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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Washington Faculty Member Receives $729,500 Grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Dr. Jennifer Otten, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, received a three-year, $729,500 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study how changes in minimum wage affect the health of early childcare providers and the environments in which they care for kids.

[Photo: Dr. Jennifer Otten]

“Workers in the field of early childhood education play a critical role in the development of the health and well-being of children and, ultimately, the health of our communities,” said Dr. Otten, a core faculty member in the School’s Nutritional Sciences Program. “Yet, they are a vulnerable workforce, often with low pay, low status and high uptake of public benefits. These factors put them at high risk of poor health and stress related illnesses.”

The School is hoping to learn more about the health of this important workforce and how public health researchers and practitioners might better support it, Dr. Otten noted.

In the study, Dr. Otten will compare minimum wage changes over time in Seattle and South King County to wages in Austin, TX, the control city. Results will provide insights about how labor regulations might relate to health and health-promoting behaviors, particularly in minimum wage.

The study will also provide a better understanding of how investing in early childhood education and its workforce might influence the health of the next generation.

To learn more about the grant, visit