The Time Is Now.

Recent events across Maryland and our nation underscore the importance of the work that this center will undertake, and the need to begin this work immediately. There is no other organization in the nation more experienced in treating children facing such life-threatening conditions. We are proud to be based here in Maryland, and ready to make Maryland the leader in solving this nationwide challenge.

Kennedy Krieger has developed plans for a new center to understand the neuroscience of social injustice—the ways that social injustice affects the developing brain and nervous system, and ultimately, a child’s overall health. The center will also develop solutions to address the effects that social injustice has on children.

Kennedy Krieger respectfully asks you to support the state of Maryland’s approval of capital and operating funds to outfit—i.e., create renovated space within existing buildings and hire additional staff members—and operate its new Center for the Neuroscience of Social Injustice.

It is imperative that the center’s work begin as soon as possible. Maryland’s children are suffering from the effects of social injustice right now. Daily, we work with children from across the state—from rural to urban communities—who are falling behind in school, going to bed hungry, facing violence and drug abuse, and coming to terms with what their ethnicity or the color of their skin means to others who don’t look like them, and they are suffering.

Little Girl Orange Shirt

Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Budget Request

To be used to establish and launch the operations of the Center for the Neuroscience of Social Injustice at Kennedy Krieger Institute


CAPITAL BUDGET REQUEST:
$5 MILLION OVER 3 YEARS

FY2022: $1.5 MILLION
FY2023: $1.75 MILLION
FY2024: $1.75 MILLION

Kennedy Krieger to Contribute: 10M



OPERATING BUDGET REQUEST:
$4.5 MILLION OVER 3 YEARS

FY2022: $1.5 MILLION
FY2023: $1.5 MILLION
FY2024: $1.5 MILLION

Kennedy Krieger to Contribute: 10M


 

Existing research building circa 1960

The center must recruit and support innovative researchers to investigate the social, economic and environmental risk factors that can harm a child’s developing brain and body. This requires a substantial investment in both renovated physical space and staff recruitment. That’s why we need the state’s help.

  • Our existing research building dates to the 1960s.
  • The research space is not equipped to conduct enhanced pediatric developmental neuroscience research.
  • We request funding to modernize the space so we can successfully recruit expert neuroscientists and discover treatments for childhood trauma caused by social injustice.
  • Kennedy Krieger will contribute $10M to the total renovation cost of $15M and $10M to the operating cost of $14.5M.


The Goal: Mitigating the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can harm a child’s developing brain and nervous system, leading to lifelong mental disorders and disabilities. These experiences are often the result of social injustice, and include:

  • Families not having enough money to pay for basic living expenses (food, housing, clothing, etc.)
  • The death of a parent or guardian
  • Children witnessing or being victims of violence in their neighborhood
  • Living with someone who is mentally ill, suicidal or severely depressed
  • Living with someone with a substance abuse disorder relating to alcohol or drugs

We need look no further than the daily headlines to know that across Maryland, from urban to rural communities, children experience these and other related stressors on a daily basis, and often go on to develop lifelong trauma that may never be addressed. The more adverse experiences in a child’s life, the greater the likelihood that the child will develop a nervous system disorder such as depression, a developmental delay, anxiety, poor academic performance, substance abuse, violence or suicide.

The exact mechanism by which social injustice affects a child’s health is currently unknown, but because Kennedy Krieger is treating patients right now for trauma caused by these situations, and because it employs leading experts in this field, it has the expertise, data and patient population necessary to learn more, and to develop new, more effective, evidence-based treatments.

All that’s needed to make these treatments happen is the research that goes into developing those treatments. The Center for the Neuroscience of Social Injustice will fill that role and perform that necessary research.


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Maryland Children Living in Poverty

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Center, 12% of Maryland’s children live in poverty. Growing up in poverty is a threat to healthy child development, and increases the likelihood of poor academic, cognitive and health outcomes. The dangers of economic hardship are greatest among children who are very young and who experience persistent and deep poverty.

Disparities among Maryland’s children according to race are striking, and are similar to such disparities in the southern and southeastern regions of the United States. In particular, Baltimore City and areas in Western Maryland on the Eastern Shore lead the way in childhood poverty rates in Maryland. Our center will develop ways to mitigate the effects of poverty on children.

Children living in poverty in Maryland. Source: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

Children living in poverty in Maryland. Source: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
Click here  to see the full map and data

Income inequality in Maryland. Source: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

Income inequality in Maryland. Source: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
Click here to see the full map and data

Disparities in Education Among Maryland Children

Education plays an important role in a child’s overall well-being and future prosperity and happiness. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Center, Maryland ranks 19th in the nation in children’s education.

 

Data indicate that Maryland children’s educational experiences and outcomes are getting worse, not better: In recent years, the number of young children not in school and the number of fourth- and eighth-graders not proficient in math have increased. Our center will study how and why this is happening, and will develop specific solutions to improve the educational experience for Maryland’s children.


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Click here to get the full infographic
Disparities in Education Among Maryland Children

Our Expertise

Over the years, as Kennedy Krieger Institute has evaluated, treated and supported thousands of children with emotional, behavioral and neurological conditions, we’ve identified a pattern: Children growing up in poverty, hunger, overcrowded schools or under-resourced communities, or exposed to violence or racism, are at a dramatically increased risk for developing serious health problems. They experience daily trauma. Their education suffers. Children of color experience lowered expectations and reduced opportunities, not to mention fear. These factors can lead to depression, anxiety, and other emotional and physical health concerns that can impact them for a lifetime.

In response, Kennedy Krieger has developed plans for a new center to study the neuroscience of social injustice—the ways that social injustice affects a child’s developing brain and nervous system, and ultimately, their overall health. The center will also develop solutions to address the effects that social injustice has on children.

 

901 North  Broadway building at Kennedy Krieger

How the Center Will Work

The Center for the Neuroscience of Social Injustice will:

  • Address the immediate needs of the Maryland community by developing a better understanding of the impact of social influences and injustices on child development.

  • Allow Maryland to be a national leader in understanding and addressing the effects of social injustice on children.

  • Work closely with Kennedy Krieger’s Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress (CCFTS), which offers clinical treatment for children experiencing trauma, depression, anxiety, behavioral and other conditions that can result from social injustice.

  • Learn the exact mechanisms by which social injustice affects child health and outcomes. Study CCFTS data and data collected from the community to determine the best approaches—and develop new approaches—for treating the effects of social injustice on children.

  • Offer training opportunities for scholars from underrepresented groups and members of the community.

  • Help children as soon as it opens, coordinating new treatments and therapies through clinical and community providers.

We ask for your support, so that together, we can improve the lives of Maryland’s children. Our children cannot wait. Children’s lives and future livelihoods—and the success of our state—depend on it.

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Maryland’s Children Need Your Help and Support Now.

This is the year for Maryland to lead the way for the health of our children and families.

We welcome your questions and hope you will support the establishment and operation of this important center to help Maryland’s children.

Please contact Jacqueline Stone, PhD, MPA, PT, chief clinical officer, at Stone@KennedyKrieger.org