Mil Dias de Amor: MiDiA's Innovative Support for Latino Fathers Optimizes the First One Thousand Days of Baby's Life
MiDiA is a Spanish-language smart application that supports Latino fathers in scaffolding optimal early interactions with their babies.
Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)
Since submitting our idea in December of last year, we have been able to receive and implement feedback from our iDeo mentor--Jane West (thank you Jane!). Consequently, we have engaged more formally with Latino fathers living in area mobile home parks, we have concretized our pilot phase team structure, and we have completed our internal university budget review and submission process.
In regard to our mentor feedback, we we were able to learn that this submission may not provide sufficient information re: health disparities in Colorado mobile home parks (MHP's), and how this contributes to poor infancy and early childhood development outcomes. In fact, housing insecurity is one of our state's most salient health disparities (2016 Community Health Survey, Health District of Northern Larimer County). With near nil choices for affordable housing, mobile home parks have come to replace subsidized housing throughout Colorado. Latino fathers living in MHP's report housing insecurity as a primary family stressor, and while no formal research has been conducted on early childhood toxic stress in mobile home parks (enter our team!), our qualitative data suggests there is a direct impact on families with infants and toddlers. We want to know more about this, and feel that the way to approach it is by engaging fathers living in mobile home parks, and involving them in a multisectorial design process that address the first one thousand days of their children's lives.
To that end, and since our December submission, we have spoken with and interviewed more Latino dads living in MHP's. Our conversations have led us to feel heartbroken, humbled and excited by what Latino fathers bring to this process. For starters, fathers speak vulnerably about the negative impact of toxic stress and isolation on their relationships with their children. They feel cut-off from their children's development. They recognize the strain this puts on their families, and feel confused and further isolated when attempting to come up with a solution to this problem. Latino fathers agree that smart phone technology is a viable way for Latino fathers to be more involved in their baby's lives, and they want to be involved in designing solutions that address their concerns. We have submitted this proposal because we would like to help them do just that!
In addition to our conversations with Latino dads living in our community, we have also been considering how best to forge the multisectorial partnership between those of us on the team who are infancy and early childhood development (IECD) experts, and those of us who are on the technology side of the proposal. In fact, this innovation is at the heart of our One Health agenda: how best to catalyze systems change across sectors in a way that directly benefits communities. Our mentor suggested this is what most excited her about our project. She said that typically, app developers have ideas, then seek expert knowledge to make them work. MiDiA is very different. We are, first and foremost, community members seeking to solve a problem. From that stance we can branch off into our roles as Latino fathers, mobile home park residents, IECD experts, and engineering & technology experts--all working together, and sharing power to solve a critical community challenge.
Name or Organization
Situated in Colorado State University, the One Health Institute (OHI https://onehealth.colostate.edu), is leading this submission with a team of One Health Faculty Fellows, and in collaboration with a group of Spanish-speaking Latino fathers living in Larimer County mobile home parks, and invested in improving very early and early father-infant/toddler interactions both for themselves, and within their communities.
The Mil Dias de Amor (MiDiA) team and innovation are located in Fort Collins, Colorado.
What is your stage of development?
Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD
What is the stage of your proposal?
Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.
Like most fathers, Latino fathers want to support their infants' and toddlers' optimal development. Mil Dias de Amor (MiDiA) offers them culturally and linguistically competent awareness-based tools that empower them to do just that!
Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)
Supporting fathers in addressing the isolation they often feel from their baby's development is not only a game-changer for our selected area, but for all opportunity areas. Fathers want to "create healthy and constructive early learning experiences for children as they develop," and they want to participate in how to optimize these within their families & communities. By engaging fathers in creating technology-based and relationship-delivered innovative solutions to challenges faced specifically by fathers (e.g. Latino fathers first), MiDiA is addressing all three Ideo EC Opportunity Areas.
Select an Innovation Target
Product: A new or enhanced physical product that creates value for end beneficiaries.
Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)
MiDiA aims to test, develop, launch, and implement research-based smart technology that will innovate how Spanish-speaking fathers utilize their own "benevolent" experiences, stories, and inherent resilience and resources to support the optimal development of their prenates, infants, and toddlers, living in mobile home parks in Larimer County, Colorado. Addressing the needs of fathers in early childhood and infant development is an ongoing "call to action" often overlooked both in research and clinical/programatic translation. MiDiA engages and works with Latino fathers living in mobile home parks in order to innovate technologies that are developed in direct collaboration with, and in service of Latino fathers. Fathers we work with report that challenges Latino fathers face are often related to work-schedules, cultural roles and norms, gender norms and roles, a general feeling of isolation and difference in the community, and the threat (or incidence) of family separation. Our team has learned that together, these challenges equate a complex systemic dynamic that often leaves fathers feeling further isolation and shame, and which directly impacts their accessibility to the fullness of their baby's early development. MiDiA is a Padres-Led (fathers-led) intervention that addresses this complexity.
What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)
MiDiA is designed to address a community need identified by Latino and immigrant fathers, namely to solve the problem of availability of, and accessibility to, practical Spanish-speaking resources and interventions that support Latino fathers in optimizing and/or transforming early relationships with their prenates, infants, and young children.
Explain your idea (5000 characters)
MiDiA, short for Mil Dias de Amor/1000 Days of love, is a Spanish-language smart application that allows Latinx and immigrant fathers to optimally build the quality of their relationships with their prenates, infants, and toddlers over the course of the child’s first 1000 days of life. This innovative technology is based on fathers scaffolding their father-infant relationships in the following ways:
1. Spontaneously Introducing ¿Sabias que?/Did you know? Prompts.
These prompts encourage fathers to learn more about how their positive interactions with their prenate/infant/toddler are impacting their development throughout the lifespan. The friendly, informational tidbits are delivered daily to MiDiA dads, and form the foundation of parent-education on the MiDiA platform. An example of a prompt: “did you know that fathers who support pregnant moms during medical checkups tend to have babies that weight more?” (Prakesh, 2010).
2. Building developmentally optimal communication in the father-infant dyad. Caregiver-infant communication progresses significantly as the prenate/infant/toddler experiences critical periods of early development. With the support of “Did you know?” prompts, fathers can choose to carefully build this communication based on positive father-child interactions. This includes, but is not limited to, dads having the ability to build early communication by understanding how and what types of communication impact their prenate/infant/toddler at different stages of development. One example of this is a father who learns of the benefits of talking to his baby inutero, and via MiDiA support, devises and documents this optimal type of communication to show to his baby in the future.
3. Supporting Fathers in Building Spanish-language, Culturally-Meaningful, Developmentally-Appropriate Play with their Babies.
For many MiDiA fathers, and other fathers living in low-socioeconomic conditions, play with their infants and toddlers may not come naturally, yet play is a critical foundation of optimal early childhood development. The MiDiA app is designed to support fathers in both learning and constructing optimal playful-moments and play with their babies.
4. Building on Self-Reflective Relational Strength, Resilience, and Joy.
The most impactful and transformative interventions are those devised and applied (experientially) by the person(s) and communities identifying and desiring change. With an emphasis on benevolent childhood experiences, moments of relational connectedness, resilience, and the generation of positive emotions, MiDiA provides Latino fathers with Spanish-language, culturally-competent tools with which to identify, contemplate, and share and catalogue these bighearted moments.
5. Supported Storytelling and Live Album Creation of “Mil dias con mi Bebe”/One Thousand Days with my Baby.
As fathers record and catalogue their unique precious moments (even if from afar), memories, and interactive reflections with their babies, MiDiA provides support for composing their shared story of their first 1000 days. This narrative-formation and storytelling aspect of MiDiA supports internal self-organization and the critical developmental function of consistency in the attachment messages shared between father and infant.
6. Building a narrative for the future.
This component of MiDiA brings numbers 1-5 (above) together in a way that allows fathers to mentalize and organize their future relationship with their young child. For many Latino fathers, mentalization, or the ability to socially construct and guide attention on the physical and psychological needs of others, requires the development of new implicit circuitry, namely the type that makes possible our ability to look back on a given relationship and find purpose and meaning in it. MiDiA supports fathers’ mentalization process by scaffolding their experiences toward a future-orientation in the relationship, and by answering reflective questions such as, “in the future, I want my son to remember me in this way ___________________. I know he will because today I am able to __________________.”
The MiDiA application is first and foremost being built on scientific knowledge. Fathers' interactions with their prenates, infants, and young children are largely based on implicit-memory systems recalling specific and personal dyadic information from their respective pasts. In the current father-child relationship, this brain circuitry-based scaffolding of caregiver-child interactions literally shapes the infant's brain, molding it in direct response to the quality of the dyadic interactions both modulated and/or moderated by her/his caregiver(s). With this neuropsychological understanding in place, MiDiA is an application that supports Latino fathers in building critical building blocks for the optimal first 1000 days in relationship with their prenates, infants, and toddlers.
Who benefits? (1500 characters)
In its culturally-competent format, MiDiA will benefit all Spanish-speaking pregnant families, and families with infants and toddlers (e.g. there are more than 50 million Spanish speaking Latinxs currently living in the United States); however it should also be noted that in creating a community-led intervention that supports the needs of the most vulnerable members of our community, we are, in fact supporting all families in the early childhood stage of development. Known as the "Curb-Cut Effect" (https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_curb_cut_effect), this suggests that when communities target support "where it is needed most—when we create the circumstances that allow those who have been left behind to participate and contribute fully—everyone wins" (Blackwell, 2017).
MiDiA team leaders interact with beneficiaries on a regular basis. We do this both in direct partnership with community organizations--namely The Family Center/La Familia https://thefamilycenterfc.org, La Cocina https://thefamilycenterfc.org/la-cocina/, Poudre River Public Library District https://www.poudrelibraries.org, and Vida Sana https://salud)--as well as in community-identified leadership roles within the Latinx community. As a whole, our team has a long history of engaging, and working to support communities throughout the world. We stand on the organizational principle that communities alone can create the health and futures they desire, and seek to serve the needs of our community through this lens.
What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)
We do not yet know the potential impact of our idea, however carefully studying this is one of our team's priorities. Given current research connecting early childhood neurobiology with the need for interventions that support optimal (safe, consistent, joyful) relationships between babies and their caregivers, we anticipate that MiDiA will have long-lasting, meaningful/positive outcomes that will catalyze positive changes in the lives of children and families.
Considering the rapid growth of Spanish-speaking and Latinx populations in the United States, and given that "in fairly homogenous privileged cities in the United States, impoverished communities of color often experience a heightened invisibility and more difficult access to relevant resources" (Martinez and Yuma, 2017/attached), MiDiA is expected to lead to wider systemic changes, both at the local and national level. However, theories of MiDiA's impact need to be thoroughly questioned and rigorously tested in order to minimize the negative impact of unintended consequences on an already vulnerable community.
How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)
MiDiA has been created for Latinx and immigrant low income children in response to their parents' (both moms and dads) expressed needs for interventions that address the roles and interactions of fathers in families with infants, toddlers, and young children. By focusing on a marginalized population, MiDiA is scaffolding supports that first and foremost serve low-income children, and by doing so is shifting agency to "cutting the curve" and benefitting all. As a team we believe that it is important to carefully consider the unintended consequences of an application like MiDiA, and are therefore taking steps to listen, empathize, and learn from Latino and immigrant fathers as THEY develop MiDiA for the benefit of solving one of our community's complex problems.
Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)
MiDiA is innovative and distinct in key ways. These include:
1. We are multisectorial. We are a team of humans who feel heartbroken by fathers' physical and emotional isolation from their infants and toddlers. Our team includes Latino fathers, mobile home park residents, Latinx community leaders, One Health experts, engineering and technology experts, IECMH clinicians, and IECD experts.
2. We are a resident-led initiative. Latino fathers living in mobile home parks are at the epicenter of our project.
3. We are place-based. Interventions focused on the specific needs of "places" or neighborhoods are among the most effective (Northridge, M., 2014) in counteracting the negative impact of health disparities. Understanding how upstream factors to health affect the lives of children and families is a critical component of finding innovative solutions to IECD challenges.
4. We seek to highlight father's critical role in IECD. There is no need to say much more about this... Fathers are underrepresented in IEDC research and practice. We seek to change that.
5. We are a Spanish-language resource. The growing need for Spanish-language resources and services is well documented in the research literature (Valdes, G., 2006, Paris, D., 2012). Our platform has extended value not only to Spanish-speaking fathers, but to Latinx families, including mothers, grandparents, and other family members.
Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)
As MiDiA is a smartphone based application, the idea could reach a very significant number of end-users. The application is currently being designed in Spanish, which limits distribution to Spanish-speaking families, however this cannot be considered a limitation in terms of reach and market segment. According to U.S. Census data, Latinxs comprise 17.6% of the United States population. This makes Latinxs the largest ethnic and racial minority in the country. It is estimated that of the 56.6 million Latinxs living in this country, 37 million speak Spanish at home, and 29% are U.S. born children of immigrant parents. Another 11 million comprise the “third generation (born to two native- born parents) and represent 31 percent of all Latinos" (Pew Hispanic Center, 2002). The U.S. Census Bureau currently projects that by 2025 the Latino population will grow to 61 million. Based on these numbers, it is estimated that MiDiA will reach a very significant number of end-users.
Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)
At this time we feel confident that with the support of Latino fathers, Ideo's support (including mentoring), with a sustainable, socially-responsive business model, and funding diversification that allows for the benefits of multi-sectorial partnerships, MiDiA is feasible.
To date we have formed a multi-sectorial, community-based team with more than 100 years of experience is multiple early childhood sectors and expert knowledge. We have listened with empathy and have placed ourselves at the center of our community's concerns. We have dialogued, and will continue to dialogue, with Latino fathers living in our community's mobile home parks. We have investigated our area's diverse demographics, and have begun working on piloting our idea via a neighborhood-based approach. We have identified and partnered with local organizations leading the way in the EC field, and we have become an integral part of how early childhood community leaders think about the first 1000 days of a child's life. We have come up with MiDiA as an innovative first step toward supporting Latino father-infant dyads in optimizing the first 1000 days of their relationship.
Our plans are to continue to grow and evolve this idea in partnership with Latino fathers living in mobile home parks. We are intentional about the place-based approach of the technology's implementation, as it supports the building blocks of the One Health Institute's mission and vision.
Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)
We feel confident that a pilot-model of implementation is both viable and logical at this stage of our project's development. Approaching the business development aspect of this program as a pilot (e.g. a size-controlled, place-based, prototype-filled, and action-driven design), allows us to contain it in its initial stages, and incrementally build something that has a clear purpose and vision. We are committed to a design process that includes experimentation, learning, and action; at this time, and for our team, these are best put into practice via a pilot model of business development.
HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)
As previously stated, Latino fathers are MiDiA's epicenter. The project was born out of the heartbreak felt by Latino fathers as they attempt to find practical solutions for remaining connected to their infant children. The d-school model for design process suggests a "focus on human values," and "designing for feedback" as a way to remain human-centered in the design process. It also suggests "radical collaboration" as a way to activate the benefits of diversity. MiDiA seeks to embody each of these criteria, and further is led by the "humans" most affected in/by the design process. To capture the project's human centered perspective we have: 1. Conducted community dialogues, 2. Conducted person-to-person interviews with Latino fathers and mothers, 3. Conducted focus groups with Latino fathers, and Latinx families, 4. We have placed our end-users at the center of our program's development, and 5. We have chosen to share power by activating resident-led leadership and direction.
The above have not only informed what we present here now, they ARE what we present here now.
Latino fathers are MidiA's epicenter.
Tell us more about you (3000 characters)
Mil Dias de Amor was born out of our community's expressed need for interventions that support Latino fathers' interactions with their children and families. The idea to support this need with a smartphone application evolved out of analyzing focus group data that indicates that Latinx fathers living in our community use their smartphones to access a wide range of resources. As well, the idea became more tangible as fathers also expressed a need to connect with their partners, infants, and toddlers, even while away from home. Community members report working very long days, and often departing and arriving at home after everyone is asleep. Deportation and/of family separation are often at the heart of being away from children, and Latino fathers would like ways to build and maintain an optimal relationship with their prenates, infants, and toddlers, even if living apart. MiDiA emerged as one possible solution to Latino fathers' concerns around being present in their babies' lives in a meaningful way.
As a team we understand that the early childhood space is perhaps where we might have the greatest impact. With more than 100 years of combined experience in multiple-sectors of early childhood development and health, and with the possibility of partnering that expertise with team members who have extensive experience in translating clinical data to practical applications and resources, we are optimally positioned to meet a critical need in the Latinx community both locally and throughout the United States. What excites us about working in early childhood? All babies deserve the very best chance at a wonderful, meaningful life! Along with our community partners, we believe we can be a meaningful part of building that "chance."
Please see our attached document titled The MiDiA Team for more information about each and everyone of our remarkable team members. We are a multi-sectorial group of community members and One Health Institute Faculty Fellows working together to find solutions to some of our most complex health-related challenges. Our platform, Mil Dias de Amor (MiDiA), is a critical initiative to activate people and places toward optimizing every child's first 1000 days with safety, love and joy.
We are the One Health Institute MiDiA Team.
Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)
The simple answer to this question is that we could go forward and do what we have described above with what we have, but what about what we have not yet thought of? And the amazing people we have not yet met? Beyond funding, we recognize that we could benefit from partnerships in the business sector, particularly as this relates to funding diversification and the possibility of building a unique social-impact business model that can best support our community's efforts. We are a multi-sectorial team, and we are looking for partners in sectors not yet at the table.
As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)
We are looking for help in the following ways:
1. We would welcome the opportunity to continue working with our mentor.
2. We would like to learn the Ideo innovation model in depth. We believe our team could greatly benefit from process-driven innovation.
3. We would like to receive mentorship around diversifying our funding opportunities, and thinking of multi-sectorial business partnerships.
4. We would like support in creating a sustainable socially-responsive business model.
Would you like mentoring support?
If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)
At this stage in our development, we could benefit from a mentor that will assist us in locating funding opportunities, and in developing an innovative and sustainable business model for MiDiA. We can also benefit from support in how to translate our complex ideas to visual stories. We wanted very much to include such an element in our proposal, and budget, time, and scheduling constraints did not allow it for this particular draft. We recognize that we will benefit from support in this area.
Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?
Yes, share my contact information
Mentorship: How was your idea supported? (5000 characters)
We had a very positive experience with our mentor. In particular, we were able to enhance our project in three primary areas:
1. To reflect on, and build on our understanding of "who leads the project" (e.g. human centered design process). As a team, we have been committed to putting Latino fathers at the center of this project. Through our mentor's feedback we were able to further understand the critical importance of this aspect of MiDiA's development, and to make decisions about how we would highlight this throughout our design process.
2. To develop a clear structural model that overlays on the socio-ecological model of community health. Our mentor was very supportive of us fully owning our expert knowledge of how IECD is impacted within a socio-ecological health model. She encouraged us to make this explicit, and so we have!
3. Our mentor also provided great ideas for the production of a video. Unfortunately, time, budget and scheduling constraints made it impossible for us to produce a video in time for this submission; however, it has made us more aware of the need for visual aids to our presentation.
Name or Organization
One Health Institute at Colorado State University
What is the stage of your proposal?
Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.