When searching for a site for my practicum, I was eager to find a community-oriented institution where I could apply my data analysis skills to promote health equity and address issues related to social determinants of health. My time at the Institute for Community Health (ICH) has provided me with many opportunities to engage with community members and delve deeper into quantitative and qualitative methods for program evaluation while working on a project dedicated to increasing access and improving early childhood education and care in Cambridge, MA.
The Birth to 3rd Grade (B-3) Partnership is a Cambridge-based program dedicated to shaping a community where young children can thrive. B-3’s mission is to create an easily accessible, aligned, and coherent system of affordable high quality education and care that begins with prenatal care and extends through third grade. One of the main goals of the program is to increase access to early childhood education and care services.
As one component of my practicum, I learned to use QGIS, a geographic information system application, to create a map of all the early childhood centers in Cambridge, denoting the nine centers that have partnered with the B-3 program:
This map highlights geographic gaps in access to early childhood education and care and will be used by the B-3 team to inform them of disparities that may need to be addressed in Cambridge.
Beyond learning to use QGIS, in my time at ICH I have also been able to apply the statistical skills I have learned in the classroom to evaluate quality components of early childhood care centers. My team at ICH has also taught me a number of new approaches for evaluating public health programs and making recommendations to improve community health. Everyone at ICH has been incredibly welcoming and supportive and I am grateful for the opportunity to complete my practicum by contributing to the amazing work being done here.