Cynthia Osborne and CFRP Initiate State-level Conversation on Toxic Stress and Early Childhood

CHASP faculty Cynthia Osborne and her research group, the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP), co-hosted “Toxic Stress and Early Childhood: What Policy Makers and Funders Need to Know” on November 14, 2014. The event marked the first state level conversation about the physiological and costly implications of adverse childhood experiences  (ACE), also known as toxic stress, and the current and potential policies developed to support Texas children and families.  The event was co-hosted with TexProtects and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and attendees included policy leaders, physicians, researchers, and advocates.

Dr. Andrew Garner, one of the nation’s leading pediatric neuroscientists studying the effects of toxic stress on early brain development, was the keynote speaker and presented “Peering into the Black Box: Understanding the Link Between Significant Adversity or Violence in Childhood and Poor Adult Outcomes”.  Representative John Zerwas (Texas House of Representatives, District 28), Chair of the Health and Human Services’ House Appropriations subcommittee, provided opening remarks.

“Multiple stressors in early childhood get under the skin and have long lasting effects that harm the child, family, community, and ultimately the state,” said Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and CFRP Director. “The implications of not addressing early childhood toxic stress are significant. It’s much more than just science – what and when targeted social policies are implemented are key.”

At the event, Dr. Osborne presented early findings from CFRP’s evaluation of the Texas Home Visiting Program that serves families with evidence-based early childhood intervention programs. Sarah Abrams with the Health and Human Services Commission and Sasha Rasco of the Department of Family and Protective Services discussed their prevention initiatives. Madeline McClure and Sophie Phillips of TexProtects also discussed the history and progress of home visiting in Texas.

For links and more about “Toxic Stress and Early Childhood: What Policy Makers and Funders Need to Know,” please go to


Cynthia Toxic Stress event


CHASP thanks Wendy Gonzales for her assistance in preparing this story.

Todd Olmstead Transforming Emergency Health Care through Research

Todd Olmstead, a CHASP faculty member and the James M. and Claudia U. Richter Fellow in Global Health Policy, is directing a Policy Research Project (PRP) aimed at rethinking the delivery of pre-hospital emergency care. Olmstead’s PRP, titled “Improving ATCEMS Integration with Local Healthcare Networks,” will help Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) consider its future options in the face of a changing health care scene. “Emergency departments are exactly where you want to go if you’re in a car wreck or have a stroke or heart attack, but they’re not great places if you have a bad cold or a mental illness,” says Olmstead.

With multidisciplinary degrees in Public Policy, Operations Research, and Industrial Engineering, Dr. Olmstead has a unique perspective on the issue. His interests in behavioral health and transportation logistics make him ideal for a PRP focused on reimagining emergency services in the context of an evolving healthcare industry.

“A lot of patients call EMS, believe it or not, because they need a ride, but EMS can’t take them to their primary care physician, so they bring them to the Emergency Department,” says Olmstead.

As a researcher, Professor Olmstead’s goal is to provide policy makers with critical information to help them evaluate alternatives for addressing the myriad issues related to improving health outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of health care.  In his work with the Seton Healthcare Family, Olmstead advises clinicians about research infrastructure and helps evaluate the impact of pilot programs. Olmstead also has a unique partnership with the Dell Medical School.

Olmstead’s PRP ultimately intends to help ATCEMS consider its future options in the face of a changing healthcare scene. The end product for the fall semester will be a concrete list of alternatives to be considered by ATCEMS Chief Ernie Rodriguez and Medical Director Paul Hinchey, M.D. In the spring, students will flesh out selected alternatives, outlining costs, benefits, and stakeholder analysis.

CHASP thanks Meenakshi Awasthi, MGPS 2016, for her contributions to this story.


CHASP Faculty in Key Leadership Roles in the APPAM

See Angela Evans’ Presidential Address at the 2014 APPAM Fall Research Conference

PrAngela Evansofessor Angela Evans delivered the annual Presidential Address of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) at the Fall Conference on November 7th in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  You can view her address to the association at this link:

Professor Evans was elected to this prestigious role in the leading professional association of schools of public policy and public affairs in November of 2013 and has served in significant leadership roles in APPAM for many years. Her previous service includes the APPAM Policy Council, Chair of the Policy Relevance Committee, the Nominating Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, Program Committee, and Executive Director Search Committee. Prior to joining the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Professor Evans was the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS)—the Legislative Branch agency created by the U.S. Congress to serve as its primary source for policy research and analysis. During her nearly 40-year public service career, she worked with Members of Congress and their staffs in confronting some of the most critical and complex policy problems facing the nation.

Cynthia Osborne, Director of the Child and Family Research Partnership and CHASP faculty affiliate, was elected to a four-year term on the Policy Council of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM)

The APPAM Policy Council is composed of 31 members from universities, think tanks and government agencies.

Cynthia Osborne

CHASP Team Studying the Affordable Care Act in Texas

Warner Richardson ACA-PRP Class

As part of the LBJ School of Public Affairs’s series of year-long Policy Research Projects (PRPs), Professors Sam Richardson and David Warner led a team of students in a study of the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Texas. The PRP delivered the Texas analysis for a nationwide, state-by-state study of federalism and the implementation of the ACA, under the aegis of the Nelson Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY Albany and the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Warner recently presented the study findings at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and Professor Richardson is continuing the study of the implementation of the ACA with a new class of students this fall.

The study focuses on the following three issues:

  1. Who governs (agencies, offices, program leaders);
  2. The interagency and federal-state relationships that develop; and
  3. State-level operations of the principal coverage-expanding policies adopted in the new law.

During fall semester of 2013, the PRP produced a report detailing the decisions Texas made leading up to the October 2013 opening of the ACA health insurance exchanges, how early implementation tasks were carried out in the state, and what the consequences of Texas’ policy decisions have been. In the spring semester, the PRP produced additional analyses looking at implementation issues in early 2014 and how various populations and markets are affected by the roll-out of the ACA in Texas.


September 1, 2014