracylink.extension.wisc.edu/).

“Research shows that positive family engagement is one of the most important and often-overlooked factors that address adult criminogenic needs. Children of justice-involved parents are too small to fail. If we want to truly make change, we must address how children and families are impacted by justice-system involvement and incarceration. This program addresses needs of both adults and children by building protective factors and resilience for families, thus changing cycles of adversity. I am hoping that this pilot will become a model for implementation statewide,” Campbell Wood said.

More information about UW-Madison Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment can be found at https://provost.wisc.edu/baldwin-wisconsin-idea-endowment/

More information about UW-Madison Division of Extension can be found at https://extension.wisc.edu/

More information about UW-Madison School of Human Ecology can be found at https://sohe.wisc.edu/


Matthew Call



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