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Equitable Community Research Partnerships Power Long-lasting Change

VideoEarly ChildhoodSep 14 2023

Research to identify how families from historically marginalized backgrounds can better access services should partner with members of those communities to increase the relevancy of findings and create sustainable change. In our work to advance early childhood equity in New Hampshire, Child Trends partnered with community co-researchers to begin an Early Childhood Equity Movement. The videos below feature these co-researchers discussing how equity and shared decision-making impacted families’ lives, thereby helping families and communities recognize their own power to overcome challenges related to trust and language barriers.

Our co-researchers represent seven racial/ethnic or linguistic communities in New Hampshire: African American, Arabic, Native American, Nepalese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili. They were core to the decision-making process at every stage of the project, including planning, recruitment, data collection and analysis, and dissemination of findings. Most importantly, they provided critical insight about how to approach their communities to uplift their most pressing needs—insight that informed our every action as researchers.

About the Early Childhood Equity Movement

The Early Childhood Equity Movement (ECEM)—a collaboration between Child Trends, the Endowment for Health, and various community members and leaders across New Hampshire—reimagines what it means to support diverse communities of children and families within three cities in New Hampshire and with Native American tribes across the whole state. The ECEM talks directly with families from diverse racial/ethnic or linguistic backgrounds to learn which factors would most improve their access to critical services, including early care and education, health care, and other family services (e.g., housing, SNAP/EBT).


Changing how researchers typically partner with communities
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Principal Investigator Manica F. Ramos describes these community partnerships as the seeds of a movement toward broader, sustained change in how researchers collect information on and for communities and families. The ECEM aims to uncover the root causes of—and solutions to—continued racial/ethnic or linguistic gaps in outcomes within New Hampshire’s communities.


Helping families recognize their power to change their communities
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Community co-researchers were motivated by a desire to help families recognize their power to advocate for change in their communities. They were driven by personal and professional motivations to help members of their community more effectively navigate child care, health care, and other critical—but often inaccessible—services.


Listening to families and communities to learn what they need
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The community co-researchers shared their favorite part of the work: The simple act of listening to families and communities to learn what they most need. Listening allowed co-researchers to better connect with communities, make recommendations to tailor services based on community members’ responses, and recognize common challenges among the many New Hampshire communities.


Building trust and overcoming language barriers
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Community co-researchers spoke about their communities’ greatest needs. These included the need to repair broken trust between communities and the governments and research organizations with which they may need to work, and the need to overcome language barriers that prevent some community members from accessing needed services.


Observing unity among diverse families and communities
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The community co-researchers reflected on which strengths among New Hampshire’s diverse families brought them the most joy. Their answers speak to an almost universal strength: that these families feel a sense of unity among themselves and within their broader communities of friends and colleagues.


One community co-researcher reflected on her participation in an audio-only format. She valued her co-research experience in part because she identified with many of the lived experiences shared by New Hampshire’s refugees and immigrants.



Research experts: Manica F. Ramos, Kristine Andrews, Yosmary Rodriguez, Joselyn-Angeles Figueroa

Community co-researchers: Martha Alvarado, Chief Paul Bunnell, Wanda Castillo, Amina Chiboub, Keya Doyle, Sherry Gould, Hamisi Juma, Joslyn Kuchinski, Logan Levesque, Sandra Pratt, Padmashree Rimal, Sandra White

Video direction: Catherine Nichols

Production (videography, editing, graphics): Eleven-11

Logistics coordinator: Yosmary Rodriguez

Funder acknowledgement

This work was generously supported by the Endowment for Health of New Hampshire. We are grateful for their support, and especially for their partnership in each phase of this work. We also acknowledge the Irving Harris Foundation for their funding which generously supported the production of these videos.

Special thanks

We would like to thank the co-researchers who co-designed and co-implemented this research study, as well as co-analyzed and confirmed the research findings—this work would not be possible without their expertise and partnerships. Specifically, we would like to acknowledge Martha Alvarado, Chief Paul Bunnell, Wanda Castillo, Amina Chiboub, Keya Doyle, Sherry Gould, Hamisi Juma, Joslyn Kuchinski, Logan Levesque, Sandra Pratt, Padmashree “Dee” Rimal, and Sandra White. We would also like to thank the Early Childhood Equity Movement advisory board for their dedication, contributions, ideas, and support of equity in New Hampshire family services, including the co-researchers listed above, Bobbie Bagley, Eva Castillo, Lynn Clowes, Jackie Cowell, Bruno D’Britto, Karen Emis-Williams, Rute Ferreira, Pastor Junior, Meredith O’Shea, Wendy Perron, Vera Sheehan, and Patricia Tilley.

Suggested citation

Ramos, M.F., Rodriguez, Y., Angeles-Figueroa, J., & Andrews, K. (2023). Equitable community research partnerships power long-lasting change [brief and videos]. Child Trends. https://doi.org/10.56417/5684k5188q