Early Childhood Learning and Health: Elaine Thomas, MSN, RN, CNE, serves as Co-Investigator for Project SHIELD
Bridging the field of early childhood literacy with child health and development, faculty member Elaine Thomas, MSN, RN, CNE, Senior Lecturer, is serving as co-investigator on a recently funded grant award to the Kent State University School of Information in partnership with the College of Nursing. Funded by a National Leadership Planning Grant for Libraries by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Project SHIELD (Supporting Healthy Infant Early Learning and Development) will investigate optimal ways to support families with children, ages 0-24 months, with early brain development, learning, and health, particularly for underserved communities. Katie Campana, PhD, Assistant Professor in the School of Information, serves as principal investigator along with co-investigators Michelle Baldini, MLS, School of Information, and Elaine Thomas, who brings expertise in pediatric nursing to the research team. “I love pediatric nursing,” she notes, explaining, “Supporting the optimal growth and development of all children is very important to me. I feel this grant will allow us to explore ideas and promote the collaboration of public libraries with health practitioners to enhance health and early learning for infants and toddlers in underserved communities.”
Project SHIELD will bring public library and community health practitioners together for co-design sessions, allowing them to brainstorm and plan ways to support families by promoting both early childhood learning and health. Using interviews, surveys, focus groups, and participatory design workshops, the research team will explore how libraries currently support very young children and their families and how partnership with healthcare providers may strengthen and expand these efforts. The research team anticipates that this initial planning stage will yield valuable ideas as to how public library and community health practitioners may work collaboratively to support families with very young children in underserved communities, improving both early childhood literacy and health outcomes for this vulnerable population.
Elaine Thomas received her Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from Kent State University, Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Akron with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Health, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from The Ohio State University. In addition to positions at the College of Nursing as a lecturer and clinical faculty member for the past two decades, she has served as the Health Care of Children Course Coordinator since 2010. Her affiliations include the National League for Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau, Delta Xi chapter. She currently serves on the College’s Coordinating Council-Baccalaureate Committee and is a former member of the College Advisory, Faculty Service and Welfare, and Teaching Committees. Thomas has presented for the annual research conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society and the Society of Pediatric Nurses Fall Conference, as well as for various northeastern Ohio medical institutions such as Robinson Memorial Hospital and the Summit County Health Department. Her dedication to nursing education was recognized by her receipt of the Outstanding Faculty Award by the Students for Professional Nursing (SPN) at Kent State University and her induction into the Delta Omega Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau.