Center for the Care and Study of Vulnerable Populations at Governors State University
The Center for the Care and Study of Vulnerable Populations (the Center) was established in 2004 within the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) at Governors State University (GSU). Its purposes are 1) to conduct research and implement interventions that promote the empowerment of vulnerable groups, particularly in the south suburban region of metropolitan Chicago, so that they may secure the same standard of health and socioeconomic well-being as the highest levels of society, and 2) to support the research and implementation projects of GSU faculty and staff.
The Center has played important roles in a number of community based and participatory research projects that address health disparities and the needs of vulnerable populations. Two ongoing, major initiatives include 1) a five year, 5 million dollar grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) titled “Building Capacity for Health Disparity Research” and 2) a three year, 4.9 million dollar grant from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration titled “Healthcare Jobs for the Chicago Southland.”
The purpose of the first grant is to eliminate health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities by expanding the existing research infrastructure, fostering faculty development, and encouraging students to pursue graduate studies in health-related fields. Specific research topics include how African American women in disadvantaged communities learn about AIDs and awareness of asthma in pregnancy. The Center works with the faculty associated with this grant to implement and complete their research projects. Under the auspices of this grant, the Center helped organize a conference on October 22, 2010 at GSU titled, “Eliminating Health Inequities: From Research to Practice”; over 150 individuals from GSU and the surrounding community attended. You can read more about this particular grant at http://www.govst.edu/hdr/
Utilizing a network of community organizations, the purpose of the second grant is to provide training and placement services to unemployed, dislocated, and low-wage incumbent workers, enabling them to pursue healthcare careers. The Center helped secure the funding for this grant and currently organizes, manages and supports grant-related activities. You can read more about this particular project at http://www.govst.edu/DOLgrant .
Previous Center Activities Include:
- A Centers of Excellence Grant from NIH was awarded to CHHS in 2003 to build the capacity and infrastructure necessary to sustain a program of interdisciplinary health disparities research and translate the findings into community intervention strategies. Called Project Export, specific research funded by this grant included a study of childhood obesity and an examination of disparities in hospice care. The Center served to foster and support the research activities funded by this grant.
- From 2004-2008, a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration was obtained to implement community-based prevention programming designed to improve substance abuse and HIV prevention skills among local high-risk, economically disadvantaged, and minority middle school students and their families. The Center worked with the community to design acceptable programming, implement this programming, and train community members to improve the chances that this project be sustained.
- A program titled One Church One Addict was funded by the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse for over a decade until the state’s budget crisis resulted in the elimination of funds in June of 2010. GSU and the Center provided capacity building and sustainability workshops as well as training and technical assistance to selected faith-based organizations serving substance users and abusers in northern Illinois.
- The Center has partnered with various outside organizations on grant applications and community based projects including: 1) various south suburban school districts, 2) the Chicago Mental Health Council and Foundation, 3) Kankakee and Prairie State Community Colleges, 4) the Jones Community Center in Chicago Heights, 5) Educational Talent Search, 6) Aunt Martha’s Youth Services, 7) AIDS Foundation of Chicago, 8) Chicago State University, and 9) Southland Health Alliance.
At present, the Center is staffed by six professionals with expertise in research design and evaluation, survey design, project management, community outreach, and database design. The Center’s staff includes:
- Robert K. Bliese, MHA
- Carolyn Estes-Rodgers, MPH, MHS, CHES
- Penny L. Havlicek, PhD
Director of Administration and Operations
- Shari Lewis
Assistant Project Director and Case Manager
- Andrew J. Steil, BA
Facilities and Equipment
The Center is housed at Hantack House, a 3,500 square foot facility located on the west side of campus. Funded in part by Grant Number P20MD001816 from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the facility was renovated in 2007 to provide a quiet, supportive, and productive environment for the conduct of behavioral and social research. This building includes ten private offices, a spacious work area for graduate assistants, a research library, and a comfortable, well equipped conference room. All personal computers have Microsoft Office Suite, Internet access, and either SAS or SPSS installed. Two high end computers contain specialized software for quantitative and qualitative data analysis including SAS Analytics, SPSS Power, Hierarchical Linear Modeling, and NVivo8.
- Sixteen personal computers equipped with Microsoft Office Suite, Internet access, and either SAS or SPSS.
- Two high-end computers available to all college faculty containing the following software for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of data: SAS Analytics, SPSS Power, Hierarchical Linear Modeling, and NVivo8.
- A state-of-the-art conference room with Internet access, teleconferencing and videoconferencing capability, a plasma screen/projector, and video recorder/player.
- A research library containing more than 50 titles pertaining to qualitative research, evaluation, statistics, research methods, and sampling.
- Private office space for use by faculty researchers.
- Open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.