LACC Affiliated Faculty Awarded 2021 Research Opportunity Seed Fund

Professors Baralt, André and Leger’s project aims to deliver parent guidance on the importance of early literacy and of speaking Haitian Creole at a critical touchpoint: newborn well child pediatric visits. This work came out of research done by Profs. Baralt and André last year, where they found that most children’s books written in Haitian Creole were simply translations from English, and were not culturally relevant or representational. They found that Haitian parents do want books written in Haitian Creole for their children, and reported needing support on promoting their child’s bilingual language and literacy skills in both Haitian Creole and English. This initiative must be accompanied by training for clinicians so that they support Haitian parents and do not give erroneous advice (most parents reported being told to switch to English only with their children). Since these findings, Profs. Baralt, André and Leger have partnered with Reach Out and Read National and will achieve their grant aims via community-engaged research methods. They will work with Haitian parents, local community experts, and pediatricians to iteratively co-design one culturally-informed infant board book as well as one video that provides Haitian parents with guidance about the importance of early literacy and that supports reading in Haitian Creole. This will accompany a training for clinical providers, to include speech language pathologists and teachers. They will then conduct a pilot study testing culturally relevant language and literacy support materials for Haitian parents and children. The book and video will be included as part of the Reach Out and Read (ROR) program at critical well child check-ups after birth in all 67 ROR-affiliated pediatric clinics in Miami-Dade County.

This project will be supported by an FIU Expert Advisory Committee:
• Dr. Chanadra Young Whiting, Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences
• Dr. Keisha McIntyre-McCullough, College of Arts, Sciences & Education
• Dr. Shayl Griffith, College of Arts, Sciences & Education
• Dr. Michellle Jean-Gilles, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work

Altogether, this interdisciplinary team has backgrounds in child bilingual acquisition, Haitian Creole curriculum, Black feminism and digital humanities, film making, pregnancy, education, psychology, parenting in Caribbean families, and acculturation processes in Haitian American families:


External faculty and community leaders contributing expertise to the project are:
• Lisa Blair, CEO, Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership
• Santra Denis, Executive Director, Miami Workers Center and Avanse Ansanm
• John Hutton, MD, Pediatrician, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
• Nikki Shearman, Ph.D., Chief of Strategic Initiatives, Reach Out and Read

Congratulations to Profs. Baralt, André and Leger! Their work is part of LACC’s Haitian Studies Program of Excellence and LACC’s continued effort to promote faculty research.