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Children's HealthWatch

About Us

Children's HealthWatch works to improve child health by bringing evidence and analysis from the front lines of pediatric care to policy makers and the public. Our research is grounded in the experience of pediatrician researchers who see first-hand in clinics how economic conditions and public policies are reflected in the health and well-being of their youngest patients.

Our network of pediatricians and public health researchers collects data on children up to the age of four in emergency rooms and clinics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore; Boston Medical Center; the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock; Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis; and St. Christopher's Hospital in Philadelphia.

Tools & Measures

Primary adult caregivers accompanying children under four years old are invited to participate in the Children’s HealthWatch survey and are provided with resource and referral assistance if they identify unmet needs as part of the interview. At present, we have records on over 38,000 children and their families, with 4500 new records added each year. This sentinel sampling allows us to identify early warnings of harm to a wider population of children.

Children's HealthWatch is examining the impact of social safety net policies on the health, development, and well-being of young children through timely and simultaneous multi-site monitoring. It is our hope that the information collected by Children's HealthWatch will help policy-makers make informed decisions about social safety netpolicies that affect low-income children.

The study design is a cross-sectional survey and surveillance study. Caregivers with children under four years of age who visit the Pediatric Emergency Department or Primary Care Clinic are interviewed by trained data collectors.  Children are weighed and measured at the time of visit. 

Children who are identified with significant growth delays are assessed to see whether they are receiving medical follow-up. If not, these children are referred to their primary care provider or the Growth and Nutrition Clinic for follow-up.

Families experiencing hunger or basic needs problems, are referred to food assistance, social, advocacy or outreach services on-site or in their neighborhood.

The Children's HealthWatch interview consists of several reliable and valid subscales that examine children's development, family food security, access to public assistance programs, caregiver mental health, and other demographic information.  

Outreach Services

Many families experience challenging situations due to hardships associated with poverty- not enough food, unstable housing conditions, and inadequate home heating or cooling to name a few.  Through the Children's HealthWatch research survey instrument, many families are identified needing basic services such as adequate housing, food, and childcare.

Each Children's HealthWatch medical center has devised an outreach program to provide information and link families to important services in the community. Outreach efforts include acting as a family advocate.

Project Coordinator

Usha Murugesan
Project Coordinator 

University of Maryland, School of Medicine



The Team

Maureen  Black Ph.D.
Principal Investigator 

University of Maryland, School of Medicine

Research Assistants

Hassiatou Outtara
Andrew Lee
Alexis Jung
Abed Pablo
Kerry Watson

Volunteer Opportunities

Interested in becoming a research assistant or volunteer with CHW? Please email Usha Murugesan at


Yimgang, D. P., Wang, Y., Paik, G., Hager, E. R., & Black, M. M. (2017). Civil Unrest in the Context of Chronic Community Violence: Impact on Maternal Depressive SymptomsAmerican Journal of Public Health107(9), 1455–1462.